They say good things come ‘round in their own time, and it’s definitely time to share this cheeky little Curry Chicken Salad recipe.
The recipe came about several years ago during an annual excursion to the North Shore with a bunch of friends. Not just anywhere on the North Shore, but about as far north as you can go without your passport. Figuratively, anyway. There are some spots even farther north, but none that bring you to this place… our favorite place to spend a long winter weekend with friends.
And not just any friends, but the remarkable kind that you’ve known since high school. The kind that have been there for you through thick and thin… The kind who would do anything for you, and you’d do the same for them.
They’re the best kind of friends to have, and they’re the nicest bunch of friends one could hope to meet by virtue of marriage.
My husband went to high school with them. Actually, many of us went to the same high school – just a few years apart. While we were all in very different places back then, the universe has brought us to similar places now. And one of the places we’ve all had the good fortune of enjoying together is this beautifully rustic family-run resort way up on the border between Minnesota and Canada.
We all look forward to the trip… even making it a point to get together beforehand to plan the food that we’re bringing. We all enjoy cooking, and there is always plenty to go around. Each family takes turns providing breakfasts and dinners. For lunch, we do our own thing in between activities like hiking, cross country skiing, taking in the stunning views, and occasionally indulging in the luxury of an afternoon nap.
Life and schedules have gotten in the way of our annual winter trips over the last few years, but I know we’ll figure out a way to get up there again sometime soon. When we do, there will surely be more recipes enjoyed and shared from the trip.
Until then, and thanks to a recent gathering with the aforementioned group of friends, we have this recipe for Sweet and Spicy Curry Chicken Salad. I wrote the recipe down this time, and re-tested it three more times within a two week period because my husband is just a tad bit obsessed with my curry chicken salad. Can’t blame him a bit… As easy as the recipe is, it’s got so many wonderful textures and flavors, you just can’t get enough!
This addictive salad combines all kinds of cool, creamy and crunchy, along with sweet, savory, and a little spicy – or a little more spicy, if you’re so inclined.
This curry chicken salad is great to whip up as an appetizer to share with friends. Try it with a dry, lightly chilled Rosé! It’s also really nice to have on hand for snacks and lunchtime cravings. It comes together quickly, and while the flavors definitely “marry” nicely with a little time, it tastes great right out of the gate if you don’t have time to spare. If you’re making this curry chicken salad for a party, make sure to check the Cook’s Notes below for some make-ahead tips!
For my fellow spice fanatics who appreciate layers of flavors, mix it up! You can use just one type of curry if you prefer, but if you have them handy, use a combination of ‘regular’ curry along with ‘sweet’ and/or ‘hot’ varieties for richer layers of flavors. If you appreciate a little heat with your sweet, add a bigger pinch of crushed red pepper flakes. Flavor preferences are very subjective, but I assure you, there’s nothing overbearing about the spice levels in this recipe so go ahead and play with them a bit.
This is a hearty, satisfying salad that can be enjoyed with pita chips or crackers. It’s also delicious tucked into soft pita with a few fresh spinach leaves. If you’d rather, just spoon some curry chicken salad onto small, fresh Romaine lettuce leaves. the best thing about this recipe (other than the fact that it’s so darn good) is that it’s so flexible. You can serve it lots of different ways and it’s all good. Very, very good.
- 2¼ – 2½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast - cooked & shredded (about 5 cups lightly packed)
- ½ cup water, plus more if needed
- ¾ cup mayonnaise
- ¾ cup sour cream
- 1½ Tablespoons curry powder OR ½ Tablespoon each: regular, sweet and hot curry
- ½ Tablespoon turmeric powder
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, plus more to taste
- 1 cup red onion, finely chopped (about ½ medium onion)
- 1 cup dried cranberries
- ¼ cup fresh Italian parsley, finely chopped + more for garnish
- Salt and pepper to taste
- In a covered sauce pan, add the chicken breasts and water, and season with salt and pepper. Partially cover the pan (leave a small gap for steam to escape) and simmer chicken over medium heat for about ten minutes. Check and turn the chicken every ten minutes or so until tender and completely cooked through. Then, remove from heat and allow to cool a bit.
- For the sauce: In a large mixing bowl (approx. 10 cup capacity), add the mayonnaise, sour cream, curry powder(s), turmeric, and crushed red pepper flakes, and stir with a spatula to completely combine ingredients. Add the chopped onion, dried cranberries, and fresh parsley (reserving a little of each for garnish if you’d like), and stir to combine. Add more red pepper flakes, salt and pepper to taste, and set aside.
- Shred the cooked chicken and add to the sauce. Stir well, and serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate up to 24 hours until ready to serve.
- To serve, garnish with additional chopped onions, dried cranberries, fresh parsley, and a sprinkle of curry powder (all optional), and enjoy.
*The curry powder and turmeric add a bright, rich gold color to this dish that intensifies with time. As such, it’s even prettier when garnished with colorful dried cranberries, red onions, and fresh parsley. An extra sprinkle of curry powder on top is also a nice touch.
*This recipe is a Bacon Fatte original.
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