Tuesday, April 8, 2008

A Faux-Spring Chicken Salad Sandwich

Once again I find myself in the midst of the lunch hour under less than desireable conditions--namely, 1) I am hungry, 2)it is freezing cold and wet outside, and 3) I am still in my robe. (Sorry Mom, remember when I told you I had a job? I was kidding! Eeek!)

Indoor urban pioneer that I am, I must root and forage through my ancient little dumbwaiter-turned pantry and my wine&beer cooler-aka-refrigerator for food. Otherwise, I risk starvation or even worse, the unhappy donning of pants and unwilling propulsion into the arctic midday.

I've got roughly a half pound of thawed chicken breast that I intended to make into a crepe filling last night along with a leek cream sauce and crimini mushrooms and some Comte or Gruyere cheese, but then my friend Brian made me to go Ken's Artisan Bakery for Monday Night Pizza Night and eat Caesar salad with the world's greatest garlicky croutons and spicy sopressata pizza, the one cured meat I might sell my firstborn for, in a crunch. Just kidding! I don't have a firstborn. But if I did, I just might sell them for sopressata!

I also have an absolutely scrumptious baguette that our server gave me last night after dinner--if you go to Ken's Monday nights for pizza, they let you pick any loaf of bread behind the counter afterwards to take home. So, I have Chicken + Baguette. As Tennyson might have said, were he sequestered in a walk-in freezer of a double studio apartment on the coldest of faux-spring days like me, "In the spring a young woman’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of chicken salad sandwiches."

I will make a chicken salad sandwich. Peering into my refrigerator, where it appears the leftover Boddington ales from my Bangers & Mash Ball have now taken everything else hostage and formed a protective barrier across the top shelf (how does this happen?), I pull out sage, flat-leaf parsley, a Meyer lemon, a handful of arugula from the first downtown farmer's market of 2008, the dijon, and then a horrible realization hits: there is no mayonnaise in my refrigerator. Horrors! My dreams of a chicken salad sandwich have been dashed. That is, until I spy the small carton of Greek yoghurt cowering behind a burly plastic jug of old cranberry juice. Perfect. I pull that out too. From the pantry I choose a large clove of garlic, the red chili flakes, and of course, my trusty jar of sea salt. I love salt!

I put a pot of water on high heat, then wander off to investigate the suspicion that I bought a Scharffen Berger chocolate bar a few days ago and left it in a jacket pocket. Sixteen jackets flung about the apartment later, I am forced to concede defeat, and I return to the merrily boiling pot of water, extinguish the burner flame, and submerge my chicken for 15 minutes with the lid on the pot. I used to be very intimidated by poaching chicken, even though ironically poaching is probably the easiest way to cook chicken. Put the flabby raw meat in boiled water, pull it out roughly a quarter hour later. Easy! Poaching eggs...now, that is hard. I cannot poach an egg. If I were captured by enemy Boddington cans and forced to poach eggs to save my life, I would be doomed. This is why I keep a heavy bureau across the fridge door at night.

I devise a recipe while the chicken poaches:

1/2 pound chicken, poached and cubed/shredded, however you prefer to dismantle your poached chicken
2 tbls Greek yogurt
1/4 tsp Dijon mustard
1/4 cup Arugula, either wilted in a pan with some olive oil and added to the filling or just as part of the sandwich
1 tsp chopped flat leaf parsley
1/2 tsp finely chopped fresh sage
1/4 tsp red chili pepper flakes
zest of 1/2 Meyer lemon
SALT. I love it!

Once my chicken is thoroughly poached, I remove it from the water (I forget how ugly poached chicken is!) and immediately go about chopping it up, then put it in a bowl with all the other ingredients and stir them up, which improves the chicken's aesthetics exponentially.

I taste the mixture. Mmm! The creamy mild flavor of the yogurt rivals mayonnaise and is better for preserving my existing thigh boundaries I suppose, the arugula and red pepper flakes add a spicy kick, while the lemon and herbs contribute fresh zesty notes. I think the chicken salad needs more salt, though. Some people, and by some people I mean the American Heart Association, might disagree, but I add more anyway.

I take a picture of my sandwich, then eat it happily while reading this month's issue of Bon Appetit, which features an amazing sounding recipe for Pink Peppercorn Pavlovas. Hmm. I wonder if I have any pink peppercorns in my little pantry...if not, I might have to put on pants after all.



  1. Sis,

    I may make a few minor edits to our blog! Just kidding. You are doing a great job on the blog while I am enjoying sunny mexico... I miss you!


  2. Well, sis, I am glad you are enjoying yourself in Mexico while I sit here toiling over the blog, trying to fend off frostbite by warming my icy fingers over a steaming cup of brandy.
    I'm glad I slipped under the limbo stick of your censorship this week...stay tuned for my posting about my tour through the hot spots of Old Town last night! Oh my gosh, I had no idea Portland had so many fine gastro-stripclubs!