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Playing How to Make Chicken Salad | Jacques Pepin

Jacques Pepin shares his simple poached chicken salad tossed in a mustard-mayonnaise dressing spiked with hot sauce and chives. Enjoy it on a bed of lettuce, in a sandwich or "dressed up." 

"The chicken for this delightful salad is exceptionally moist and tender because of the way it is poached," says Jacques. "The salad can be presented simply or in a fanciful way to imitate a flying chicken. Regardless of the presentation, it should be served at room temperature. The chicken will lose half its flavor if served too cold."    

Pro Tip from Jacques: The chicken poaching liquid can easily be turned into a lovely "free" soup, as well. Bring it to a boil after you've removed the chicken, add one cup (about two ounces) of vermicelli (small egg noodles) and gently boil the noodles until just tender, four to five minutes. Check the seasonings and serve topped with grated Swiss or Italian cheese, if you like.  

For two classic French dishes from Jacques, check out his Onion Soup Gratinee (French Onion Soup) and Chicken Ballotine Stuffed with Sausage


For the Chicken:
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 ½ cups ½-inch sliced leeks
  • ¾ cup ½-inch diced carrots
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 sprig (4 leaves) fresh sage (optional)
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 ¼ pounds total)
For the Dressing:
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons mustard
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon sriracha
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons chopped chives
For the Garnishes (optional):
  • 1 hard-cooked egg, sliced
  • 1 olive, sliced
  • 1 tomato
  • About 2 cups arugula
  • 1 small bunch chives


Serves: 4


For the chicken, combine all the ingredients except the chicken in a large pot, bring to a boil and boil gently, covered, for about 5 minutes. Add the chicken, bring back to a boil, and boil gently, covered, for 1 ½ minutes. Set aside off the heat for 20 to 30 minutes to continue cooking the chicken in the broth. 

Meanwhile, for the dressing, combine all the ingredients in a small bowl. 

Remove the chicken from the broth and let cool. (Reserve the broth to make soup, if you like; see Tip.) When the meat has cooled, shred it into pieces and combine with the dressing in a bowl. 

To garnish, if you like, arrange a slice of hard-cooked egg on each plate to simulate the head of a chicken and add a slice of olive to make an eye. Pieces of tomato skin can form the comb, wattle, beak and feet. Place about ½ cup of arugula next to each chicken head and cover with some chicken salad. Arrange chives on top to imitate feathers. Serve at room temperature.