This was the first time I made chicken salad using bacon and dates. It’s the bomb—the best chicken salad I’ve ever had. Without doubt, it surpasses Whole Foods’ Waldorf chicken salad. Together, the bacon and dates accomplish a satisfying interplay of salty and sweet. Reducing the mayonnaise by using an equal part of Greek yogurt creates a creamy sauce, which beautifully carries the rest of the flavors in the salad. I used pecans, because my father-in-law generously brought me a bag full from their yard in Texas, but walnuts would work well too.
I tend to think of chicken salad as classic bridal shower or baby shower fare (Note: Peach-Almond Galette would be the perfect dessert to compliment this salad for a special occasion). Yet, it’s a great treat for an everyday lunch. This recipe makes enough for four generous lunches and would be a great lunch to take to work. Also, it may be served as a sandwich, between bread or croissants, but it is perfectly scrumptious as a salad on its own.
This salad does take a little planning ahead, as the chicken and bacon need to be cooked and cooled, before they are blended with the other ingredients. Also, the salad tastes best when chilled.
The method I used to precook the chicken is as follows: Split the chicken breasts and put them in a large pot. Cover with water. Add ½ teaspoon of salt per whole breast, to the water. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook approximately 15 minutes. Check to see if it is done by cutting through one of the pieces. When the chicken is cooked, allow it to cool while still submerged in the water. This allows the chicken to hold on to moisture, without steaming it out. I added cold water to the pot to hasten the cooling time. When cooled, remove and chop into bite-size pieces. Tip: Cook more than you need for the salad, to use in other recipes later in the week. I cooked extra to reserve for chicken pot pie.
For the bacon: With all of the slices in a stack, slice down the middle, lengthwise. Then make small slices down the length, about ½ inch apart. Cook on medium-high heat, stirring often, until crisp.
Chicken Salad with Bacon & Dates
Adapted from Classy Chicken Salad with Dates and Walnuts from Back to Butter: A Traditional Foods Cookbook by Molly Chester and Sandy Schrecengost
- Yield: 6 servings
- 30 minutes
- 3 cups precooked chicken, medium diced
- 6 ounces bacon, roughly chopped, cooked until crisp, and drained
- ½ cup diced Medjool dates
- ½ cup thinly sliced green onions, white and green parts
- ⅓ cup sliced celery
- 1 cup seedless red grapes, halved
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- ½ cup whole milk, plain Greek yogurt
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ cup pecans, roughly chopped
- dash of pepper
Place the chicken, bacon, dates, green onions and celery in a large bowl. Pour the mayonnaise and yogurt on top and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Mix to combine, ensuring that ingredients are coated well. Gently fold in the grapes. Refrigerate until chilled. Add pecans just prior to serving, to maintain crunch.