Thinking about the simpler foods of spring? Chicken salad is just one of those menu items that seems like spring to me and maybe it does to you too. Signs of spring also have me looking forward to shortly snipping fresh herbs growing in assorted planters on my deck, like fresh tarragon, and among its range of diverse uses, Tarragon Chicken Salad.
Yesterday morning on my way to sporting a ‘new dew’ at the salon of my eldest Sooky the Stylist, the bright sun along the drive filtered onto the creamy leather seats creating just enough warmth to click on the little black button positioned just above the rear view mirror sliding the sun roof to half open position. Winding in and out of the curvy narrow lined route surrounded by trees on either side, gave way to that freeing feeling, bursts of fresh air exhilarated while simultaneously issuing Siri, intermittent commands switching back and forth to the cranked up Sirius channels blasting tunes of the 40’s, 60’s and Soul Train. There are few things more fun than pumping it up with Billie Holiday, or on the other side, to Nancy Sinatra whose ‘boots are made for walkin,’ Continental anyone? Baby I wanna hit the town, Pennsylvania 6-5000.
Anyway, looking all glamorous, as everyone does after emerging from the doors of the Noel Sy salon, I made my way a few blocks up to my favorite bread shop, The Art of Bread, to choose from among the day’s selections, landing the largest sourdough loaf I’ve yet to encounter. Requesting the bread sliced, this visit’s treat also included a small, spongy, pale yellow madeleine from the plastic encasement, covered with a white paper tissue wrap. No bag needed, I assured the slicer, the delicacy would be thoroughly enjoyed before reaching the first traffic light, she laughed knowingly, and it was. By the third traffic light, my fingers edged a few twists of the green wire bag closure revealing the tempting teeny tiny end piece of crunchy golden outer crust on the loaf and it’s delicately tender light dough within. Crusty crunch crisp. Crusty crunch crisp. Exceptional. So was the next slice… I so respect the sophistication of a purely simple loaf of good bread, it really is an art. A really great bread can even take a traditional salad from basic to classic and transform it to a heightened rustic flavor with the elegance of perfection.
And there is more than plenty of abundance to share with this large loaf at hand, sandwiched between light, airy texture, edges blanketed with a golden, crusty, crunch, creamy and crispy contents enhanced from leaves of one scented green herb, the pleasure of a relished spring menu item , Tarragon Chicken Salad with Bacon on Crusty Sourdough.
- 3 cups cooked chicken, cubed or shredded, around 2 large breasts, or picked chicken meat from a small boiled chicken
- 2 stalks celery, chopped finely
- 1/2 red onion, chopped finely
- 1 small bunch fresh tarragon (around 6-8 small stems) leaves peeled from stem, coarse chopped,
- 2 tablespoons mayonnaise, or more to taste
- a couple good pinches each coarse kosher salt, cracked black pepper, more or less to taste
- 4 slices bacon, crisp cooked
- 8 small romaine lettuce leaves
- 4 slices Swiss cheese
- 8 slices golden crusty sourdough bread
- In a large glass bowl combine together the chicken, celery, onion, fold mayonnaise throughout. Sprinkle in salt and pepper, check seasoning to taste, add in tarragon and stir through gently. Spoon prepared chicken salad onto each of four slices of crusty sourdough, break each piece of bacon in half before topping and placing onto each chicken salad, add on a slice of cheese, then finish placing two small leaves romaine lettuce onto each sandwich finishing with the other slice of crusty sourdough.