by Angela Perez
Not so very long ago, I was cooking up a few things to take with me on a visit to see my folks (they live about an hour and a half away). So there I was in my kitchen, singing and humming, happily going about the business of making my toasted pecan chicken salad and then my roasted poblano pimento cheese. And I decided to mix the two together just to see what would happen – you know, just me gettin’ all inventive and what not on a Friday night – and MY GAWD – the combo was so gloriously delicious that it almost didn’t make it to the family shindig. Why did I never think of combining pimento cheese chicken salad before?!? SO YUMMY.
You can look up a zillion chicken salad and pimento cheese recipes. Chicken salad and pimento cheese are an important addition to any U.S. Southern get together, especially in the summer. We do love some chicken salad and some pimento cheese sandwiches – especially on plain ole’ soft white Wonder bread. I’ve decided that I will share with you some of my own secrets for both.
For my chicken salad: I toast pecans, crush them up and stir them in. I also use only use Duke’s mayo (to learn more about Duke’s signature tang, check out this NPR article) and I mince a few dried figs to mix in. I tried out the figs on a whim one day and I swear, it works. Now this next ingredient might be a bit controversial, but I prefer to use pre-cooked chicken from a pouch, like StarKist Premium White Chicken. I like the flavor and texture AND, when I am pressed for time and inclination, it’s quick and easy. I also add in finely chopped sweet onion.
For my pimento cheese: I hand shred my sharp cheddar cheese when I have time. But, if I’m in a time crunch, I have no problem using pre-shredded cheese. I also roast poblano peppers and dice them and add them in. And, of course, I always use Duke’s mayo. And like my chicken salad, I crush up toasted pecans and stir them in. I love nuttiness in all of my salads.
I am thinking that for my next pimento cheese chicken salad combo spread, I will toast pine nuts, crush them and add them in. I’ll let you know how that goes. Like my chicken salad, I add in finely chopped onion.
Ah, anything is possible in the evolution of Southern cuisine.