Tuesday, September 19, 2006


Sonoma Chicken Salad

Mmm. Chicken salad.

Sonoma style.

What makes it Sonoma style? Well, other than the name, I think it’s gotta be the grapes. I really can’t think of any other reason it’s called that. Sonoma is grape growing country after all. The addition of walnuts and tarragon, well, you got me on that one…

Of course, this being my blog - purportedly a venue for recipes I have devised - I should be a touch more in control of said recipes…and yet…well, I’ve been feeling a bit out of control lately, so it's no big shock its poured over into my cooking.

And really, what better way to regain control than to eat something that comforts. That brings happy memories with every bite, something that soothes the soul and tummy all in one.

Which, my dears, is how I managed to stir up a bowl full of memories. Sonoma chicken salad.

This is a recipe I kinda-sorta vaguely recall from a brief but glorious stint, way back in the day, as counter girl at an adorable deli in San Francisco (which, btw, I suspect is under new ownership. Anyone been there in the last few yaers? Any good?)

I'm not entirely sure what it was about that salad that I glammed on to it so tightly way back then, but I have been making my version of it for years, and it never fails to cheer/ground/entice me. Not my cooking mind you, the somewhat unexpected combination of perfect flavors. Smoky chicken, strong sharp tarragon, the crunch of walnuts and just a tiny amount of mayo to bind it all together in lunch-time salad bliss. Try it, and tell me you don’t agree. Enjoy.

½ pound chicken meat (Deboned. I use thighs and breasts.)
¼ teaspoon olive oil
3 drops liquid smoke
1 teaspoon Dijon style mustard
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
salt and pepper
1 heaping tablespoon fresh tarragon, minced
1 cup red grapes, halved
3 tablespoons toasted walnut pieces

In a medium (non-stick) saute pan, heat the olive oil. Add the chicken and brown. Turn and continue to cook until, uh, cooked. Add the liquid smoke and cook for another few seconds. Remove from the pan and allow to cool thoroughly.

Shred or dice the chicken.

In a large bowl, stir together the mustard, mayo, salt and pepper and tarragon. Add the rest of the ingredients. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.

Serves two.


There are 350 Certified Farmers' Markets throughout the state of California.

Yum Brands Inc; the parent of Taco Bell, Pizza Hut and KFC fast-food chains, said Monday it expects to post a two per cent decline in third-quarter U.S. same-store sales, or sales at stores open at least a year. – AP

There are approximately 4,400 wine-grape growers in California and 3000 commercial wineries in the U.S., 1,300 of which are in California. More than half of the California wineries sell fewer than 5,000 cases annually. There are 191 wineries in Sonoma county California alone. All 50 states have certified wineries.

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Is there a type of liquid smoke that's good? The term brings up scary memories of things like Gravy Master from my youth!
Oh my...thanks for the recipe! It looks absolutely divine. I am in loooove with chicken salad, and I especially love that you've kept it simple.
Man..everyone making chicken salad today???
WMM -dunno!

Sarah - Thanks!

Brian - I use SO little it just imparts a hint of smoke...thats the trick, using more than a few drops is no good...
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