The Perfect Spanish Summer Chicken Salad
A few weeks ago this summer chicken salad sprung back into my life. I pulled out some dusty go-to recipes from my Annie B’s Parties & Lunches days, when based in Battersea in London and was reminded of dishes I’d long forgotten about but are so relevant to Spanish ingredients and summer entertaining.
This wonderful summer chicken salad was inspired by the late and great Australian, Joan Campbell, from her book called Bloody Delicious. I used to make it for 1000’s in my Capital Radio days. To make it more relevant to Spain, balsamic has been replaced with PX Sherry vinegar , thanks to an idea from Jez of the wonderful La Feria Harrogate. Jez and I often talk food. You’ll even find my wonderful sticky citrus, almond & olive oil cakes on his menu!
- If you don’t have PX Sherry vinegar, use Balsamic in preference to regular Sherry vinegar.
- Jamon can be replaced with prosciutto or crispy bacon bits.
- Pine nuts – always seek out Spanish or Italian, they are more expensive but the difference is HUGE. The world is flooded with the cheaper nasty Chinese pine nuts so please avoid them.
- Only with the dressing ingredients do you need to be precise
- Even better if you make this the day or even days ahead.
This will feed 6;
1 x whole chicken (approx. 1.75 kilos) or 6 chicken breasts
1 x 200g jar of sun-dried tomatoes in Olive Oil
15g toasted pine nuts, preferably Iberian or Italian
75g Jamon Iberico
2 handfuls of fresh basil
6 fl oz olive oil – use the oil from the tomatoes and top up with mild extra virgin
3 x tablespoons of PX Sherry vinegar (or balsamic)
3 tsp Dijon mustard
Maldon salt & cracked black pepper
- Put your chicken into a big pot and cover with water. I add 3-4 large teaspoons of salt, an onion cut in half and some parsley stalks. Bring to the boil and simmer gently for 40-50 minutes. Switch off and leave to cool. The final result is better when dressing is mixed with tepid chicken so aim to mix ripped chicken with the dressing before it’s stone cold. If using just breasts, cut cooking time in half.
- Make your dressing by opening the jar of tomatoes and place contents in a sieve over a measuring jug. Shake to extract as much oil as possible. Even press gently. Add remaining ingredients and blend with a stick/hand blender until a thick emulsion is formed.
- Using scissors, cut tomatoes into strips.
- When your chicken is coolish, rip the meat off the bone (reserving wishbone!) into mouth sized pieces. Don’t rip too small otherwise it will end up like glue when you fold through the dressing. Add dressing bit by bit and fold through along with the sun-dried tomatoes. Taste a bit of chicken for seasoning. Sometimes the chicken drinks the dressing. If you feel it’s had enough, keep the rest in a jar in fridge for adding more later or the next time you make it. At this stage you can leave the chicken mixture in the fridge until needed.
- If chicken looks a bit dry, fold through more dressing. Arrange on a serving platter. Top with ripped or cut strips of Jamon. Sprinkle with the toasted pine nuts and as many basil leaves as you like
Try serving this with a crunchy green salad, my Spanish Potato Salad and Delia Smith’s summer roasted peppers another of my recently re-discovered old favourites that we’ve been making in the kitchen recently!
Find me a Fino Sherry!! Also delicious paired with ultra-chilled Rose wine.