Pantry Raid: Curried Chicken Salad

Shortly after I started eating meat more regularly, I saw Ina Garten make curried chicken salad on an episode of her show, Barefoot Contessa. My immediate thought was that it looked good (and, duh, her food always looks amazing) and sounded different, but I didn’t immediately put it at the top of my “recipes to try” list, and here’s why.

I took a big pause at the idea of curry and chutney mixed together, really skeptical about how two strong-tasting ingredients like that would taste when mixed together. Also, I was never a big fan of traditional chicken salad. Growing up, my dad and I would go out for sandwiches for lunch on a regular basis. Whenever I ordered chicken salad from a nearby deli or restaurant, it often tasted bland and mushy, with tiny pieces of chicken and not enough crunch from celery and onion to make up for the amount of mayo put in the salad.

Knowing that Ina has rarely led me astray, I gave the recipe a try and was soon obsessed. For a while I made this salad at least once a week, without fail, to bring to work for lunch. It has a totally unexpected flavor on account of the chutney and curry, which do taste good together after all. It’s creamy without tasting like eating a spoonful of mayo, and super-crunchy from the celery and cashews, one of my favorite nuts.

Ina’s Curried Chicken Salad has become a pantry staple recipe; I keep the ingredients on-hand for whenever I’m in the mood to make a quick dinner or lunch for work. Using the original recipe as a guide, here are a few things that I like to adjust when I make it.

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Grilled Orange Chicken

Last year was a big year of canning for me. I made countless batches of jams and jellies, fermented pickles, fresh-pack tomatoes in their own juices, a few batches of applesauce, and other things that are happily at-home in my basement pantry.

What I guess I just revealed to you is this: If the zombie apocalypse comes and in the event that anything happens to me (i.e., let’s hope Darryl rescues me from a zombie hoard and we ride off into the sunset together on his motorcycle), my house is a good location to raid for food.

Anyway... I give away a lot of my canned goods as gifts to friends and family, but one of my favorites that I selfishly held on to was a batch of bourbon and black pepper orange marmalade.

I recently had a craving to do something that involved more than just spreading the marmalade on toasted English muffins with butter — which is amazing, by the way. I was also craving Chinese food at the time and thought a savory application, orange chicken with some steamed vegetables, would be the thing to try.

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