Last weekend I was in Maine and had lunch with my Dad and Judi. It was one of those easy Saturday lunches with a spread of beautiful sandwiches, a big bowl of chips and brownies for dessert.
I opted for the chicken salad, which looked relatively standard with large chunks of chicken, mayo and red grapes. My first bite delivered a total curve ball, however – blue cheese. It caught me off guard and it was delicious. As I devoured the second half of my sandwich, it occurred to me, I don’t usually associate cheese with chicken salad. Celery, walnuts, red onion, maybe some herbs or even the occasional curry – all relatively garden-variety, but cheese? So out of the ordinary.
Obviously, this is a major missed cheese opportunity. I’ll add a little Danish Blue to just about anything – it adds a really nice tangy twist. I roasted 2 bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts because that’s what Ina always does, but you could just as easily pick-up a rotisserie chicken from the store. Take this basic recipe and try adding almonds or pecans, sun flower seeds, parsley, scallions or cranberries.
Serve this with lemonade, chips, pickles and brownies for dessert and you’ve got the perfect Saturday lunch.
Blue Cheese Chicken Salad
Inspired by Clayton’s Famous Chicken Salad Sandwich
2 split (1 whole) chicken breasts, bone-in, skin-on (1½ pounds)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 sprigs, fresh thyme
1/2 cup good mayonnaise
1/2 cup mild blue cheese, crumbled
3/4 cup green grapes, cut in half
Lettuce leaves and bread, for serving
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Place the chicken breasts, skin side up, on a baking sheet and rub them with olive oil. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper and thyme sprigs. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through. Set aside until cool.
When the chicken is cool, remove meat from the bones and discard the skin and bones. Cut the chicken into a 3/4-inch dice.
In a large bowl, combine the mayo and the crumbled blue cheese. Add the chicken and grapes and gently mix. Season with salt and pepper.
Assemble sandwiches, cut in half and serve.
The original Famous Chicken Salad Sandwich can be found at Clayton’s Cafe & Bakery in Yarmouth, ME.