Chicken salad is often an uninspired combination of bland chicken cubes and globs of mayonnaise. In this French-inspired version, we start with meat from roasted bone-in chicken pieces, shred it, and mix it with tart apples, celery, mayonnaise, and anise-y tarragon, plus diced red onion that’s been mellowed by champagne vinegar. The result is an elegant salad that can be eaten for a light lunch with greens or served in a buttery croissant along with a refreshing wine cocktail.
- Yield: About 6 cups
- Difficulty: Easy
- Total: 1 hr 20 mins, plus 1 hr chilling time
- 2 bone-in chicken breasts (about 2 pounds)
- 2 whole chicken legs (thigh and drumstick, about 1 1/2 pounds)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup small-dice red onion
- 2 tablespoons champagne vinegar
- 1 cup small-dice tart apple, such as Braeburn, Granny Smith, or Gravenstein
- 2/3 cup small-dice celery (from about 2 medium celery stalks)
- 2/3 cup mayonnaise
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh tarragon leaves
- Heat the oven to 400°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Rub the chicken on both sides with the olive oil and season generously on both sides with salt and pepper. Place on a baking sheet and cook until an instant-read thermometer registers 160°F, about 45 to 50 minutes.
- Remove the chicken from the baking sheet to a cutting board and let it rest until cool enough to handle, about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, place the onion and vinegar in a small, nonreactive bowl and set aside.
- When the chicken has cooled, remove the meat from the bone, discarding the skin, cartilage, and fat. Tear the meat into bite-sized pieces and place in a large bowl (you should have about 4 cups).
- Add the onion-vinegar mixture and the remaining ingredients, season with salt and pepper, and stir to evenly combine. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper as needed. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, about 1 hour.