Saturday, January 24, 2009

Spicy Chicken Waldorf Salad


C just doesn’t get the Waldorf Salad. I placed a plate of it before him and I could have been handing him a pair of patent red stilettos judging by the puzzled-but-I-think-I-still-get-it look on his face. “It’s a Waldorf Salad,” I piped encouragingly (in the same tone that I would say, “Of course I’ll wear them!”). Hmmm..."It’s interesting,” he says – which is C-speak for “I’ll eat it but please don’t put it in the daily rotation.

Humph. I guess not everyone is as devoted to mayonnaise (and mayonnaise based foods) as I am. Nor is everyone as taken with charmingly retro dishes.

The Waldorf Salad was created in the Waldorf Hotel of New York in 1893, by the maître d'hôtel at that time, Oscar Tschirky. Although some say not. The famous maître d'hôtel is also said to be have put together the first Eggs Benedict. Although this too is contested. Cole Porter includes the Waldorf Salad in his list of Top things. I imagine many a nervous wife of a time before me, trotting this out to her stockbroker husband and friends.

(Could this be why C didn’t take to it? Because he isn’t a stockbroker and I’m not a nervous trotting wife? Hmmm. Could be...)

Whichever account is true; this is just the sort of glamorous, F. Scott Fitzgerlad-y provenance I love my food to have. So even if apple + celery + mayonnaise + walnuts may elicit a bit of a question mark from some...I’ll be lining up for this salad with my silver spoon in hand, high-heels clicking, and Cole Porter in my head.

Spicy Chicken Waldorf Salad

  • 1 cup chopped red apples, cored but unpeeled
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup (approximately) chopped cooked chicken breast (2 chicken breast fillets, pan-fried in olive oil with salt and pepper, then chopped)
  • 3-4 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • Juice of 1/2 to one whole lemon
  • Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • Cayenne pepper (or any spicy chilli you like)
  • Lettuce leaves (just enough to line 2-3 plates)

- Toss all the ingredients, using only half the lemon’s juice and 3 tablespoons mayonnaise, in a bowl and mix gently until just combined. Taste and adjust – add lemon or mayonnaise as to your taste. Adjust salt and pepper to taste as well.
- Serve chilled on a bed of lettuce.
- Serves 2-3.

Originally, the Waldorf consisted of only apples, celery, and mayonnaise. Walnuts came later, but are now an essential part of the dish. I’ve added chicken to mine, as many versions have, to make it more substantial as a meal. I also added some cayenne pepper to make it spicy – because I love all things spicy – though I’ve probably done Mr. Tschirky and Mr. Porter grave offense. This will serve 2-3, but if your significant other does not appreciate retro-glamour and loses interest after a small plate, keep the extras and have it as a sandwich or a wrap the next day. But don’t be too hard on him – we can’t all live in This Side of Paradise – give him a kiss and promise him adobo and remember that it’s our differences that make life exciting :)


Maggie said...

I adore waldorf salad :) This recipe sounds simple and great!

Amanda at Little Foodies said...

Oh Joey, that's such a beautiful picture and it looks like I'd love it but I'm with C, I don't get waldorf salad and I really wish I did.

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Delightful and tasty! Yummy!



Katrina said...

I don't get how one could NOT get it! ;-) Waldorf Salad used to be one of less than a handful of salads I'd eat...mostly 'cause it doesn't have much greens, if at all. I didn't know that it didn't originally have walnuts and chicken; I don't think I would've liked the original version, then. Then again, these days there are so many versions of this, most of which I wouldn't touch. I've seen Waldorf Salad without apples or walnuts!

MeetaK said...

i have to admit i am not much of a mayo lover either!! but i think this would work if i subbed the mayo with quark lol! looks great!

Marvin said...

I'd probably react much like C did, though it's because I've never actually had Waldorf Salad. After my initial unfamiliarity wore off, I'd probably scarf it down and end up liking it;)

bee said...

that looks scrumptious. i love the idea of the lettuce boats.

Kevin said...

That is a nice looking salad.

Matin said...

Looks yummy, love to try it sometimes soon:-)

mikky said...

you could put it in front of me instead... lol... :) happy chinese new year!!!

Erin said...

I have never eaten a Waldorf salad, never appealed to me. Now that I look at it it looks pretty good, and I like the addition of cayenne to liven it up. I think I may have to give it a whirl.

Lori said...

My mom always loves Waldorf salad. I wasn't a big fan, but this one sounds very tasty. I think i should revisit it.

Midge said...

What a pretty salad! Waldorf's an old family favorite of ours, but we tend to add curry powder to the dressing for some extra zing.

ChichaJo said...

Hi Maggie! So do I :)

Hi Amanda! I can see how it would be non-gettable...don’t worry, theoretically I know it’s a weird combi...but I just love it! ;)

Thanks Rosa!

Hi Katrina! Haha! Somehow I knew I could count on you :) Come to think of it, I probably like it so much because when I was younger “salads with no greens” were my favourite – potato salad right on top! Yes, no walnuts or chicken originally...imagine that, shiver-shiver!

Hi Meeta! I have seen recipes that substitute yogurt (or sour cream) for the mayonnaise so I’m sure that would be just as yummy :)

Hi Marvin! Heehee :) It’s very good...that’s what I thought about hot prawn salad at first but now I loooove it! :)

Hi Bee! Thanks! Since this salad is traditionally served on a bed of lettuce I thought these “boats” would be just the ticket :)

Hi Kevin! Thanks :)

Hi Matin! Thanks for stopping by :)

Hi Mikky! Maybe I will! Happy Chinese New Year to you too!

Hi Erin! I can see how the ingredients all lumped together can seem strange...but it really is a good mix :)

Hi Lori! You know, it does strike me as something our mothers would like...but yes, worth a revisit :)

Hi Midge! Curry powder sounds good! Will try that next time :)

Lael said...

Waldorf salad does seem to be one of those dishes that has a bad rap because it's been served at too many potlucks or something. But the retro-ness of it really does have an appeal factor. And your pretty photograph helps too :)

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

And I'll be right in line next to you. Minus the heels, too old for those.
Love waldorf salads. My mom made them often when I was growing up and I do again now.

Suzana said...

I've meant to make Waldorf Salad for a while but winter here hasn't been gentle this year. I was reading a book, and the main characters were having Waldorf salad (and like C. not quite convinced about it...). Will give it a try as soon as spring arrives! ;)

Manggy said...

Ah, Waldorf salad is great. C is joking :) And with cayenne, it's sure to be well-loved by me :) I tend to just like a *hint* of mayonnaise,h... Just enough for a thin coating on the cubes!

Rico said...

Perfect timing. We've been trying to detox with fruits and salads for dinner. Mixed fruits tossed in calamansi and honey can ony go so far you know!

Jen Tan said...

it looks so good! I saw this on your FB and followed it here---yummmm! I love chicken salad! I love walnuts! hahaha =)

Jen Tan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ChichaJo said...

Hi Lael! I can imagine this being a potluck staple once upon a time! I love retro :)

Hi Tanna! Nice to know you like them too! Ok, maybe kitten heels ;)

Hi Suzana! See! It really is the sort of salad that a character in a book would have to love that about it :)

Hi Manggy! Less mayo is healthier...I have too many bad habits already :)

Hi Rico! Haha! I should be eating more mix fruits with calamansi and honey! Ooh, you’ve just reminded me to :)

Hi Jen! Thanks! You would love this then! :)

Janne Marijke said...


We usually blend the mayo with whipped cream, equal parts. It makes it less heavy. And for me, who are not a huge fan of mayo, that tastes just great!

ChichaJo said...

Hi Janne! Thanks for the tip! That is good to know :)

ravisingh said...

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Studio 889 said...

I love this salad. It always was part of Christmas dinner in my house. I am continuing this tradition. I love to add grapes to it.