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Recipe: Classic Neiman Marcus Chicken Salad*

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*Salads, technically, as there seem to be multiple versions tagged the "classic."

Having foolishly committed myself to completing every recipe in this Neiman Marcus cookbook in a gesture of New Year's ambition, I decided to focus first on those considered to be the "favorite" Neiman Marcus dishes.

This completely updated edition of the classic Neiman Marcus cookbook brings together recipes for all of its timeless favorites--from the Popovers with Strawberry Butter and the Chicken Salad to the famous Chocolate Chip Cookies.

It should be noted that I don't necessarily consider them my "favorite", "signature," "classic," Neiman Marcus etc. because I have never eaten a meal at Neiman Marcus. The cookbook was a lovely gift from a co-worker and the majority of the recipes not only personally appealed to me on based on their composition and taste but also on the relatively low difficulty level required. No soufflés!

Apparently, however, many, many people have fond memories of eating chicken salad at Neiman Marcus over the decades, and perhaps for that reason, there are actual multiple "official" Neiman Marcus chicken salads. The recipes after the jump:

This story continues on the next page.

I divided the base ingredients so that I could make two versions. First, the recipe included on my Neiman Marcus cookbook for a ostensibly plain salad.

Neiman Marcus Chicken Salad #1

  • 2 lb., boneless, skinless chicken breasts cleaned of sinew and fat
  • ½ cup diced celery
  • 1 tbsp cider vinegar
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 3 tbsp heavy cream
  • 1½ tsp kosher salt
  • 1/8 tsp freshly ground white pepper

Rinse the chicken breasts under cold running water and place in a small saucepan filled with enough water to cover the chicken by 2 inches. Bring to a boil, turn down to a simmer, and poach the breasts for 20 minutes. Pour off the cooking liquid when finished and, holding with tongs, rinse the breasts under cold running water until cool to the touch. Place the breasts on a serving plate, cover tightly with plastic warp, and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Remove the plastic warp and dice the chicken into 1/2-inch cubes. Transfer to a mixing bowl and add the celery, vinegar, mayonnaise, cream, salt, and pepper. Mix together and then cover with plastic wrap. Chill for about 2 hours before serving.

Neiman Marcus Chicken Salad #2

  • 1 lb. cooked chicken breasts, shredded or cut into cubes
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 cup thinly sliced celery
  • 1 cup halved purple grapes
  • ½ cup sliced almonds, toasted
  • 1 tbsp. finely chopped parsley
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • ½ cup whipped cream
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Combine chicken, mayonnaise, celery, grapes, almonds, parsley, and salt in a bowl. Fold in whipped cream and pepper to combine thoroughly.

"Ostensibly plain" is the key phrase to describe Chicken Salad No. 1, which thanks to the addition of whipped cream, is thick and very rich. What it lacks is variation in flavor and texture and for that Chicken Salad No. 2 gets the prize as the combination of nuts, grapes, parsley, and celery causes the taste profile to alternate between earthy, rough, sweet, soft, tangy, crispy, and botanical.

One advantage Chicken Salad No. 1 has over No. 2 is that it is far easier to spread/pile onto crackers if that's your preferred method of consuming cold protein salads. For fancy sandwich devotees, go for No. 2.

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