Every community, particularly in the South, has those handful of classic community cookbooks that everyone seems to own, or haveaccess to, or just know about. They are the reference points for the community table.
When you are at a party, or have friends over and someone prepares a great dish, how often is the answer to the recipe request, “oh, it’s in…” In Memphis, the end of that sentence is frequently, “Heart and Soul” one of the most popular of the local Junior League’s cookbook offerings.
I have made a few adjustments to the recipe to streamline the prep and refine the flavor. And I serve them with a blue cheese dip, which complements the chicken and pecans so well. And these do freeze beautifully, so you can always have some on hand.
Melt the butter in the chicken broth in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Dump in the flour all at once and stir vigorously with a sturdy wooden spoon. The mixture will roll away from the sides of the pan and come together in a ball. Keep stirring until the mixture is relatively smooth. Remove from the heat and leave to cool slightly.
Meanwhile, finely chop the cooked chicken breast. You want small pieces.
When the flour mixture has cooled, add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition until smooth and completely combined. Stir in the chicken, pecans, parsley, Worcestershire, poultry seasoning and celery salt and stir until well combined.
Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Scoop the chicken bites onto the pan. I use a 2 Tablespoon cookie scoop for a nice hearty bite, which makes about 2 dozen. Feel free to scoop smaller bites if you’d prefer.
You can preheat to oven to 400 degrees and cook the bites immediately for 20- 30 minutes until firm and golden, or freeze the tray of unbaked bites for a few hours until firm, then remove to a zip-top freezer bag. Bake from frozen, but you may need to increase the cooking time accordingly. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Blue Cheese Dip
Place the blue cheese, yogurt, and mayonnaise in a blender and blend until smooth. Add a little milk to thin it out to a dipping consistency as needed. Season generously with black pepper. Pour the dip in a bowl, cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
The dip can be made up to 2 days ahead. You may want to thin it with a little milk before serving.