This salad is inspired by a sandwich shop in Burlington, VT. I am very picky about my chicken salad (not too much mayo, crunchy celery, maybe some grapes, good seasoning, no nuts!), and never thought I'd like this. It sounds too soft and too sweet, but please try it! With sourdough toast, good pickles, strong-flavored swiss cheese and honey mustard it is beyond memorable. —Posie (Harwood) Brien
chicken breasts, skinless and boneless
apples, diced (use a tart, crisp apple)
head of broccoli, chopped (chop the stems thinly)
Place your chicken breasts in a shallow sauté pan and cover them with water by at least an inch. Bring to a strong simmer, and let them poach until they are cooked through (about 20 minutes). **Reserve a half cup of the poaching liquid to use later.**
Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Place your diced apples in a Pyrex roasting pan and cover them with the honey (use more or less honey as you need…you just want the apples coated but not swimming). Bake the apples until golden brown (about 20 minutes).
Bring a pot of slightly salted water to a boil. Toss in your chopped broccoli and blanch it quickly (only cook it for a few minutes -- it should still have a good crunch). Submerge the broccoli in ice water to stop the cooking and keep the bright green color.
Once your poached chicken is ready and has cooled slightly, shred it with your fingers or a fork and knife into small, pulled pieces.
Put your baked apples, blanched broccoli, pulled chicken, and mayo into a large bowl and mix to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add the 1/2 cup of poaching liquid, about a tablespoon at a time, until the salad is well-bound but not liquidy at all. You will probably only need a few tablespoons. Top with shredded basil.
Serve: spread honey mustard on toasted sourdough bread.Top with the chicken salad, strong-tasted Swiss cheese, and dill pickles. Or serve over crisp lettuce leaves.