This is a modified version of a chicken salad sandwich recipe I grew up eating in the summer in the Cape Cod area where I'm from. There are a lot of steps to it, especially for a salad, but the end result is worth it. The apples are cooked which adds a nice tang and the addition of maple syrup to the salad dressing adds just the right amount of sweetness. If you can find Cains brand mayonnaise, another New England favorite, I would highly recommend it. - Abduffy —Abduffy
Test Kitchen Notes
New Englandish, New Englandelish. Abduffy forewarns us that there are a lot of steps with this salad, but hey, you are getting a whole dinner out of it. And the very clear steps never get tedious. Not only does this salad deliver, it rewards with a number of surprises at each turn. The fresh dill and thyme, capped with bacon, make the apples refreshingly savory, while the maple syrup and cider sweeten up the chicken in an interesting role reversal that works. The fresh greens get mixed up with the cooled apple bits. Dried cranberries and blueberries join the party. Roasted pecans get invited as the southern cousins. Savory apples; sweet, tender chicken; berries and nuts come together with a final dressing that combines mustard, maple syrup, bacon drippings and cider to brighten up mayo. The final salad, a complete dinner, does New England very proud. I made it a second time with fresh blueberries and enjoyed it even more. Thanks, Abduffy for a salad with so many endearing surprises. —Sagegreen
- Serves 2 as a meal 4 as a starter
large size tart apples. I like to use Fuji when available.
ground black pepper
fresh thyme finely chopped
chopped fresh dill
good quality bacon
good quality maple syrup
good quality apple cider
bonless skinless chicken breasts
bag of baby spinach leaves drained and rinsed
head of romaine lettuce drained, risned, and ripped by hand into bite size pieces
roughly chopped previously roasted pecan pieces
good quality mayonnaise
reserved bacon fat
apple cider vinegar
- Line the bottom of a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
- Chop apples roughly into 1/2 inch pieces and combine them in a bowl with black pepper, 1 teaspoon dill, and thyme.
- Place the apple pieces on the lined baking sheet.
- Place uncooked bacon pieces on top of apple slices and set aside.
- In a small square baking dish combine 2 tablespoons of the maple syrup with 4 ounces of the apple cider with a fork just until blended.
- Lightly salt and pepper chicken breasts and place in the baking dish and flip to cover breasts on both sides with the apple cider/maple syrup mixture.
- Place both the baking dish and the baking sheet in oven and put the temperature at 400%.
- Cook both items in oven turning both over once halfway through until done. The whole process takes about 20 minutes, with the bacon usually finishing before the chicken.
- Remove both items from the oven and remove the bacon from the apple pieces, crumble it, and set aside.
- At this point, the apples should be soft and a light golden color. Place the apple pieces back in the oven and cook until darker brown, about another 10 minutes, stirring them occasionally.
- While the apples cook, shred chicken breasts with fork in the baking dish and let sit in any remaining liquid in the baking dish.
- Remove apple pieces from oven and set aside to cool.
- In large bowl combine both lettuces, cranberries, blueberries and pecan pieces.
- In another bowl, combine remaining maple syrup, remaining apple cider, mustard, remaining dill, mayonnaise, bacon fat, and cider vinegar. Whisk until just combined. It will be a little runny but that's ok.
- Toss cooled apple pieces in the bowl with lettuce mixture.
- In separate individual bowls place salad/apple mixture and top with the shredded chicken and bacon crumbles. Finish the dish with as much dressing as you would like.