I am always looking for an easy answer to the dinner quandry. I am constantly amazed when the 24-hour meal cycle rolls around again, and there we are, with anxious, gnarling bellies, pawing through the fridge. With a tall college student home for spring break, key ingredients tend to go missing sooner than we had planned. And his belly is the loudest and the most demanding of steady fueling.
I usually have a stash of chicken in the freezer and any variety of complementary foodstuffs, albeit boring ones: rice, egg noodles, risotto. (I have a killer recipe for a Chicken Club Salad – but wasn’t up for the strain of cooking bacon or frying up the perfect crouton as I am eschewing bread right now.) I was looking for something with a little zing – something spring-y. And considering we will be losing an hour this weekend because of the unexpectedly early return of Daylight Savings Time, we had best not waste any more time dithering.
I found Nigella Lawson’s delightful take on a chicken salad, that is itself an update on Coronation Chicken which was concocted almost 60 years ago in celebration of the Queen’s Coronation. So remember this recipe if you want to have an au courant dish for your big street party come June 3rd. Nigella’s is very twenty-first century and easy to prepare, if you can find mangoes. If not, try apricots or cantaloupe, or whatever colorful fruit that will entice your family’s fickle fancy.
1 mango, cut into approx. 1/2-inch cubes
1 scallion, finely chopped
1 – 2 red chilies (to taste), seeded and finely chopped
Juice of 1 – 2 limes (to taste)
1 cold, cooked whole chicken breast, cut into chunks (more if you have a Tall One lurking nearby)
1 Little Gem or small Boston lettuce, sliced or shredded
1 large handful fresh cilantro, chopped
1 teaspoon peanut oil
Few drops toasted sesame oil
“Tumble the mango cubes, and any juice they make, into a bowl and, with your hands, mix in the chopped scallion and chili and squeeze over the lime juice: use as much or as little as you want; frankly, the amount of juice you can get from a lime varies enormously from one to another.
I tend to leave all these to steep while I get on with the rest of my shredding and chopping, but whatever way you do it, tumble in the chunked chicken and shredded lettuce and most of the cilantro and, using your hands, toss to combine. Add the oils and toss again, then decant onto a large serving plate and sprinkle over the remaining bit of cilantro.” NL
The original recipe called for canned apricot halves, mayonnaise, whipping cream and watercress. My goodness.
This is a very amusing variation, with some deep affection for The Queen Mother: http://foodforthethoughtless.com/2009/05/coronation-chicken-salad-fit-for-a-queen/
And this is what will make your belly well and truly gnarling, a list of foods by a homesick Mark Twain. I found it on a very entertaining website: http://www.listsofnote.com.
It has now been many months, at the present writing, since I have had a nourishing meal, but I shall soon have one—a modest, private affair, all to myself. I have selected a few dishes, and made out a little bill of fare, which will go home in the steamer that precedes me, and be hot when I arrive—as follows:
Radishes. Baked apples, with cream
Fried oysters; stewed oysters. Frogs.
American coffee, with real cream.
Fried chicken, Southern style.
Broiled chicken, American style.
Hot biscuits, Southern style.
Hot wheat-bread, Southern style.
Hot buckwheat cakes.
American toast. Clear maple syrup.
Virginia bacon, broiled.
Blue points, on the half shell.
San Francisco mussels, steamed.
Oyster soup. Clam Soup.
Philadelphia Terapin soup.
Oysters roasted in shell-Northern style.
Soft-shell crabs. Connecticut shad.
Brook trout, from Sierra Nevadas.
Lake trout, from Tahoe.
Sheep-head and croakers, from New Orleans.
Black bass from the Mississippi.
American roast beef.
Roast turkey, Thanksgiving style.
Cranberry sauce. Celery.
Roast wild turkey. Woodcock.
Canvas-back-duck, from Baltimore.
Prairie liens, from Illinois.
Missouri partridges, broiled.
Boston bacon and beans.
Bacon and greens, Southern style.
Hominy. Boiled onions. Turnips.
Pumpkin. Squash. Asparagus.
Butter beans. Sweet potatoes.
Lettuce. Succotash. String beans.
Mashed potatoes. Catsup.
Boiled potatoes, in their skins.
New potatoes, minus the skins.
Early rose potatoes, roasted in the ashes, Southern style, served hot.
Sliced tomatoes, with sugar or vinegar. Stewed tomatoes.
Green corn, cut from the ear and served with butter and pepper.
Green corn, on the ear.
Hot corn-pone, with chitlings, Southern style.
Hot hoe-cake, Southern style.
Hot egg-bread, Southern style.
Hot light-bread, Southern style.
Buttermilk. Iced sweet milk.
Apple dumplings, with real cream.
Apple pie. Apple fritters.
Apple puffs, Southern style.
Peach cobbler, Southern style
Peach pie. American mince pie.
Pumpkin pie. Squash pie.
All sorts of American pastry.
Fresh American fruits of all sorts, including strawberries which are not to be doled out as if they were jewelry, but in a more liberal way.
Ice-water—not prepared in the ineffectual goblet, but in the sincere and capable refrigerator.