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I think chicken salad is a great summer and spring meal but more and more I crave something refreshing during the winter months too. It comes together really quickly, especially when using sous vide chicken breasts. I love using varied garnishes to add texture and bursts of flavor. In this recipe I call for the typical celery and carrots, but I also add toasted cashews and green grapes to add even more flavor. Some basil rounds it all out. When served on a bed of greens it's an amazingly flavorful meal.
I like my sous vide chicken breasts cooked at 141°F (60.6°C) until pasteurized, normally 2 to 3 hours. Though with chicken salad you can get away with a higher temperature if you prefer. I often don't even sear the chicken when I'm in a hurry and no one has ever complained!
You can get as creative as you want with the salad part of the dish. I usually use a simple mayonnaise base with some mustard, olive oil, and lemon juice added. I always enjoy some paprika and cayenne chile powder to add some smokiness and bite.
When I want to try some more flavorful chicken, I often turn to Crowd Cow.
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Preheat a water bath to 141°F (60.5°C).
Mix together the spices in a small bowl. Lightly salt and pepper the chicken breasts then sprinkle with the spice mixture. Place in a sous vide bag then seal. Cook the chicken breasts for 2 to 4 hours until pasteurized.
For more information on the cooking times you can read my detailed article which addresses why is there a range in sous vide cooking times.
Whisk together all of the dressing ingredients then salt and pepper to taste.
Take the chicken breasts out of the water bath and remove them from the bag. Pat them dry with a paper towel or dish cloth. Quickly sear the chicken for 1 to 2 minutes per side, until just browned, then remove from the heat. Shred or chop the chicken into bite-sized pieces.
Toss the celery, carrot, basil, grapes and chopped chicken together with the dressing. Place some mixed greens in a bowl and add the chicken mixture. Top with the cashews and serve.
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