Fort Mill Times

Cooking with Joy - June 10, 2009

Joy Smith of Fort Mill, an English teacher until she became a mother, refined her culinary skills as a homemaker. She has a fully stuffed collection of recipes to share.
Joy Smith of Fort Mill, an English teacher until she became a mother, refined her culinary skills as a homemaker. She has a fully stuffed collection of recipes to share.

If you want a fancy chicken salad to impress your guests, you'll just love this recipe. It looks beautiful and tastes even better. What more could you ask for in a main dish summer salad?

I was first served this salad at the home of one of my tennis friends in New York, Delores Viebrock. Delores invited our tennis group for lunch after the season ended. We had heard her talk about her garden for years, but had never actually seen it. When we arrived at Delores's house that day, we were awed by what we saw. Delores not only had a love of gar-dening, but a passion for it.

Her backyard was spectacular. She had created a virtual page out of "Better Homes and Gardens" using flowering trees, shrubs, perennials and annuals. There was a swimming pool that fit into the landscape in such a way that you'd swear it was a natural pond.

We relaxed on her patio, swam in her pool, and soaked up the beauty and serenity of her garden. Then came lunch. Sitting outside at a table beautifully decorated with crisp linens and fresh flowers, Delores served us a picture-perfect chicken salad that was fabulous. It was quite obvious that not only was Delores a master gardener, she was also an excellent cook with a flair for entertaining.

I remember that afternoon so well. We left her house full, happy, content, and renewed. I also left there with her chicken salad recipe! I've made good use of this recipe over the years, and it's always a big hit. The great thing about this dish is that you can make the sauce, cut the vegetables, and cook the chicken ahead of time. Just assemble it right before serving. Set a pretty table, add fresh flowers, and treat your guests to this delightful chicken salad.

Sit back and enjoy the compliments!

*Spicy peanut sauce

Delores's Hacked Chicken Salad6 boneless skinless chicken breasts

3 tablespoons Asian sesame oil

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

3/4 cup spicy peanut sauce*

2 ribs celery, cut into two-inch match stick strips

1/2 English cucumber, peeled and cut into two-inch match stick strips

4 scallions, cut into two-inch match stick strips

Preheat the broiler.

Brush the chicken breasts with sesame oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place on baking sheet lined with tin foil and broil chicken (three-four inches from heat) for about four minutes per side. Let cool.

Cut the chicken into bite sized pieces and place in large bowl. Toss with spicy peanut sauce. Serve on a bed of mesculin lettuce surrounded by grapes, cherry tomatoes, sliced radishes, and mandarin orange slices. Top with strips of celery, cucumbers and scallions.

Serves six.

This can be made days in advance and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature before using.

1/4 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup rice vinegar

6 tablespoons cold water

1 tablespoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon minced garlic

2 teaspoons minced, peeled ginger

6 tablespoons smooth peanut butter

3 tablespoons peanut oil

3 tablespoons Asian sesame oil

1/2 teaspoon chili oil

Place first seven ingredients in blender and process on high speed until smooth. Add peanut butter and blend for one minute. Combine the oils and add to sauce gradually while blending at low speed.