CHICKEN SALAD WITH STRING POTATOES
The Brazilian Kitchen
by Leticia Moreinos Schwartz
Salpicao de Frango
The best part of this salad is that it's an extraordinary dish from very ordinary kitchen ingredients: chicken, carrots, onions, potatoes, tomato sauce, and raisins. With the right treatment to each one of them, they become a chicken salad like you've never had before. You'll need a whole chicken for this recipe, but you can also adapt the recipe if you have leftover chicken. Try to resist cutting the chicken with a knife when you pull it. It's the textural juxtaposition of the hand-pulled chicken mixed with the carrots and crunchy potatoes that takes this dish to the next level. The thinner you pull the chicken, the better it will taste. Did I mention that you can make everything ahead of time? And the variations are endless—after Thanksgiving, try making it with turkey and cranberry.
Makes 6 to 8 servings
• 2 Idaho potatoes
• 1 quart vegetable or canola oil, for frying
• 1 (3 to 4 pound) roasted chicken
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 2 cups thinly sliced onion
• 3/4 cup dark raisins
• 2 tablespoons white wine
• 1/2 cup mayonnaise
• 3 tablespoons tomato sauce, preferably marinara
• kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
• 1/8 teaspoon paprika
• 2 cups coarsely grated carrots
• 2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
1. Cut the potatoes into a julienne cut, using a mandoline, or do it by hand. Place the potatoes in a bowl of cold water as you cut them, but change the water at least once, washing away any starch. Spread the potatoes onto a baking sheet lined with paper towels, and let them air-dry for 5 minutes.
2. Pour the oil into a large heavy-bottomed pot and heat to 350°F, as measured on a deep- fat thermometer. If you don't have a thermometer, dip one potato into the oil—when you hear a sizzling sound, the oil is ready. Fry the potatoes in batches until they are lightly golden brown. Transfer onto a plate lined with a double thickness of paper towels and immediately season with regular (not kosher) salt. Set aside. You can prepare the potatoes up to a day ahead; just be sure to keep them in an airtight plastic container at a dry room temperature.
3. To prepare the salad, pull the meat off all parts of the chicken by hand. (Discard the bones or use them for a chicken stock.) The thinner the meat, the better. You should have about 4 cups of pulled chicken. Set aside.
4. Place the olive oil in a large skillet and cook the onion over low heat, stirring occasionally, until they are soft and translucent, 10 to 15 minutes. (Resist the temptation to turn the heat to high, otherwise the onion will brown.) Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
5. In a small saucepan, over low heat, cook the raisins in the wine, just until soft, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer the raisins with any remaining wine to a plate to cool and set aside.
6. In a medium bowl, mix together the mayonnaise and tomato sauce. Season with the salt and pepper, cayenne, and paprika.
7. In a big bowl, mix together the pulled chicken, onion, raisins, carrots, mayonnaise sauce, tomato, and parsley. Taste to adjust the seasoning. You can store the salad in an airtight plastic container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days, but bring it to room temperature 20 to 30 minutes before serving.
8. Place the salad on a large platter and arrange the string potatoes on top. For a fancier presentation, use individual ring molds, and press the salad inside. Remove the ring and garnish with potatoes on top.
ROASTING A CHICKEN
To roast your own chicken, preheat the oven to 400°F. To truss a chicken, cut a 3-foot piece of twine. Position the chicken breast side up with the neck toward you. Center the twine underneath the tail and loop it around the tips of the drumsticks. Cross the ends of the twine above the chicken, pulling it tight to close the cavity. Pull the twine down so it embraces the breasts and wraps down around the wings. Pull it tight again and knot the twine. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and place it in a roasting pan. Roast in the oven until it's done (the breast should be cooked to about 155°F and the legs to about 165°F, both as measured by a meat thermometer, 40 to 45 minutes. Remove the chicken from the oven, cut the twine off, and wait until the chicken cools to room temperature before pulling the meat.