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Curry lends luxury to chicken salad

One roast chicken barely feeds my family of four, particularly on nights when my carnivorous older son is in top form.

So I couldn’t see my way around roasting two whole chickens for a family dinner including my sister. I imagined we’d have barely enough chicken left for a meal of tacos before simmering the bird’s remains for stock.

And then my kids exhibited the smallest appetites I’d seen in weeks. My sister took one meager slice of breast and a small strand of thigh. My partner and I tried to make a dent in so much meat but had to admit defeat after a whole thigh apiece and nearly half a breast. I had so much chicken left over, I was hard-pressed to find a Rubbermaid container for all of it.

Since when is too much cooked chicken a bad thing? Since we decided to spend most of the weekend away from home, then return to enough meat to constitute more meals than we could comfortably eat before the chicken had languished too long in the fridge.

So I made lunchtime chicken salad, a luxury for those few times per year — usually after Thanksgiving — when I’ve roasted an excess of poultry. Like food writer Daniel Neman, I prefer a light seasoning of curry in my chicken salad, along with toasted almonds and apples. I didn’t have grapes on hand, but they’re a classic component when available.

The curry here, as Neman says, is more of a hint than a blast. Consider these other sandwich-worthy versions from my blog archives that feature chicken with apple and fennel, the focus of a recent column, grilled chicken with curry and chicken with mango chutney.

Tribune News Service photo

Curried Chicken Salad

1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast or cooked, roasted or rotisserie chicken

Salt and pepper, to taste

1/2 cup sliced almonds

1/2 cup mayonnaise

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon curry powder

2 ribs celery, chopped fine

1 cup seedless red or green grapes, halved

1 cup 1/4-inch-diced apple pieces

4 scallions, trimmed and sliced thin

2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

If starting with uncooked chicken breast, put enough water in a frying pan to just cover the chicken and heat on high until it simmers. Add chicken and cook at a gentle simmer until done, for 10 to 15 minutes depending on the size of chicken breasts. Cut into thickest part of chicken to determine doneness.

Season with salt and pepper, and refrigerate until chilled, for about 30 minutes. If starting with cooked, roast chicken proceed with the recipe.

Meanwhile, toast the almonds in a skillet over medium heat until golden and fragrant, for about 4 minutes; set aside. Mix together the mayonnaise, lemon juice, mustard, curry powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; refrigerate until needed.

Cut chilled chicken into 1/4-inch pieces and toss with mayonnaise mixture, the celery, grapes, apple, scallions and parsley. If serving within 2 hours, stir in almonds now; otherwise stir in almonds just before serving.

May be prepared up to 1 day in advance and freshened with a spoonful of mayonnaise and a squeeze of lemon juice.

Makes 6 servings.

Recipe adapted by Tribune News Service from “The America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook.”