I had forgotten how good Jane West’s chicken salad was until I was treated once again to her justly famous salad recently while sitting on her dock on Harrington Sound in Bermuda with Jane and her husband, my cousin Stephen West. Wow! I think the secret to the salad’s superb flavor is the combination of dried apricots and sweet Vidalia onions (for which you could substitute other sweet varieties such as Walla Wallas, Maui onions, Texas Supersweets, or even Bermuda onions). Here it is, straight from Jane’s kitchen in beautiful Bermuda.
3 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1 cup mayonnaise (preferably Hellmann’s brand east of the Rockies or Best Foods brand in the west)
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
½ Vidalia onion, finely diced
4 stalks celery, diced
½ cup chopped Italian parsley
Juice of ½ lemon
1 (6-ounce) bag dried apricots, chopped
Freshly ground black pepper
Mixed greens or toasted sandwich bread, for serving
Poach the chicken breasts in a stockpot of lightly salted, gently simmering water until just done, about 10 minutes. (Or use Heather’s Butter Poached Chicken recipe, page 130.) Cool the chicken and cut it into bite-sized pieces measuring ½ to ¾ inch.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the chicken, mayonnaise, olive oil, onion, celery, parsley, lemon juice, and apricots. Stir in kosher salt, starting with ½ teaspoon and gradually adding more to taste as needed. Season to taste with freshly ground black pepper. Cover and refrigerate for 3 to 4 hours.
Serve the chicken salad on a bed of mixed greens or between two slices of toast for a sandwich.