This unusual dish is adapted from a traditional Turkish recipe and is absolutely delicious. Both the chicken and the walnut sauce are served at room temperature so I’m calling it a salad, mainly because I like to serve it over baby mâche lettuce. You can use whatever leafy greens you like.
It’s also very simple to make because I roast my chicken in a slow cooker, doused with a good amount of white wine. This yields a delicious stock without having to boil up the carcass if you roast it in the conventional way. I also like the minimum cleanup associated with using a slow cooker and best of all, time-wise it frees me up to do other things.
I recommend cooking the chicken the day before so that everything is well chilled.
CHICKEN SALAD WITH A WALNUT SAUCE
A 3.5-4lb (1.5-18kg) chicken, preferably organic and free range
1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
1 large stick of celery, trimmed and chopped
1 medium onion, peeled and quartered
1 bay leaf
a few sprigs of fresh oregano
a large glass of wine and about as much again of water
Sea salt, freshly ground black pepper
For the sauce:
3/4 pint ( 425ml) of chicken stock (from cooking the chicken – make up any shortfall with water)
4oz (110g) of walnuts
2oz (50g) of fresh white breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons of walnut oil (or extra-v olive oil) and 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika, mixed together
Enough salad leaves for six.
Put the carrot, celery, onion, oregano and bay leaf in the bottom of a slow cooker and sit the chicken on top. Pour the water over the chicken followed by a large glass of white wine, then season with sea salt and black pepper. Cover and cook on the high setting for approx 4 hrs.
After 4 hours, test the chicken by piercing the thigh at the thickest part. If the juices run clear it’s done. Carefully remove the chicken (it may fall apart so collect those stray bits as well) and transfer it to a bowl. Set it aside, cover and chill in the fridge.
Strain the crock pot stock discarding the veg (or maybe give the carrots to your pet). Cover, cool and chill, preferably overnight.
For the sauce (I recommend making this ahead as you want it to cool to room temp), you’ll use 3/4 pint (425ml) of the strained stock which will have jellified during the overnight cooling process. First scrape off any fat from the surface and discard it (or feed it to your pet), then gently heat the stock.
Now put the walnuts and breadcrumbs in a food processor and blitz until you have no remaining nut chunks. Add this to the stock and bring it all to a simmer. Cook for about 5 minutes until you have a nicely thickened sauce. Season with sea salt and black pepper then set it aside to cool.
When you’re ready to assemble the salad, shred the chicken discarding the skin and bones (or use them to make stock for something else).
Divide the salad leaves between 6 plates and arrange the shredded chicken on top. Spoon the walnut sauce over and finish it with a drizzle of paprika oil.