Monday, June 30, 2008

Chicken Salad and the Pressure Cooker

Ok, this isn't about chicken salad cooked in a pressure cooker but a post about one of my favorite things (my pressure cooker) and a recipe for a yummy chicken salad.

Pressure cookers - I don't think they are something that are used in the mainstream kitchen in the United States. However, I grew up with my parents using one since in my Dad's native country they are pretty common place. Or at least those that came to the US use them a lot. So to me they aren't that strange a piece of kitchen equipment.

I don't use mine has often as I should, and when I do I think "now why don't I use this thing more often??". It's a super quick way to cook, it's healthy (you are cooking with pressure and steam - no oil) and it's economical since the cooking is quite fast and takes place on the stovetop. Also, the pots are very sturdy (mine has been in my kitchen since 1990) you just need to keep an eye on the rubber gasket which will wear out over time and need to be replaced.
For this chicken salad I throw the raw chicken into the PC, cook for 8 minutes, let it cool and that's it! You have moist, yummy chicken breast ready to go.
You can also make an entire meal in the PC in the same amount of cooking time (chicken in 8 minutes or less). Some other recipes included in my PC cookbook are Chicken Cacciatore, Cornish Hen (yes an entire Cornish Hen in in 8 minutes), Beef Stew, Spaghetti Meat Sauce, Pot Roast and Spare Ribs to name a few. You do need to add liquid to create the steam needed to cook the food; I like to use a cup of chicken broth for a little more flavor in the chicken breast for this salad.
This recipe is my interpretation of a chicken salad that a lady I work with makes. Her version is decadent and sinful, so I try and lighten it up just a bit. Hubby loves it, which should tell you something! Note - the amounts are all estimates since chicken salad is not a demanding/exacting type dish. So just use amounts that look good to you!
Noelle's Lighter Chicken Salad
1 large chicken breast (2 halves - appx 1 lb) cooked, shredded/cubed
3-4 ribs celery - chopped (preferably organic - celery is one of the veggies that absorbs pesticides and chemicals in the soil, but that's another post) or use some cucumber (seeds removed) if you don't like celery
3/4 c red grapes, halved
1/2 c light mayo
1/4 c non-fat plain yogurt
1/8 c bottled ranch dressing
A shake or two of white pepper
Mix the mayo, yogurt and ranch dressing until blended. Add white pepper to taste. Fold in chicken, grapes and celery. Allow to chill thoroughly and serve on crackers, a bed of greens or as a sandwich.

Also, I have used fat-free yogurt in salad dressings in other recipes - it's a great way to thin a heavy mayo dressing, add some tang and cut some fat. You can check out my recipe for Happy Apple Salad on Recipezaar - I did the same yogurt trick there too.

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