In this recipe, adapted from “Soul Food,” Joyce White credits the salad to the late Mabe James who used to prepare it as a luncheon main course for members of the Philathea Club from Providence Baptist Church in Greensboro, North Carolina.
“Years ago, chicken salad was elevated to a high-art creation at Black church meetings, sorority and social club luncheons and fashion shows…Various ingredients were mixed with the chicken, including pickles, capers, olives, walnuts, pecans or slivers of baked him,” White writes.
The Ladies’ Chicken Salad
1 chicken, about 3 to 3 1/2 pounds, cut into serving pieces
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, cut into slices
1/2 teaspoon each: salt, freshly ground pepper
2 each, finely chopped: celery ribs, hard-cooked eggs
1/2 cup each: pickle relish, mayonnaise
1 tablespoon spicy brown mustard
Cover the chicken with water in a Dutch oven or large pot. Add the water, garlic, onion, salt and pepper. Heat to a boil over medium-high heat. Cover. Lower heat to a simmer. Cook, turning occasionally, until fork-tender and the juices run clear, about 30 to 40 minutes. Drain the broth; reserve for later use. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board to cool. Discard the onions.
Remove the chicken skin and bones; discard. Cut the chicken into 2-inch strips; place in a large bowl. Add the celery, eggs and relish; set aside.
Stir together the mayonnaise and mustard in a small bowl, whisking until well blended. Pour over the chicken mixture, stirring to mix well. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least 1 hour. Serve over lettuce leaves on a large platter. Makes 6 servings.