Caribbean Chicken Salad

     Some meals are memorable. Barry and I both recall the picnic supper that his cousin, Patty Potter Patrick, prepared when we visited Washington D.C. in July 1984. She made an incredible Caribbean chicken salad and picked up freshly baked croissants from a Georgetown bakery. After spreading out a blanket on the grassy area near the Iwo Jima Memorial, we opened a bottle of wine (she even packed real wine glasses) and proceeded to toast the great meal and the opportunity to visit the sites in our nation’s capital and in nearby Virginia.
     Patty nestled the chicken salad in half of a seeded papaya. We could not find that tropical fruit in Abilene so we served ours alongside slices of mango. Loved the results – the fruit (raisins and mango) were a very nice complement to the curried chicken. But cantaloupe would work, too. Or, just forget the fruit and serve the chicken salad on a lettuce leaf or as a sandwich filling.

Caribbean Chicken Salad  4 servings
30 min. to prepare + allow time for chilling
2 whole chicken breasts
¾ cup fresh peas, cooked or frozen peas, defrosted
½ cup fresh jicama, peeled & diced or sliced & diced water chestnuts from the can
½ cup celery, diced
¼ cup raisins
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 heaping teaspoon curry powder
3 grinds freshly ground pepper
2 fresh papayas (skin should be golden yellow & have a slight give when squeezed), or mangos or cantaloupe

1.     Boil 1 ½” of water in large pot with a steamer insert. Add chicken breasts to steamer; cover turn heat to low and steam 25 minutes. (Or cook using your preferred method; canned chicken could also be used.)
2.     While chicken steams, combine in a medium-size bowl: peas, jicama or water chestnuts, celery and raisins. Mix well.
3.     In a measuring cup combine: mayonnaise, vinegar, curry and pepper. Mix well. Note—dressing can be made before or after chicken in done.
4.     As soon as the chicken is cool enough to touch, remove meat from bones and cut or tear into bite-size pieces (1” strips or ½” cubes). Add to pea mixture; pour dressing on top and mix well. Cover and chill until ready to serve.
5.     If using papayas—cut unpeeled fruit in half lengthwise; with a spoon, remove seeds. Fill each papaya half with curried chicken salad and serve with spoons. (You may stuff the papayas with salad before chilling but the papayas have more flavor if they are served at room temperature.
If using mangocut in wedges and then run a spoon along the inside of the peel to remove the fruit ; serve alongside the chicken salad.
If using cantaloupe—peel and cut in wedges; serve alongside the chicken salad.

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