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Chicken Tarragon Waldorf Salad With Homemade Mayonnaise

Updated on September 13, 2017
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Exploring food facts, folklore, and fabulous recipes... one ingredient at a time.

Once Upon a Time...

there was a man named Oscar. He made a salad with celery, apples, and lettuce. And they lived happily ever after.

The End.

No, I’m joking. Here’s the real story. Oscar Tschirky was the maître d’hôtel at the Waldorf Hotel (later to become the Waldorf-Astoria) in New York City. He made several signature dishes during his career, many of which appeared in the 1896 cookbook “Oscar of the Waldorf”. But the creation we still talk about (and enjoy) is the Waldorf Salad. The original didn’t contain walnuts, but when “Rector Cook Book” was published in 1928, walnuts were added to the list of ingredients. Waldorf Salad became immensely popular; Cole Porter even mentioned it in his 1934 song “You’re the Top”.

Today there are countless versions of the Waldorf Salad. Many add chicken or turkey, grapes, or dried fruits. A few cooks choose yogurt in place of mayonnaise.

I have my own favorite twist on the original—Chinese cabbage replaces the original leaf lettuce and plain mayonnaise is upgraded to a homemade lemon mayonnaise. (Yes, I’m going to help you make real mayonnaise in your own kitchen!).

Cook Time

Prep time: 40 min
Ready in: 40 min
Yields: 4-6 servings--prep. time includes 30 min. to chill
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leftovers from rotisserie chicken are perfect for this dishuse the tender heart (inner portion) of the celerydried cranberries are sweet and packed with nutrientstarragon provides a licorice flavorwalnuts add crunch Chinese (napa) cabbage is sturdier than lettuce but doesn't have the sharp taste of head cabbage
leftovers from rotisserie chicken are perfect for this dish
leftovers from rotisserie chicken are perfect for this dish
use the tender heart (inner portion) of the celery
use the tender heart (inner portion) of the celery
dried cranberries are sweet and packed with nutrients
dried cranberries are sweet and packed with nutrients
tarragon provides a licorice flavor
tarragon provides a licorice flavor
walnuts add crunch
walnuts add crunch
Chinese (napa) cabbage is sturdier than lettuce but doesn't have the sharp taste of head cabbage
Chinese (napa) cabbage is sturdier than lettuce but doesn't have the sharp taste of head cabbage

Ingredients

  • 3 cups cooked chicken breast, diced
  • 1 cup celery heart (the tender inner portion), diced
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 4 tsp. fresh tarragon, finely minced
  • 3/4 cup walnuts, finely chopped
  • 1 cup homemade lemon mayonnaise, (see recipe below)
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 2 cups Chinese cabbage, finely chopped
  1. Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Cover and chill at least 30 minutes.
  2. Serve on chilled plates.

Homemade Lemon Mayonnaise

  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp. fresh lemon zest
  1. Place the egg yolks, salt, and lemon juice in the bowl of a blender.
  2. Process until the egg yolk and juice are well-combined and the yolks begin to turn to a lighter shade of yellow.
  3. Remove the fill cap (central portion of the lid).
  4. Place the olive oil in a glass measuring cup with a lip suitable for pouring.
  5. With the blender running, begin adding the oil to the yolk/lemon juice mixture. Start with just one drop at a time and increase to a steady but very slow stream as the oil is absorbed.
  6. Stir in lemon zest

What is an emulsion?

In cooking, an emulsion is a mixture of two liquids that would ordinarily not mix together, like oil and vinegar. The droplets of one of the liquids become evenly dispersed within the other liquid. The resulting liquid is thicker than the two original liquids were. In the case of mayonnaise or aioli, oil droplets are suspended within the egg yolks.

© 2014 Linda Lum

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