What can be more basic and simple than a chicken salad that can sometimes be replaced by turkey?
Use your poaching skills and make vegetable bed of goodness in your pan, to give a flavour and tenderness.
The second ritual you need to follow is to marinate the poached meat for a four hours, leaving it to soak up on all the diverse, sweet and sour ingredients that will slowly be infused.
If you love making up instant, last minute light meals like this one, it is wise to have a batch of chicken or turkey marinating in the fridge.
Marinated Chicken Salad with Lemon Raisins, Capers & Pine Nuts
4 chicken breasts or 2 turkey breasts
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
6 tablespoons white vinegar
⅔ cup golden raisins
2 lemons, zest
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 cup olive oil
¼ cup capers, drained
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh mint, finely chopped
6 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
1 round lettuce, whole, leaves separated
1. For the poached chicken: Place the chicken breasts in a deep sauce pan. Add enough water to cover by 2 to 3 cm. Remove the uncooked chicken breasts. Add the onion, carrots, bay leaves, salt, peppercorns and white vinegar to the water in the sauce pan, bring to a boil.
2. Carefully lower the chicken breasts into the boiling mixture; reduce the heat to a bare simmer. Poach the chicken breasts covered for half an hour. Remove from the heat and let cool in the liquid, uncovered, for 30 minutes.
3. Drain the chicken and discard solid bits of vegetables and spices. Let cool slightly. If cooked with bones and skin, remove and discard now. Note: The breasts may be poached 1 day ahead, deboned, skinned, cooled, covered and refrigerated.
4. For the marinade: Bring a small sauce pan with water to a boil. Remove from heat. Place the raisins in the boiling hot water, cover and soak for 5 minutes; drain the raisins well.
Meanwhile, using a vegetable peeler remove the zest from the lemons in long, thin strips. Halve the lemons and squeeze out 6 tablespoons of juice. In a small bowl whisk together the lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper, then add oil in a slow stream, whisking until well blended. Stir in zest, raisins, and capers.
5. Place the chicken in a shallow bowl — just large enough to hold it. Pour the marinade over the chicken. Marinade the chicken, covered and refrigerated, turning once, for at least 4 hours.
6. For the salad: Let the chicken stand in its marinade at room temperature for 20 minutes.
In the meanwhile, wash and dry the fresh lettuce leaves and lay them on a serving platter.
7. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board, reserving its marinade. Cut the chicken diagonally into 1 cm thick slices. Place the chicken over the fresh lettuce leaves already prepared on the serving platter.
8. Pour the marinade through a sieve into a bowl, set aside the liquid. Sprinkle the zest, raisins, and capers found in the sieve over the chicken.
9. Whisk parsley, mint, salt and pepper, to taste, into the marinade; then spoon over the chicken. Over the top sprinkle the pine nuts.