Chicken Salad with Tarragon

It’s hot out. It’s over 90°. The heat just saps my energy and makes me want to laze around the house until nightfall. I was eating celery sticks all afternoon, thinking that this was a healthy lunch. It probably wasn’t.

Maybe for rabbits, but not for me!

So I decided to do something with the extra roasted chicken that I had in my fridge, and make chicken salad.

You could use store-bought mayonnaise, but I prefer to make my own. It’s really easy once you get the hang of it. I’ve whipped mayonnaise together with a fork, with a whisk, with a hand mixer, with a food processor, and with a blender.

I used a hand-held immersion blender this time. The most important thing is to make sure that your egg yolk is fresh, and it is at a cool-ish room temperature — not ice cold, and not too warm either. Be sure to add the oil very slowly in the beginning. Don’t worry if your sauce separates, or breaks. If this is the first time you are making it (or even if it’s the hundreth time) there are things you can do; you can easily save it multiple ways.

Properly made mayonnaise takes practice, but it’s not rocket science. I’m not Harold McGee, so I won’t expound on why the egg yolk emulsifies. However, I will say that when it does, it feels like magic.


1 cup of roasted chicken, chopped

1 stalk of celery, chopped

1 small shallot, minced

1 tablespoon fresh tarragon, finely chopped

1/2 cup of mayonnaise*

The juice of one lemon

Salt and pepper to taste

How to prepare:

1. Combine all the ingredients, except for the lemon juice, in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Add the lemon juice a little bit at a time until the chicken salad is loose enough to be spread out easily, but not so loose that it is watery.

2. Spoon the salad on top of toasted bread and enjoy.

For the mayonnaise:

2 teaspoons of freshly-squeezed lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon of sea salt

1/2 tablespoon of Dijon mustard

1 large egg yolk at room temperature

1/2 cup of grapeseed oil, or any neutral oil

How to prepare:

1. Whisk the lemon juice, salt, and Dijon mustard together in a medium-sized bowl.

2. Measure out the grapeseed oil into a cup with a pouring spout.

3. Whisk the egg yolk into the mustard mixture until it is well-incorporated and creamy. Continue whisking while you add a few drops of oil to the mixture. Whisk until completely incorporated before adding a few more drops. Try not to add too much oil, too quickly in the beginning, or the mixture will not emulsify. As the mixture begins to thicken, begin to add the rest of the oil in a thin and steady stream while whisking constantly.

If using a hand-blender, hand-mixer, or food processor, just start slowly adding the oil in the beginning, before adding the rest in a steady stream.

To help you visualize how mayonnaise comes together, here is a really good video clip.


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