Chicken salad, the quintessential centerpiece of a southern luncheon. Picture: Rikki Snyder/The New York Times
There is everyday chicken salad, mixed very smooth with pickle relish, to eat on crackers or in a sandwich. 

And there is luncheon chicken salad, chunky and complicated with things like slivered almonds or minced pineapple or mango chutney or scallions.

This recipe is the best of both. Whether eaten with a fork or in a sandwich, when made with care and good ingredients, chicken salad has a delicious dignity.

The base for good chicken salad is, of course, good chicken. Many recipes suggest starting with a rotisserie chicken.

I suggest that a rotisserie chicken is a recipe for disaster. Unless perfectly cooked and freshly shredded, roast chicken is almost always too dry and stringy for salad. And in any case, dark meat has no place in the dish. A whole breast left over from a really nicely roasted chicken is fine.

What lifts chicken salad up is the pure, clean texture of breast meat — one of the very few really good uses for this almost entirely flavourless cut.

Here's a video showing you how to make this chicken salad:

The New York Times