Food You Can Eat: My Father’s Chicken Salad

No, I did not grow that spring mix or those tomatoes.

First things first:  At one point on this site, there was something of a discussion about whether or not grapes belong in chicken salad.  I happen to land on the side that grapes—generally speaking—do not belong in chicken salad.  For that matter, I also think that raw onions have zero business in chicken salad.  That being said, there is only one recipe—this recipe—in which grapes do, in fact, belong on chicken salad.  This recipe was developed by my father who was a chef for about 25 years.  My father was a terrible human being, but he was an excellent chef.  Even after he walked away from the business, he never stopped experimenting with flavor profiles and new dishes at home.  He called me up one day to give me this recipe and when I said there was no fucking way I was trying this recipe, he said I should trust him.  He was a wholly untrustworthy person when it came to pretty much everything, but he never steered me wrong with food.  So, I tried it and was amazed.

A caveat before we get started:  It’s not just the ingredients themselves which are the key here, but the actual proportion of the flavors involved.  For those of us who despise grapes in chicken salad, I strongly suggest that you follow these measurements to the letter.  Don’t get cute because it’ll fuck the whole thing up.

Here’s what you’ll need:

4-5 Chicken Breasts, grilled, chilled and diced

1 Fuji Apple, diced

2 Cups Red Seedless Grapes, halved

¼ Cup Onion, diced.

¾ Cup Celery Stalks, sliced crosswise

Mayo to taste

Mix all these ingredients together and put in the refrigerator to chill.

I know it looks terrible. It tastes incredible.

Serve on a bed of spring mix with cherry or grape tomatoes, coated with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

I’m telling you, this is awesome.  Don’t send me any other recipes with grapes in chicken salad because those other recipes are bullshit.

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When you can walk its length, and leave no trace, you will have learned.


  1. I will not send you a competing chicken-salad-with-grapes recipe because I don’t have one. But ever since that discussion during Dueling Chickens Week I’ve been thinking, “Why wouldn’t you pair grapes with chicken? You (I, One) can make 100 different meat sauces with wine, why not get rid of the middleman and just add grapes?”

    Turns out that chicken and grapes is not unknown and shows up in recipes from Morocco. Fun fact: the Romans had lots of grapes, but though they had chickens the chickens had this strange, sacred place in the culture. It was believed they delivered augurs, meaning they could tell the future and foretell whether something like a battle would go well or whether drought might strike the land. 

    Alison Roman, yes that Alison Roman, recipe developer, food writer,  and injudicious twitterer who got booted from her perch at the “New York Times” for going after Chrissy Teigen and Marie Kondo, of all people, developed a very popular recipe for braised chicken and grapes. It is one of her most popular and she has a slew of recipes. You braise the chicken and then alongside it put grapes and shallots. I haven’t made this yet but I will. I’m also going to give this chicken salad recipe a try.

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