Why Not Canned Chicken?

Before my oldest daughter went back to college, all my children were complaining about the “same old same old” sandwiches. “Why can’t we have chicken salad?” one asked, adding, “I’m tired of tuna salad.”

“Because,” I answered logically, “I need to roast or boil a whole chicken, skin, bone and cool it to make chicken salad.”

“But,” added she-who-shall-remain-anonymous, “Do you have to cook the whole tuna fish, skin, bone and cool it?”

“No I replied. It comes in a can.”

“So does chicken,” countered the child of mine who should be majoring in debate.

That got me thinking: why not canned chicken? It is a great convenience, several brands are gluten free. Canned chicken is not expensive, and, combined with ready-to-use chopped onions, celery and carrots, and gluten-free mayo, I would have the makings for instant chicken salad. So would my kids, including my college-age daughter.

Aldi’s grocery store carries Brookdale brand, which is labeled gluten free; its sibling grocer Trader Joe’s carries its own brand. While not labeled gluten free the ingredients clearly are. And many grocery stores carry both fresh and frozen finely chopped onions, carrots and celery. I’m partial to Trader Joe’s Mirepoix, i.e. chopped fresh celery, onions and carrots. It comes in a 14.5-ounce container and has many uses. If I have more than I need I usually freeze the unused portion.

Speaking of Trader Joe’s, I just learned they have a list of all their gluten-free products available on request; just ask, they will print one for you.

Back to the chicken-salad sandwich: the recipe makes enough for four large double-faced sandwiches or four heaping chicken melts. And it goes together in, literally, minutes. My family likes the flavor of dried thyme. It enhances the flavor, especially after the salad has been refrigerated for a couple hours. If your kids, or other finicky family members, object to “bits” in their chicken salad, just whiz the diced onion, celery and carrots in the food processor for a few second. The bits will become invisible in the salad.

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Chicken Salad Lickety-Split

Yield: 2 cups

Ingredients

  • 1 (12.5-ounce) can chicken breast meat, drained
  • 6 rounded tablespoons ready-to-use diced onion, celery and carrots
  • 6 level tablespoons gluten free mayonnaise
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon dried thyme, optional
  • Sliced tomatoes, as needed, optional
  • 4 slices of American cheese or nondairy alternative, for chicken melts

Instructions

  1. Transfer the chicken to a medium bowl and break up the pieces with a fork into flakes. Add the onion, celery and carrots, mayonnaise, salt and thyme if using.
  2. Mix well. Use right away or cover and refrigerate for up to two days.
  3. Spread ½ cup on one slice of plain or toasted White Sandwich Bread or purchased gluten-free white bread. Add sliced tomatoes if using. Top with second slice of bread.

Notes

For chicken melts, toast one-half of a Hamburger Bun (recipe in Cooking for Your Gluten-Free Teen), or purchased gluten-free bun. Top with ½ cup of chicken salad. Add 1 slice of cheese and broil or bake until cheese melts. Serve with knife and fork. Serve both sandwiches with Cole slaw and chips.

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