Monday, December 13, 2010

Curry chicken pasta salad

From this week: chicken, mayo, sour cream, lemons, celery, grapes

From weeks past: lemons, sour cream

Staples: honey, curry powder, salt, rotini

I deflowered my kitchen this weekend.

Inappropriate? Sorry, but it's true. I cooked meat for the first time in my beautiful, pristine kitchen. Sigh. I feel guilty for bending my rules and stealing my kitchen's virtue, but it was a special occasion: my first official office holiday potluck lunch!

Not impressed? Okay, so it wasn't that special of an occasion, but these days it's rare that I get to cook for others, and I wanted to kill it. And kill it I did. This pasta salad has been my mom's potluck dish of choice for years, and it's a holiday party stunner. Better if made ahead, good cold and at room temperature, pleasing to spicy lovers and losers - er, I mean mild lovers - alike, it was made for potlucks; literally, it seems, since my mom told me today that she got the recipe at my 28-year-old sister's preschool potluck/auction.

It's easy enough to take the chicken out of this. In fact, I split the recipe in half, made half without chicken, and kept it to feed myself for the week. But being the altruist that I am, I thought I'd embrace the holiday season and include the chicken to please my coworkers.

And man, did I get a lot of compliments. Potluck WINNER!

Wait, did I say that? I meant 'tis better to give than to receive.

Ames's curry chicken pasta salad
Makes 12 HUGE servings (seriously, you probably want to make half of this for any normal sized group)

3 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts (or 7 cups cooked chicken)
1 lb rotini
2 cups mayonnaise
1 cup sour cream
3/4 cup fresh lemon juice (approximately 3 juicy lemons)
3 tbsp curry powder
4 tbsp honey
2.5 cups thinly sliced celery
2.5 cups seedless red grapes, quartered
1 tsp salt, plus more to taste

Make dressing: mix together mayo, sour cream, lemon juice, curry powder, and honey. This can be made well ahead of time and refrigerated

Poach chicken (if uncooked): cover chicken and 1 tsp salt with cool water. Place over medium low heat and bring to a simmer. Simmer until cooked through, about 30 minutes (depends on the size of your chicken pieces - cut down the middle of each piece to see if it's cooked). Cool and dice into bite-sized pieces.

Cook rotini according to package directions. Combine 1/2 of the curry mayo with pasta while warm. Combine remaining 1/2 curry mayo with the chicken and celery. In a large bowl, combine pasta, chicken, and grapes. Salt to taste. Cover tightly and refrigerate. Best if made and refrigerated for at least 6 hours or overnight.

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