This is a creation of ours from many years ago. We used to make it with any kind of leftover chicken we had in the fridge. One night we had some leftover smoked chicken from the weekend, so we used that. Wow! We have never gone back. Smoking the chicken is really the only way to make this right. You can try baked, broiled, boiled, fried, whatever you have, but once you try smoked you’ll be hooked. The crunchy-fried herbs and fruit cocktail are also killer, so don’t be tempted to leave them out! This makes a nice, refreshing summer main-dish salad, and can be made up to a day ahead of time for company. Perfect for lunch, brunch, or a light dinner - goes great with a nice side of Italian bread. Serves about 6.
|Smoked Chicken Pasta Salad|
2 lbs. chicken thighs
½ cup Mojo marinade
8 oz. package of elbow macaroni
2 tbl. olive oil
2 sprigs of fresh Italian Parsley (whole leaves, removed from stems)
1 tbl. fresh Oregano leaves (whole)
1 tbl. fresh Sage (whole)
10 fresh Basil leaves (whole)
1 cup onions, chopped
8 ½ oz. can of Leseur peas, strained & chilled
1 large (30 oz.) can of Fruit Cocktail (in heavy syrup), strained & chilled
4 hard boiled eggs, cooled, then coarsely chopped
ground black pepper
sea salt (we only use sea salt . . . it’s just better and better for you)
1 ¼ cup Mayonnaise
· Pour Mojo over the chicken in a bowl and mix until totally covered
· Liberally sprinkle both sides of chicken with black pepper
· Boil the elbow macaroni until done, drain, and refrigerate in a large bowl until chilled
· Cook the chicken on a smoker grill until done (about 45 minutes), then remove and let cool (do not use BBQ sauce! You just want smoked chicken. When almost done move the chicken a little more over the coals to crisp the skin a bit, basting occasionally with Mojo.
· When chicken is done remove from grill and let sit at room temperature until cooled
· Remove skin from chicken and coarsely chop the skin (should be crispy) and set aside
· Remove chicken meat from bones and shred with two forks and set aside
· In a skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the basil leaves (whole) and fry until crisp, remove to paper towels. Then add the parsley, oregano and sage. (whole) and fry until crisp. Don’t burn them, and be careful! – sometimes they spit water if you recently washed them. You might need to do these in several batches so they don’t clump together, and turn them several times while frying. Remove to a paper towel to drain and cool, crumble and reserve the oil for later use.
· In the bowl containing the chilled pasta, add the onions, Leseur peas, fruit cocktail, hard boiled eggs, shredded chicken, crumbled fried herbs, and salt & black pepper to taste
· Mix everything together well, and add about 1 tbl. of the reserved olive oil from frying the herbs
· Add the mayonnaise and mix again thoroughly
· Refrigerate and chill for at least one hour before serving
Wednesday night (while we were making this recipe) must have been Richard Wagner’s birthday. The Satellite Radio classical stations were all playing Wagner music (not my favorite, but we were sports about it.) We landed on the Opera channel – they were playing the entire “Ring” series all night. We drank several toasts to the old geezer (an especially big toast when “Ride of the Valkyries” came on, and ate dinner in his honor (after midnight.) Happy Birthday, Wagner. Next year we’ll know to buy extra wine on May 22nd.