Southern-style salad just right for the gang

August 25, 1999|By Newsday

This recipe to feed a crowd, from "Dinner at Miss Lady's: Memories and Recipes From a Southern Childhood" by Luann Landon (Algonquin Books, $19.95), uses egg yolks with wild abandon. It is useful to know how to make a boiled dressing as well as a homemade mayonnaise; they make a simple dish like chicken salad company-worthy.

Homemade Mayonnaise

Makes 2 cups

4 egg yolks

2 cups light olive oil, peanut oil or canola oil

salt and pepper to taste

2 tablespoons (or more, to taste) white-wine vinegar

Using an electric mixer and small bowl, beat egg yolks on low speed for 2 minutes.

Add light olive oil, peanut oil or canola oil by droplets, beating all the time.

Season to taste with salt, pepper and white-wine vinegar.

Cousin Mildred's Chicken Salad

Serves 15

COOKED DRESSING:

9 egg yolks

6 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon cornstarch

3 teaspoons salt

3 teaspoons dry mustard

1 teaspoon celery seed

1/2 teaspoon white pepper

1 cup milk

5 tablespoons butter

1 cup white-wine vinegar

SALAD:

6 whole chicken breasts, poached in broth, skinned, boned, chopped

3 celery hearts, finely chopped

4 hard-cooked eggs, chopped

1 cup peeled, slivered almonds or chopped salted pecans

1 cup mayonnaise, preferably homemade (see recipe)

To make dressing: In a large bowl, beat egg yolks well.

In a medium bowl, mix sugar, cornstarch, salt, dry mustard, celery seed and white pepper. Beat into yolks, then add milk slowly, using an electric mixer.

Transfer mixture to double-boiler and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, adding butter in small bits until mixture is thick and measures 160 degrees Fahrenheit on a candy thermometer. (Use a candy thermometer to measure.) Take dressing off heat.

In a small saucepan, heat vinegar very slowly over low heat; when warm, add vinegar a little at a time to dressing, stirring to blend.

Put cold water in bottom of double-boiler.

Cook dressing again slowly in top of double-boiler over medium heat, stirring occasionally until it thickens (120 degrees on a candy thermometer).

Allow it to cool before mixing with chicken and other ingredients.

Mix chicken, celery, hard-cooked eggs and nuts. Add cooked dressing and let stand, covered, in refrigerator overnight.

When ready to serve, add 1 cup mayonnaise.

Serve chilled in a glass bowl or on a large platter garnished with lettuce leaves and parsley or fresh tarragon.

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