This is one of my favorite picnic dishes. The interplay of rich, smoky chicken with sweet & crunchy apples & celery is irresistible. If you don’t have a water smoker, think about getting one. It’s really easy to set up and great if you love smoked meats & seafood. The idea is that it smokes the meat slowly, allowing a lot of smoke flavor to permeate the meat, and the water keeps everything from drying out.
Smoked Chicken Salad
makes about 4 quarts
1/2 cup kosher salt
1/4 cup sugar
2-1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 cups toasted pecan halves
1 fennel bulb, cored & sliced 1/2 inch
4 ribs celery, sliced 1/2 inch
2 Granny Smith apples, cored & chopped 1 inch
1 cup raisins
juice of 1 lemon
3/4 cup mayonnaise
Dissolve sugar & salt in 1 quart water. Combine with chicken in 1-gallon zip-lock back and brine for 1 hour. Remove chicken from brine, rinse well, dry, and coat with olive oil. Smoke in low-temperature water smoker for 1 hour. Allow to cool, chill for an hour, then chop into bites.
In large bowl, toss chicken with all ingredients except mayonnaise. Add mayonnaise and toss again. Serve immediately, or chill & serve within a day or two.