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Nooooo…not Mrs. Grissom!

I found this cruising my hometown (Nashville) paper — notable deaths 2013 — Grace Grissom, co-founder of Mrs. Grissom’s Salads, died in May, age 94.

I had no idea this was a local product. I had no idea Mrs Grissom was a real person. Mrs Grissom’s chicken salad was a total staple of my childhood. I have not had anything that came close to it outside Tennessee.

Not sure how to describe it. It was like chicken meat pâté, but looser. More like liquid chicken. Chicken paste. Chicken shakes. Okay, maybe not that loose, but it tended to squish out the sides when you took a bite, and a tub of it was less than a buck, so there can’t have been much chicken in it.

Still back in old Nashville, my friend’s granddad made an awesome chicken salad. It had much more chicken in it, but it was still all ground up into a stiff paste (with mayo and celery, I think the recipe went). Stiffer than Mrs Grissom’s, but the same idea.

Then I moved to New England, where chicken salad was diced chunks of chicken with various food lubricants. And then I moved to old England, where a sandwich salad doesn’t mean the same thing at all. Chicken salad and tuna salad are, respectively, chicken or tuna with a salad (i.e. with lettuce on it). On the other hand, they sell a variety of tinned meat pastes which is much more like what I’m talking.

Anyway — lay it on me. What’s your regional notion of chicken salad?


Comment from Oceania
Time: January 15, 2014, 12:12 am

More serious issues than this are afoot.

Some of the meek here need to take a stand.


Comment from S. Weasel
Time: January 15, 2014, 1:09 am

More serious than chicken salad? GET. OUT.

Comment from Anonymous
Time: January 15, 2014, 1:10 am

Here it’s chicken wig may and assorted veggies, which is a great way to ruin chicken, if you ask me.

Comment from J.S.Bridges
Time: January 15, 2014, 1:12 am

Meanwhile, on-topic: Hereabouts (most-if-not-all of NC, and certain parts of SC and GA), we’re somewhere in-between the Paste/Pate’ version and the With-A-Salad-On-The-Side dealie – commercially, at least – with prepackaged chicken/tuna/ham/turkey concoctions having various propertions of actual discrete (sometimes more “discreet” than “discrete”, IYKWIM) meat/fish content detectible, along with lesser amounts of various veggie items (also reduced to small-to-smaller-to-wee-bitty separate parts), consolidated into a forkable/spoonable mixture with such additives as mayo, oil, spices, etc. Sometimes tasty, sometimes…perhaps marginal, IYKWIM – though, in general, edible, and perhaps even quite nutritious.

Home-built, though, is the way to go: Cut ‘er up in large-grape-sized chunks, whack up a load of celery and spinach greens and a few homemade pickles, plus a red and a yellow pepper strip or two for some nice bits of color, hit it with the heavy-duty fresh mayo, stir well and chill to suit… goes great on good rye or some nice, fresh-cut sourdough, maybe with a wee touch of deli or yellow mustard.

Some folks have similar involvements with various beans, ‘taters and eggs, as well – even been known to have some cut-up beefsteak, shellfish or bacon involved…

(Dang! Dinner-time already, innit? Gotta go…)

Comment from Nina
Time: January 15, 2014, 1:13 am

What happened to that? Chicken WITH MAYO, and ’tis I.

I give up.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: January 15, 2014, 1:16 am

Oh, also the pimiento cheese. Why have I not seen pimiento cheese in 35 years?

Mmmmmmm…pimiento cheese spread…

Comment from Oceania
Time: January 15, 2014, 1:20 am

Never eat American chicken.
Hormones and chemicals are turning Americans gay.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: January 15, 2014, 1:31 am

I’m sorry…is it wrong that Oceania makes me laugh? I know he’s driven off some of my readership, but he cracks me up.

Comment from Armybrat
Time: January 15, 2014, 1:42 am

Chicken salad when I was growing up was the leftover bits picked from the chicken that was last nights dinner, Dijon mustard, a smidgen of mayo, shredded hard boiled egg, celery diced VERY FINE, same with a bit of red onion. I still like it that way….and with a dash of sirrache sauce just because.

Comment from Nicole
Time: January 15, 2014, 1:47 am

Pretty much like Armybrat – pieces of leftover bits, mayo, mustard (yellow though), hard boiled egg and finely diced celery. No onion, though, and Mom liked to add finely diced sweet pickles. When I make it myself now I use non-leftover (usually) rotisserie chicken chopped medium, medium chopped celery, mayo, yellow mustard, rosemary, pecans, and sometimes water chestnuts for more crunch. I usually use my hard boiled eggs for egg salad. 🙂

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: January 15, 2014, 1:50 am

I’m having chicken salad tonight, in case anyone wonders.

Leftover roast chicken, mayo, mustard powder, celery salt. Blended with a stick mixer. On a bagel with lettuce.

Comment from Stark Dickflüssig
Time: January 15, 2014, 1:52 am

Chicken salad is what vegetarian chickens order at the steak bar.

Comment from Some Vegetable
Time: January 15, 2014, 2:43 am

Here Chicken Salad is indistinguishable from Potato Salad until you bite through the mayo far enough to distinguish the texture of the chicken chunks from potato chunks. You will never guess correctly from the appearance or the taste. Pimento Cheese?… Ha! That make remember Olive Loaf which is made with meat no good enough to use for Baloney with its flavor disguised by studding it with pimento filled olives. Fortunately the Chemical Weapons Ban stopped sales of it.

Comment from Paula Douglas
Time: January 15, 2014, 3:17 am

Diced chicken with equal parts mayo and sour cream, shitloads of dill weed, quartered red seedless grapes, and a teensy bit of minced cucumber. Oh, and feta cheese.

Comment from Pupster
Time: January 15, 2014, 3:42 am

Leftover chicken, sometimes fried chicken in small bits, chopped boiled egg, miracle whip, little bit of onion and garlic salt and black pepper. I started adding chopped almonds to mine, and eating it on toast with ‘merican cheese. I also grew up eating Underwoods deviled ham and chicken from the can, it sounds like the stuff you are talking about.


Comment from Stark Dickflüssig
Time: January 15, 2014, 4:31 am

Chick’n Paste®!

Made from genuine chickens*!

*Brian Setzer & such.

Comment from Deborah
Time: January 15, 2014, 4:41 am

Husband’s signature “dish” is chicken salad. Gently poached chicken breasts, cooled and diced 1/2″. Red or green grapes, or both—chopped. Diced celery. Diced apple. Walnuts, coarsely broken. Equal amounts of sour cream and mayonnaise until you are satisfied with the mixture. Fresh ground black pepper.

Pimento cheese—that glorious staple of the South. You moved too far North, Stoaty, and it fell off the radar. I can’t stand the grocery store stuff so I make my own. Equal amounts of cream cheese and sharp cheddar, coarsely grated. A lot of pimento—drain the pimento water into a bowl and save it. Dice the pimentos until very fine—even pimentos that are already diced. Stir the pimentos and water into the cream cheese. Add 1 clove of well-mashed garlic, fresh ground pepper, several dashes of Tabasco, and the cheddar. Add mayonnaise until you have happy with the mixture. Best eaten the next day. (Now I have to go make pimento cheese.)

Underwood’s Deviled Ham. oofh. Even when I was a kid, it gave me indigestion. But my Dad loved the stuff.

Comment from francis
Time: January 15, 2014, 5:15 am

We have chicken salad here in Pittsburgh, which is pretty much what folks are describing, but the real local specialty is ham salad. Same basic plan – mayo, mustard, meat; but it’s finely ground ham, preferably Islay’s (as their slogan says, it’s hammier!).

Feta cheese? I don’t think I even heard of Feta cheese until I was in my twenties.

Comment from Mojo
Time: January 15, 2014, 7:56 am

Chicken, mayo, onion and maybe some celery, if it’s not wilted.

Comment from Mojo
Time: January 15, 2014, 8:00 am

Oceania: Hormones and chemicals are turning Americans gay

Even the women? (I thought they already were…)*

* Fat Freddy’s Cat, 1971

Comment from thefritz
Time: January 15, 2014, 11:26 am

I was waiting to see if this thread would spark a ‘mayo’ vs ‘Miracle Whip’ war. It seems everyone except Pupster like mayonnaise.

Mrs. Fritz and our spawn are Whip junkies…NOTHING can be used in any dish that calls for a white, binding spread except that product. I, being raised in the mid-west, never tasted the stuff until college in Houston.

It took a while but I have come to enjoy the zip the Whip adds to egg, tuna and chicken salads. I will say Miracle Whip makes my egg boats (deviled eggs) a delightful treat.
So I guess I go both ways in the salad spread selection.

Comment from Deborah
Time: January 15, 2014, 12:23 pm

LOL thefritz! I still remember the look of shock on my newly acquired step-sisters’ faces when they discovered that their father’s new wife believed mayonnaise was really mayonnaise, not Miracle Whip. It was the worst moment, ever. They very quickly learned to call Miracle Whip—Miracle Whip. After 45 years we can almost laugh about it.

Because of the Miracle Whip Wars, I learned to like the stuff, and keep a small jar on hand on hand for my new sisters and daughter-in-law, who sparked her own skirmish when she married my son.

I use Miracle Whip in ham salad, but that’s all. Husband would like for me to make homemade mayonnaise, and I have Julia Child’s recipe and exquisite instructions, but how could I beat Duke’s mayonnaise?

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: January 15, 2014, 1:21 pm

I grew up on Miracle Whip. And margarine.

I went to college before I experienced real mayonnaise and real butter. I had a Scarlet O’Hara moment (you know, shaking my little balled fist at the sky and shouting, “as God is my witness, I will never eat Miracle Whip or margarine again!!!”).

Comment from Tibby
Time: January 15, 2014, 2:33 pm

Amen on the Miracle Whip Stoaty! It’s Helmann’s or nothing for me! I grew up eating canned deviled ham sammiches packed in the bread bag for boating or hiking trips. Mooshy oshy goodness. Another favorite was white bread, both slices of bread slathered with mayo, a slice of American cheese, and sliced ripe tomatoes. Let that sit for an hour or two wrapped in plastic wrap and oh! What a good sammich!

As for chicken salad, I was raised on the chunky variety, hubby on the pate type. So it depends on who makes it and who eats it. But both have their good points. I’m flexible.
Oh, and Deborah, I’m totally stealing your pimento cheese recipe.

Comment from Wolfus Aurelius
Time: January 15, 2014, 3:30 pm

“This was my chicken salad sandwich and coffee! I want these things off the ship! I don’t care if it takes every man we’ve got — I want them off the ship!

Comment from Pablo
Time: January 15, 2014, 4:04 pm

Surely you’ve supped at the Willow Tree, so I need not say more than that.

Comment from Harry
Time: January 15, 2014, 4:42 pm

The ex- worked at Hunt-Wesson foods when we met, and until after we were married and #1 was on the way…so any condiments other than Hunt’s was FORBIDDEN in our domicile…as a result even today I prefer Hunt-
Wesson products.

Comment from Can’t Hark My Cry
Time: January 15, 2014, 6:04 pm

Diced cold chicken, diced red onion, dried cranberries, toasted pecans, enough mayo (or strained yogurt, what can I say?) to just bind it together. I’ll add celery or water chestnuts for the crunch if I happen to have them around, but they aren’t essential.

I came late in life to an appreciation of mayonnaise-out-of-a-jar. Because my family was strange, and that’s all I’m saying.

Comment from Uncle Al
Time: January 15, 2014, 11:00 pm

What’s your regional notion of chicken salad?

The aftermath of two equally pigheaded chickens carrying onions, celery, and assorted condiments and racing towards each other at high speed to see who flinches first.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: January 15, 2014, 11:14 pm

Willow Tree…Willow Tree…gosh, I must have, Pablo. That rings a bell…

Comment from Pablo
Time: January 15, 2014, 11:51 pm

It’s ubiquitous around these here Providence Plantations, Stoaty. You can’t hardly avoid it. Ye might have been drunk, though.

Comment from Steve Skubinna
Time: January 16, 2014, 2:19 am

I like the more or less “regular” chicken salad recipes, but from time to time I make it with mayo, raisins, chopped red onion, chopped apple, peanuts, and curry powder or garam masala. Sort of a curried chicken salad.

On wheat bread, can’t beat it!

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