This is a recipe close to my heart. You almost can’t call it a recipe it’s so simple, fundamentally it’s just chicken, mayonnaise and herbs. You’ll never see it in a fancy restaurant and it’s not food for a dinner party. But I guarantee, when you make this dish, no matter how much you make, you won’t have any left the next day. It’s a dish designed for leftovers but now I roast chicken specifically to make it. If you take it to a picnic or barbecue you’re instantly the most popular person there. It’s only downfall is it’s not very good for you but then I won’t tell if you won’t.
Like many great favourites, it’s history starts with family. Specifically it starts with my mum. I don’t know where mum picked it up from but it was a staple part of our childhood. At first it was a way to use up left over roast chicken. And then we bought chickens specifically for it. You see, even if you don’t roast it yourself, rotisserie chicken is a big deal in Australia. There are rotisserie chicken shops everywhere and lunch is often a quarter of chicken with stuffing from Charlie’s Chickens. I distinctly remember sneaking little bits of stuffing out of the foil lined bags whilst I thought my mum wasn’t looking (I think she always was) and waiting impatiently for us to shred the chickens. I loved shredding the chickens by hand – I always felt an affinity for Dominique Bretodeau in the film Amelie.
When mum used to make it, she would just mix the shredded chicken with roughly chopped coriander, some salt and store bought mayonnaise. It was delicious and you should totally do that if you want – people will still love you for it. Nowadays, I love to make my own mayonnaise (here’s a previous post on tips and tricks, full recipe for this mayonnaise below). I make a basic mayonnaise with lots of vinegar and mustard and a touch of rapeseed oil which adds a nutty flavour, so if you’re using store bought mayonnaise a spoonful of Dijon mustard and a hit of white wine vinegar goes a long way. I’ve found as well that some chives add a little something as well as finely chopped coriander. It goes ridiculously well with pickled oyster mushrooms – another picnic favourite which you can make ahead.
I often make this recipe with leftovers, a leftover shredded chicken breast and some wings from a roast chicken. But if I’m making it from scratch I always turn to chicken thighs. Skinless, boneless thigh fillets are cheap and roast deliciously tender. Normally I would roast thighs at a high heat of 200 degrees Celsius plus in order to crisp the skin. However, the skin plays no part in this dish and a lower heat of about 170-180 degrees Celsius for about 45-60 minutes will give a more tender and easily shredded chicken. I hope you like this dish as much as I do – what’s your favourite picnic dish?
The mayonnaise can be made up to a week in advance (it actually keeps much longer). In fact, the whole dish will keep for a week in the fridge, but it’s never lasted that long for me,
Shredded chicken with mayonnaise and herbs
- 6 skinless boneless chicken thighs
- 5 tablespoons mayonnaise (recipe below, if using store bought add 2 teaspoons of dijon mustard and a splash of white wine vinegar)
- 1 large bunch of coriander finely chopped
- 1 small bunch of chives finely chopped
- Olive oil, sea salt and pepper
- Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Season the chicken thighs with salt and lightly rub with olive oil. Place them on a roasting tray and roast for 45-60 minutes until cooked through and tender.
- Place the cooked thighs in a bowl and shred with your fingers until in thin shreds. Allow to cool.
- Mix in the herbs and mayonnaise and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Add a little more mayonnaise, mustard or even lemon juice or vinegar to taste.
- 1 whole egg
- 1 egg yolk
- 2 teaspoons of dijon mustard (if it needs more add after you’ve emulsified)
- Good splash of white wine vinegar
- 50 ml olive oil (not extra virgin)
- 100ml rapeseed oil
- 200-300ml vegetable, canola, rice bran or sunflower oil
- Sea salt and black pepper
- Combine the egg, egg yolk, mustard, salt, pepper and white wine vinegar in a blender and rpocess until smooth. I actually favour a long tall plastic container and a stick blender.
- With the blender running, slowly add the olive oil and rapeseed oil in a thin stream. If at any point it starts to pool oil on the top, stop pouring and blend until combined. Now add the vegetable, canola or rice bran oil (or pretty much any other neutral flavoured oil) until it thickens. Remember mayonnaise actually gets thicker the more oil you add so don’t worry if it feels a little thin, it will thicken.
- Taste and add more vinegar, mustard or salt and pepper as needed.