Monday, May 25, 2009

Chicken Salad with Celery, Bacon and Pecans in a Packet

(above) Use rolling pin to seal perforations.

(Below) Place 1/4 cup filling on each rectangle.

(Below) Fold over and seal.

(Below) Employ child labor to "paint" packets.

These chicken salad packets were so yummy that even though I carefully documented the creation process (fold, wipe, snap picture, fold, wipe, snap picture, clean kid's hands, snap picture), they were eaten before I could take a shot of the finished product. I guess that means that I need to make them again very soon!

I first made these in high school, based on a recipe in the 1981 classic: "Homemade is Better from Tupperware Home Parties." The recipe was called Chicken Bundles and used a homemade yeast dough to enclose chicken salad made with one of my favorite convenience products, sour cream dip with onion. I took the recipe to college where a roommate suggested that I use Pillsbury crescent rolls for the dough, which worked quite well. You can still substitute yeast dough for the packets; it works great.

For the cooked chicken, I purchased a large package of bone-in, skin-on breasts on sale, rinsed and dried the meat, coated it with vegetable oil, salt and pepper, and put it in the oven for a half hour at 375. I pulled them out, let them cool, and diced the meat. The extra chicken went into the freezer for future meals (quesadillas, calzones, salads, soup) on the fly.

Chicken Salad Packets

2 1/2 cups chopped, cooked chicken
6 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 (8 oz.) carton sour cream dip with onion
3/4 cup finely chopped celery
1/2 cups pecans, toasted and chopped
1/4 cup mayonnaise (I use reduced fat)

3 packages reduced fat crescent rolls
bit of cream, half-n-half or milk for brushing

1. Combine all filling ingredients in a medium mixing bowl. Preheat oven to 375. Have two jelly roll pans at the ready, lined with parchment paper or Silpats.
2. Open crescent roll packages individually. It's best to work with one tube at a time and keep the remainder in the fridge. There are eight rolls to a package, but only divide the dough into four rectangles. Use a rolling pin (Pampered Chef makes a handy mini rolling pin that works great for this task) to smooth out the perforations in each rectangle.
3. Place 1/4 cup of chicken salad on one side of each rectangle. Gently fold the dough over the salad and press the edges to seal. Place on pan and proceed with next tube-o-dough.
4. When all packets are assembled, brush with desired milk product. This is a good job for kids - they like to "paint" whatever is about to go in the oven. Bake at 375 for about 20 minutes, or until nicely brown, with no raw dough spots.
5. Remove from oven and let cool on wire rack for a bit before you serve them, especially to kids (ooooh, mouth burn, par-boiled tongue!). The extras can be refrigerated and served the next day. Would also be nice packed on ice and sent in a lunchbox.

Yield: 12 sandwiches

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