Creamy Chicken, Pancetta and Mango Salad

I’m struggling to tie this in with Scottish Food and Drink, but how about this for justification…

  • for the first time this year it’s warm enough to eat outside in Highlands,
  • this is my favourite ‘family tea’ to serve outside, and
  • I got the main ingredient (the chicken) from the fabulous Cairngorm Butcher in Grantown on Spey.

That’s good enough for me J

It’s a recipe I threw together out of desperation/inspiration a few years ago, and I keep coming back to it. It has the right combination of being ‘good-for-you’, tasting luxurious, and needing little in the way of fiddly prep. And in my fridge or freezer, supplemented by the veg patch in summer, I usually have all the ingredients!

In the absence of chicken it works well with hot smoked salmon, especially the lovely stuff from Loch Duart. I’m a bit hazy with quantities – this serves three or four, depending on appetite.

Creamy chicken, prosciutto and mango salad

Creamy chicken, prosciutto and mango salad

Creamy Chicken, Pancetta and Mango Salad

What you need…

For the poached chicken…

  • Two chicken breasts (from the butcher)
  • A couple of star anise
  • A pinch of whole black peppercorns
  • A couple of slices of fresh ginger – if you have them

For the salad…

  • A bag of mixed herb and salad leaves (in summer I pick these from the veg patch)
  • A few spring onions, chopped (ditto re veg patch)
  • A mango, cubed (about 1cm pieces) (not from the veg patch – I have to get them at the shops)
  • A packet of prosciutto – about six slices

For the dressing…

  • A good dollop of crème fraiche
  • A teaspoon or more of wine vinegar (any)
  • A tablespoon or more of Culisse Highland Rapeseed Oil
  • A chopped shallot (or a couple more spring onions)
  • Salt & pepper

To garnish…

  • Lightly toasted flaked almonds or pine nuts
  • Chopped chives (again – the garden)

What you do…

  1. Boil some water in a saucepan, season with a little salt, and add the poaching spices and pepper. Add the chicken breasts then clamp a lid on the pan, and leave the chicken to gently poach. By the time the liquid had cooled the chicken will be lovely and tender, and delicately fragrant. Always check that the chicken is properly cooked through before using – if not, gently reheat the poaching liquid and give it another few minutes.
  2.  Place the prosciutto slices in a single layer onto baking sheets and bake in the over at Gas Mark 4 for approx. 15 minutes until they are turning crisp. Keep checking them and keep turning them over. You won’t need to oil the baking sheets; the ham shouldn’t stick.
  3. While the prosciutto cooks, assemble the other salad ingredients in a large, flat serving dish.
  4. Take the dressing by combining all the dressing ingredients – check seasoning and adjust the consistency – it should be like thick double cream.
  5. Tear the chicken into pieces and scatter over the salad leaves, and add the dressing. Toss lightly.
  6. Break the prosciutto into bite sized pieces, and lay it over the salad, then scatter the chives and pine nuts/almonds on top.

This is best enjoyed in the garden, with a crisp glass of white or rose wine, and a bowl of raspberries to follow.

Here’s to many, many warm summer evenings. Happy days!