Recipe courtesy of Allison Robicelli and Matt Robicelli

Polynesian Chicken Salad

After decades of sad salads made from cold iceberg lettuce and flavorless supermarket tomatoes, the people of the 1970s were ready for salad excitement. They started including "exotic" ingredients like mandarin oranges and macadamia nuts that had become readily available in supermarkets. Then they added lots of mayonnaise and sour cream (because this is still America) and served it all on a few leaves of iceberg lettuce, because that's what officially makes things a salad. Eventually we wised up and realized that Polynesian chicken salad shouldn't be considered a "healthy" salad -- but goshdarnit is it ever tasty (seriously).
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  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 30 min
  • Active: 30 min
  • Yield: 8 first course servings or 4 entree servings
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1 rotisserie chicken

One 8-ounce can crushed pineapple

One 11-ounce can mandarin oranges packed in juice, drained

1 cup diced celery

1/2 cup shredded carrots

1/2 cup halved seedless red grapes 

2/3 cup mayonnaise 

1/3 cup sour cream

1 teaspoon garam masala

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1/4 cup chopped macadamia nuts 

1 small head iceberg lettuce


  1. Remove the skin from the rotisserie chicken, then rip into small pieces and set aside. Remove the meat and discard the carcass, then shred the meat into small pieces.
  2. Drain the canned pineapple, reserving the juice. Put the pineapple in a large bowl with the chicken meat, drained mandarin oranges, celery, carrots and grapes.
  3. Whisk together the mayonnaise, sour cream, garam masala, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Add a bit of the reserved pineapple juice to thin out until pourable.
  4. Heat the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken skin and macadamia nuts and cook, stirring occasionally, until the nuts are toasted and the skin is crispy. 
  5. Pour the dressing over the chicken salad and toss well to coat.
  6. Line four plates with whole iceberg lettuce leaves, then mound some chicken salad in the center of each. Top each salad with chicken skin and macadamia nuts. Serve immediately.
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