That's when Mom made them for me for lunch. And I don't mean salads WITH chicken (the "ugh" of the healthy menu at fast-casual restaurants). I mean the sloppy, sticky diner-style chicken salads all gloopy with mayonnaise, speckled with sweet pickle relish and studded with crunchy bits of chopped celery. And the best part of the chicken salad? Those clumps that oozed out from between the bread slices to land with a plop on the plate. I ate those with my fingers.
My tastes have become a bit more sophisticated since those days. Though not by much. And I'm still partial to a hefty dose of mayo. So when I'm hankering for a little comfort in summer, this is the version I make now.
GRIDDLED CHICKEN SALAD SANDWICH ON RYE
Start to finish: 15 minutes
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/2 to 1 teaspoon hot sauce, to taste
1/4 cup bread and butter pickle slices, finely chopped
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
1 cup shredded cooked chicken meat
2 tablespoons butter, softened
4 large slices rye bread
4 deli slices cheddar cheese
4 thick slice tomato
In a medium bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, mustard, fennel seeds and hot sauce. Mix in the pickles, celery and chicken until everything is well coated.
Use the butter to coat 1 side of each slice of bread. For each sandwich, top the unbuttered side of 1 slice of bread with a slice of cheese, then half of the chicken salad. Gently press 2 tomato slices into the chicken salad, then top with another slice of cheese and a second slice of bread, buttered side up.
Heat a medium skillet over medium-high. Set the sandwiches in the skillet, cover and reduce heat to low. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until lightly golden. Use a spatula to carefully flip the sandwich and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the sandwich to a cutting board and let rest for 2 minutes. Cut into halves and serve immediately.
Nutrition information per serving: 740 calories; 410 calories from fat (55 per cent of total calories); 46 g fat (19 g saturated; 0.5 g trans fats); 170 mg cholesterol; 1,100 mg sodium; 39 g carbohydrate; 5 g fiber; 8 g sugar; 42 g protein.
J.M. Hirsch is the food editor for The Associated Press. He blogs at http://www.LunchBoxBlues.com and tweets at http://twitter.com/JM_Hirsch . Email him at email@example.com