Tart Chicken Salad with Sour-Cream Dressing (Salat Olivier)

from Russian Cooking, of the Time-Life Foods of the World series

2 whole chicken breasts, about 3/4 pound each
1 large onion, peeled and quartered
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup coarsely chopped, drained, sour dill pickles
4 boiled new potatoes, cooled, peeled, and thinly sliced
3 hard-cooked eggs, peeled and thinly sliced
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
3/4 cup mayonnaise, freshly made or a good unsweetened
commercial variety
3/4 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons capers, drained, washed, and patted dry with
paper towels
1 tablespoon finely cut fresh dill leaves
6 green olives
1 medium tomato, peeled and cut lengthwise into eighths
1 small head Boston lettuce, the leaves separated, washed and
dried with paper towels

In a heavy 2- to 3-quart pot, combine the chicken, onion and 1 teaspoon of the salt. Cover with about 1 1/2 quarts of cold water and bring to a boil uncovered over high heat, skimming off the fat and scum as it rises to the surface. Partially cover the pan, reduce the heat to low, and simmer about 10 minutes, or until the chicken is tender. Remove the chicken from the pot and with a small, sharp knife, remove and discard the skin and cut the meat away from the bones. Cut the chicken meat into strips about 1/2 inch wide and combine them in a large mixing bowl with the pickles, potatoes and eggs. Sprinkle with the remaining teaspoon of salt and 1/8 teaspoon of white pepper. In a small bowl, beat together the mayonnaise and sour cream, and stir half of it into the salad. Taste for seasoning.

To serve salat Olivier in the traditional Russian manner, shape the salad into a pyramid in the middle of a serving platter. Mask with the remaining sour-cream-and-mayonnaise dressing and sprinkle it with capers and dill. Decorate with olives, tomatoes and lettuce leaves.

Serves 6.

Freshly made mayonnaise makes a difference.


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