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Kathleen Brady's Indian Melon Salad

Kathleen Brady is a lovely Irishwoman who lives in Winnetka. My dear Kathleen has known her since college, and I've had the pleasure of meeting her a few times myself. Learning that I was a cook, Kathleen Brady gave me a few recipes, and this one has been a staple of our summertimes ever since. It is the most refreshing savory dish that I know.

First, you roast a chicken. You don't overcook it, as I'm afraid I did the other night. You and your partner dine on the dark meat, reserving the breast. The breast is for this dish. Depending on the size of the bird, this recipe will provide too much for two or plenty for three. To serve four, poach half of a chicken breast (or more, if you think you need it), and chop it up with the roast meat.

In case you're not the sort of person who reads recipes through before starting in on them, I'll repeat the last line here: "Chill for three hours." It's essential that the ingredients sit together for a while in a cold place. For some reason, I've taken to balling the melon just before serving. If you're reading this months after publication date (April 2006), you can be sure that I've reverted to following the recipe. (Otherwise, I'll change it, won't I?)

First, make the dressing. Combine

1 cup mayonnaise

½ teaspoon curry

1 teaspoon lemon juice

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon freshly-ground pep­per

1 teaspoon soy sauce

Whisk this to a smooth, even consistency. Then add the stuff.

Two cups of cooked chicken.

5 ounces sliced water chest­nuts (small can)

½ pound green grapes

½ cup sliced celery

1 cup balled honeydew

1 cup balled canteloupe

Chill for three hours. Serve in lettuce cups. Potato chips are an almost elegant accompaniment, and you won't eat too many of them.

What is this simplissimo dish doing in the cooking section of a Web site? There's no cooking? Well, hardly any. Cans and bottles are opened! There is nothing impressive about the preparation, and the dish has a slight retro flair, as if one were lunching at a very proper country club in the Midwest.

Well, it's here because it's cool comfort food! (April 2006)

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