When I left Western Kentucky for college in Virginia, I loved chicken salad as much as I do today. From that point forward, I was on a quest to find a chicken salad that lives up to the California chicken salad served by the Curtis Grace family here in Paducah. I have yet to find it. Even in California.
Nearly 20 years after leaving, I now live in Paducah again. And I regularly thank my lucky stars that I can stop by the House of Grace for lunch and eat that heavenly chicken salad anytime I want. There is a slight hitch though…the Grace’s chicken salad calls for 2 cups of mayo and a whole stick of butter. So I save the House of Grace for those days when I really, really need some extra calories.
On regular ole school nights when I’m making chicken salad for my family, I serve this curried cranberry pecan version, which was inspired by Curtis Grace’s recipe, but contains a fraction of the calories and fat, and it takes only about 15 minutes to make. Sometimes I switch out the pecans for toasted slivered almonds, which is more in keeping with the Grace recipe. We love it on yeast or wheat rolls or bagels, but plain sliced bread works great, too. Over a bed of greens with some light salad dressing is one of my favorite lunches. My kids love it with grapes and strawberries.
It will never match Curtis Grace. But I am now pretty convinced that nothing ever will.
If you don’t live in Paducah, come visit this beautiful place, and don’t miss the House of Grace. In the meantime, whip up some curried cranberry pecan chicken salad for a spring lunch or supper! Now shake that booty!
Curried Cranberry Pecan Chicken Salad
- Prep time: 15 minutes
- Rest time: 5 to 10 minutes
- 2 (13 oz) cans chicken breast, drained
- 1 cup light mayonnaise
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans
- 1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
- 1/2 tsp curry powder
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
- pinch of marjoram
- Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and stir well
- Allow to rest for 5 to 10 minutes so flavors can blend
- Serve on rolls, bread, or over fresh greens, and with fresh fruit