Sunday, March 15, 2015

Dearborn Park Chicken Salad

There was a wonderful summer when my friend Phil had a boat in Monroe harbor and we sailed the beer can race each Wednesday. One of my fondest memories is working the wheel while we rounded the crib, keel over as far as I dared.  I was worried until I realized, it wasn’t my boat. One evening after the race some guests brought a salad with chicken in it.  I took one bite, looked up and with a great big smile said – Harold’s.
I worked next to a guy who brought a McDonald's Burger and fries every day and ate it at his desk.  Determined to communicate with him, I brought a Billy Goats double cheese with grilled onions and ate it at my desk.  It didn't make an impression.  Then I brought some take out Sushi, no effect.  Next I got a side of white from Harold’s.  The whole floor knew what I was eating.  He considerately ate in the lunch room ever after.
Harold’s is a chicken franchise in Chicago.  What he does is take a great big old chicken and fry it.  Each store has a different taste because each fryer has a different history.  When rents got low downtown, some Harold’s opened up there.   I walked into one just west of the loop that had white people working.  I saw something there I had never seen in Harold’s before or since, a big white block sitting in the fryer, they were melting lard.  The service was slow, as usual, and with decades of payback at stake, I gave them the look, and they hurried up!
If you don’t have a Harold’s, find some place that fries big old birds.  Discard the bones, skin, breading and bust up the chicken.   Use mesclun or arugula, anything with bite, it has to fight the chicken.  Scallions, cherry tomatoes, peppers, almond slivers, radishes, you get the idea. Add olive oil and balsamic vinegar of course.
Don’t accompany it with white bread and Richard’s.  You can say it but don’t do it.  Instead, have a nice chewy sourdough and a Riesling.  If you must be authentic, push the cork in and drink out of the bottle. Don’t bother checking your cholesterol for a month, it’s too high and you’re going to die and that’s all there is to it.

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