I promise you, after you try this ensalada de gallina (aka Venezuelan chicken salad), you will never ever make another recipe. This is modesty aside, the perfect Venezuelan chicken salad recipe. Trust me.
Note: As a member of the Amazon Affiliate Program, I receive compensation for products sold through the affiliate links in this post at no cost to the buyer.
Ensalada de gallina means hen salad because the original recipe calls for hen meat. However, I make it with chicken breast. With that said, I must confess I was never a poultry person, so I was never into this salad. I liked ensaladilla rusa, instead. The same salad that is so popular in Spain.
A Family Recipe
That is why, when my son Tomás Eugenio’s godmother, who was visiting Miami, told me that she was going to prepare it (with the recipe of Elsy, her mom, to be precise), I said to myself: I have to do this! So I let go of everything I was doing, grabbed my apron, and went to help her.
Christmas Chicken Salad
In Venezuela, this chicken salad is synonymous with Christmas and New Year’s celebration, when it is served as a side of a roasted pork leg, the superb hallacas, and of course with a couple of slices of the so delicious pan de jamón.
But also, this chicken salad is present in any important celebration including christenings, communions, and weddings. That is to say: in Venezuela, this is the holiday salad.
How to Make Venezuelan Chicken Salad
Besides chicken breasts, this salad has steamed al dente diced potatoes and carrots, and also steamed green peas. Since I learned to make it the way my comadre does, I steam the veggies instead of boiling them.
The dressing for this salad is made of mayonnaise. Elsy’s secret is blending the mayo with a little bit of fresh garlic, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, and Dijon mustard. Then onion, finely chopped in brunoise, is added.
Elsy also adds finely diced green apples. For me, the firm, crunchy Granny Smith apples are the ingredient that gives this salad the so needed crunchy texture and a freshness that otherwise it would not have.
I cook the chicken in water with carrot pieces, the green part of a leek, and a bay leaf. The resulting broth can be used for another purpose. If you don’t have anything in mind to use it, you freeze it for later.
Once cooked, and at room temperature, I shred the chicken with my fingers. Keep reading because there is a trick you don’t want to miss.
Venezuelan Ensalada de Gallina Recipe
To make this recipe you’ll need some utensils and ingredients, including:
- Wooden cutting board
- Standing electric mixer or manual electric mixer
- Glass bowls
- Salad serving bowl
- Dijon mustard
Tips to Make the Best Venezuelan Chicken Salad
Although I first shared this recipe in Spanish in December 2014, in the years that I have been making it, I have learned a few tricks that I list below:
- To save time, you can peel, cut, and cook the vegetables the day before and add the shredded chicken and the dressing the day you eat the salad.
- Cut the onion as finely as you can (in brunoise) and add it to the dressing.
- If you don’t like to have apples in this salad, you can skip it, but my advice is that you try it. Definitely, green apple brings a crunchy texture and lots of freshness to this salad.
- Go for fresh frozen peas: they taste batter than canned peas.
- If you are one of those who don’t like garlic, you can skip it, and that’s perfectly ok. In fact, when I make this salad for sale, I don’t add garlic to the dressing. If you watch the video, you will notice there is no garlic there.
- If you choose to follow Elsy’s recipe, cut the garlic cloves in two lengthwise, and remove the vein, to avoid repeating the flavor after eating.
- Always use Dijon mustard.
- If you can’t eat sugar, substitute monk fruit in equal amounts.
- You may need to add a pinch of salt to the dressing.
- This salad lasts fresh in the refrigerator for up to two days, no longer. That’s why when I make it on demand, I always prepare it the same day it is delivered.
Venezuelan Chicken Salad (Ensalada de gallina)
- 4 cups potatoes, peeled and diced
- 2 cups carrots diced
- 2 cups fresh peas you can use canned, but I prefer frozen ones. Reserve 1/4 cup for garnish.
- 2 tablespoons onion finely chopped
- 2 cups green apple peeled and diced
- 4 cups chicken breasts cooked and finely shredded (about 2 chicken breasts)
- 2 cups mayonnaise
- 1/2 garlic clove puréed
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 2 teaspoons brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- In a steamer, cook the potatoes with a pinch of salt until they are soft but firm. Reserve.
- In the same pot, steam the carrots with a pinch of salt until they are cooked but firm. Reserve.
- In the same pot, cook frozen peas with a pinch of salt until they are soft but firm. Reserve.
- Mix the potatoes, carrots, peas, onion, apples, and chicken in a large salad bowl, and carefully combine.
- In a bowl, make the dressing by mixing well the mayo, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, sugar, and garlic, until it gets a creamy consistency.
- Dress the salad and combine. Garnish with the reserved peas.
Not-to-be-missed: my Waldorf Salad.