14-3. Ladies Lunch: Chicken Salad Is First on the List

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During that April break I took, I came to the conclusion that were I to start this whole blogging venture over, I’d probably have begun this ladies lunch section with what I consider the 13 classic componentts of ladies bridge lunch menu planning.

Better late than never! #1 (from page 220 of Bridge Table) is

Chicken Salad (with 30s-40s ambiance). You’ll never go wrong serving chicken salad as the main dish for a ladies bridge lunch.

In Fanny Farmer’s original Boston Cooking School Cookbook (1896), there’s just two recipes for chicken salad, and one for equal parts chicken and oysters. I have been intrigued by that last combination since I first saw it–have yet to try it. For all three she asks that the chicken be cut in half-inch cubes. They are simple and basic–chicken and celery.

Chicken Salad I calls for marinating the cooked chicken in salad dressing. Add equal amount of celery to chicken and mayonnaise just before serving. Garnish with capers, celery tips and  hard-boiled egg yolks “forced through a potato ricer.”

Chicken Salad II calls for less celery and a Hollandaise-like dressing. Chicken & Oysters? No celery and “any salad dressing.”

By the time the 1927 edition is published, Fanny Farmer still includes these three chicken salads but has added six fancier versions.

A Better Homes & Gardens article, “Girls, Your Bridgework!” in 1938, gives detailed plans on how to entertain eagle-eyed and critical “girls” when it’s your turn to have that bridge lunch. Her menu is, chicken salad accompanied by rolled asparagus sandwiches. The recipe adds chopped sweet pickle and  hard-boiled eggs to basic chicken and celery and it’s dressed with a combination of bottled salad dressing and whipped cream.

Asparagus rolls are a great idea out of the past, and I’ve had them served to me as a cocktail snack. Simply roll (tightly) cooked (can be canned) asparagus in thin white bread that has been spread with salad dressing or mayonnaise. Can be made the night before andwrapped in a dampened kitchen towel until just before lunch. Arrange on an oiled cookie sheet, brush with melted butter and bake for 10 minutes or so, around 350, or until lightly brown.

#2 on the list of 13 classic elements of a ladies bridge lunch is Chicken Salad with 50s-60s ambiance. Will write about that in blog 15.

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