Dear Home Ec 101:
What’s the best way to cook chicken if you are going to use it in chicken salad? The only ways I know how to cook it- baked, roasted, grilled- don’t seem right for that kind of use.
~ Cluckin’ Clueless
I use each of the methods you list for chicken salad. Ivy uses canned chicken, it can be found near the tuna. Chicken for salad can be either cubed or shredded, it is only a matter of personal preference.
If I had to guess, I believe the crux of your dilemma may be that the seasonings you chose while cooking chicken for the initial meal are hard to translate into your vision of chicken salad. It would be hard to see a spicy Cajun rubbbed chicken as a traditional ice cream scoop blob-o-salad found in many cafeterias. You aren’t restricted to your great-grandma’s recipe. Take the basic chicken + binder (mayo or cream cheese) + fruit or vegetables and change the seasonings to complement the flavor of chicken you have on hand. Let your imagination run wild when choosing your spices and extras for your version. Several months ago I posted a recipe for chicken salad. This one works well with lightly seasoned cooked chicken and especially well with lemon pepper or herbed versions. If I had leftover blackened chicken I would skip the apples and raisins, opting for carrots for crunch and perhaps blue cheese for a complimentary flavor. If I had a chicken with an Asian flair, I would substitute cream cheese for the mayo, water chestnuts for crunch, add a bit of toasted sesame seeds, and perhaps some chopped snow peas.
Have fun experimenting.