A few weeks ago I was visiting some friends up North. You know how we Caribbean people are – constantly feeding family and friends, even if they are already full. It is not a complaint; I won’t change it for anything in the world. So one fine day, around 11 a.m. My friend, Audrey and I sat at her kitchen table chatting about this and that. Suddenly she got up and I immediately knew why, she felt that we should be nibbling on something, after all, breakfast was over 2 hours ago!
Audrey took a box of Ritz whole-wheat crackers (biscuits) from the cupboard and placed it on the table. She then went to the refrigerator and brought out a container, removed the cover and set it down next to the box of biscuits. It looked like some sort of spread but I couldn’t tell what kind exactly. As she busied herself getting us some drinks, I asked what’s in the container, to which she responded, “Just some chicken I chopped up and put in seasonings and so on.” I took the spreader, dipped into the container and smeared the mixture onto one of the biscuits. Damn, the thing was good! It was better than good. I was not particularly hungry but before you knew it, I had eaten about 6 or 8 of those biscuits with the chicken spread. Audrey and I ended up sitting at that table for another 2 hours enjoying each other’s company, the gyaffing and of course, eating.
Audrey and her husband, Clifford are both busy working professionals and so meal planning is very important to them. Each evening after dinner, lunch for the next day is planned and organized so that in morning, they are able to be up and out of the house on time and fuss-free. Some of the things they do are to chop up fruits and vegetables that are edible raw and place them in serving-size containers. These function as snacks in between meals. Then they have their food that they will take with them and sometimes there are sandwiches. Clifford particularly likes the chicken-spread sandwiches. Their meal planning and organization are to be admired.
Since I’ve been back home, I’ve made the chicken spread twice. The thing that I like about the chicken spread is that it is not only easy to make, but it is also an ideal way to use up leftover meat from a roast, bake, steak or chops. The spread is savoury and meaty. I don’t know about you but there are times when I want something to eat, not a full meal and not an out of the box or packet kind of snack but something in-between, well, I think that I have hit the jackpot with the spread because it fits that “in-betweeness” perfectly. Moreover, I can use it with a variety of breads and biscuits and even with raw vegetables as a dip. I would even serve it when entertaining as an appetizer or as part of a tea offering.
You don’t have to wait until you have leftovers to make the spread, you can cook meat specifically to make the spread. For example, chicken breasts are my least favourite part of the chicken, but cooking it and turning it into a spread makes chicken breasts my new bffs (best friends forever). The chicken spread can be made with thigh and drumstick meat too. The other day I had some roast pork left over and yep, you guessed it, I made a spread with it. It was exceptionally delicious. I think that having the meat already cooked with its own flavourings of spices and or herbs brings a certain umami flavour to the dish.
Audrey, thanks so much for this idea, now I don’t have to be stuck eating one thing for 3 – 4 days just because I decided to make roast chicken or pork. I wonder how beef or lamb would take to being turned into a spread… And I now have something that can satisfy me in place of a full meal.
I didn’t ask Audrey for a recipe, this is one of those things that you wing and make it with whatever you have on hand, however, the main ingredient other than the meat is mayonnaise, it is what will bind the spread. Thick, Greek-style yogurt can work too but know that it will offer some tartness to the spread.
Audrey’s Inspired Chicken Spread
● Cooked chicken meat, skinned, deboned and chopped roughly
● Whole (Real) mayonnaise (use light if you like)
● Salt to taste
● Pepper sauce to taste
● Spicy, honey, Cajun or whole grain mustard
● Sweet relish
● Thinly sliced green onions/scallions (the green parts only)
1. Add the chopped chicken to the bowl of a food processor and pulse until the meat is shredded and softened. Transfer the meat to a bowl.
2. Add the other ingredients to the meat in the bowl and mix well to incorporate. Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary. The mixture should be the consistency of a spreadable paste. Add more mayonnaise if it is too thick.
3. Transfer the mixture to an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use. The spread will keep for 7 days in the refrigerator as long as you always use a clean utensil.
● A squirt or two of lime or lemon juice is optional and based on your personal taste.
● You can make this spread with roast or baked pork.
● It is ideal to let the spread set overnight or for a few hours so that the flavours can meld and develop.
● If you want to serve the spread as a dip, bring it up to room temperature first before setting it out. This will make it softer and easier to dip.