Cameron is a kid of few words and rarely makes any requests for dinner.  Recently he was out to eat and ordered a chicken salad wrap that he described as having big chunks of apples with dried cranberries, kind of sweet with lots of dressing.  He asked if I could make it sometime and I told him I’d give it a try.  Not having tasted it myself, I was left to translate his description into a recipe that would live up to his expectations.  I searched several blogs to find a dressing that would go with what I had planned.  The one that stood out was a slightly sweet dressing with a hint of citrus from “Cookbook Junkies“.  My contribution was adding some sweet and spicy pecans to tempt the taste buds and give a little added crunch.   I had a crusty artisan sourdough loaf that I sliced and toasted for sandwiches and also picked up some spring greens for a salad. We all thought it tasted pretty amazing and was a success according to Cam which I guess is really all that matters!


This starts with making the spicy pecans.  You’ll need 1/4 cup sugar, 1 cup warm water and 1 cup of pecan halves.


Pour the warm water into the sugar and stir until the sugar dissolves.


Now add the pecans to the sugar water mix and let soak for 10 minutes.


Mix together sugar, ground ancho chili and coarsely ground red NM chile in a small bowl.


Pour into a quart size zip lock bag and give it a good shake.


Open bag, drop in pecans that you have just previously drained from the water.


Seal the zip lock bag and give it a good shake until all the sweet and spicy mix completely coats the pecans.


Place on a baking sheet covered in aluminum foil.  I used a sheet of non-stick aluminum foil but if you don’t have that, apply a little cooking spray before spreading out the pecans.  Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 10 minutes.


You really can’t tell from the photos but these are straight out of the oven.  The coating has caramelized onto the pecans and they are infused with sweet and spicy flavors.


Now for the dressing.  You’ll need some mayonnaise, sour cream, salt, brown sugar and lime juice.  The original recipe calls for lemon juice but I was out of lemons so lime will have to do.


Combine all the measured ingredients in a medium bowl and whisk together.  Refrigerate if not using immediately.


Okay, I’m going the easy route, using a rotisserie chicken.  Yes, I used the whole chicken for this recipe.  Plus the cup of spicy pecans, 1 cup of dried cranberries, 1 large granny smith apple and 3 green onions (tops only).


Combine the chopped chicken, apples, cranberries, green onion and spicy pecans in a large bowl.


Spoon in the dressing and mix everything together.


Looks yummy already!


Lay out some leafy greens and add a heaping scoop of chicken salad over top or toast some artisan sourdough bread for a nice sandwich.  You might even want to try Cam’s version with a tortilla to make a wrap.  Enjoy!


Spicy Pecan Chicken Salad with Apples and Cranberries

1 Rotisserie Chicken, meat de-boned from chicken and chopped
1 cup Spicy Pecans, recipe follows
1 cup Dried Cranberries
1 large Granny Smith Apple, diced
3 Green Onions, sliced (green tops only)
Dressing, recipe follows

Mix together all of the chopped chicken, spicy pecans, diced apples, dried cranberries and green onion tops.  Spoon in the dressing mix and fold into the chicken salad.  Serve on sourdough artisan bread or salad greens.

Spicy Pecans (adapted from Southern Living 2001 Annual Recipes)

1/4 cup Sugar
1 cup Warm Water
1 cup Pecan Halves
2 tablespoons Sugar
1 tablespoon Ancho Chile, fine ground
1/2 teaspoon NM Red Chile, coarse ground

Stir together 1/4 cup sugar and warm water into a bowl, stirring until all the sugar has dissolved. Add the pecans and let soak for 10 minutes.  Mix together the remaining sugar, and ground chiles and pour into a quart size zip lock bag.  Drain the pecan halves and add to the zip lock bag of spices and shake bag until all the pecan halves are coated with the sweet and spicy mix.

Place pecans single layer on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil.  Spray a light coating of cooking spray so that the pecans don’t stick.  Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 10 minutes.  Let cool.

Dressing (adapted from “Cookbook Junkies“)

1/2 cup Mayonnaise
1/2 cup Sour Cream
2 tablespoons Lime Juice
2 teaspoons Brown Sugar
1/2 teaspoon Salt

Whisk all ingredients together in a medium bowl.  Use immediately or refrigerate.