Palta Reina was one of the first dishes Jen and I tried once we crossed the Andes into Chile last year. After eating some ridiculously delicious cows and lamb in Argentina, Chilean cuisine was a nice change of scene. Many of the dishes were still on the heavier side (Chileans LOVE their mayo), but we absolutely adored Chilean avocados (palta) and one of the most popular ways to serve avocados is with tomatoes and mayonnaise (yum). Palta Reina is essentially chicken salad sliced on an avocado half. It’s a simple dish, and makes for an easy appetizer. I used Emeril Lagasse’s recipe, but there are dozens of different versions out there ranging from super simple to more intricate. For other ideas from Chilean Cuisine, check out what we made in our Chilean Cooking Class. And for another version of a chicken salad, try Lady Marmalade Chicken Salad.
Palta Reina (also known as Chicken Salad with Fresh Herbs on Avocado from Emeril Lagasse)
Yields: 4-6 servings
- 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 2 tbsp EVOO
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
- 1/2 cup finely diced celery stalks, plus 1/4 cup chopped celery leaves
- 1/3 cup finely chopped red onion (I actually substituted shallots here, because that is what I had handy)
- 3 tablespoons chopped mixed fresh herbs (such as parsley and tarragon. Bonus points for using tarragon from my Aerogarden)
- 1/2 teaspoon celery seeds (honestly didn’t have these, so skipped this step)
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 to 3 avocados, halved and pitted
Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Rinse the chicken briefly under cool running water, then pat dry with paper towels. Season on both sides with 2 teaspoons salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Heat the olive oil in a 12-inch ovenproof sauté pan over high heat. Add the chicken and cook 2 minutes. Turn the chicken over and immediately place the pan in the oven. I do not have a stove-and-oven-safe pan. So I used a regular pan, heated a glass baking dish in the oven meanwhile and did a quick transfer of chicken which I think was successful.
Roast 10 to 15 minutes, or until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165ºF when tested with an instant-read thermometer. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool. (As an aside, this ridiculously easy method yields ridiculously delicious chicken all on its own, so if you are tight on time, just salt and pepper, pan sear and roast chicken for a quick meal!)
In a large mixing bowl, combine the mayonnaise, garlic, mustard, celery, celery leaves, red onion, herbs, celery seeds and cayenne pepper. Mix well.
When the chicken is cool enough to handle, cut it into a 1/2-inch dice.
Add it to the mayonnaise mixture and mix well. If not serving immediately, transfer to the refrigerator to chill. Serve in avocado halves, if desired.