Salmagundi was a popular dish in 17th and 18th century America, although it has its origins as far back as the 1500s. Essentially, Salmagundi is what we would call a “composed salad” today— a salad the eats like a meal.
In addition to lettuce, Salmagundi features meat of some kind as well as various vegetables. Cheeses, fruits, nuts and edible flowers may also be included. The dressing is always oil and vinegar based. You can use any oil and vinegar combination you like–including using the reserved fat from cooking pork bacon, if you use it in the dish.
The recipe for salmagundi can be as long or as short as you make it—it all depends on the different components you want to add. It’s a perfect dish to use up leftover vegetables or meats. Our recipe for salmagundi is one presented at the museum during our Washington birthday dinner Ale to the Chief and other colonial-themed food events, but you may substitute any of the ingredients for those you prefer. This recipe calls for a chicken to be roasted, however you can also purchase a pre-roasted chicken. We like the ones from our friends at The Fresh Market.
Serves 6 to 8
For the Chicken:
- 1 3-pound chicken, rinsed and patted dry
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the salad:
- 1 pound, mini tri-color carrots, with stem end attached, or other vegetables of your choice
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
- ½ teaspoon cumin powder
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
- 4 eggs
- 8 slices pork bacon or turkey bacon
- 2 heads butter lettuce, shredded
- ½ pint tri-color grape tomatoes or 1 large beefsteak tomato
- ¼ small red or yellow onion, sliced thinly
- 2 Persian cucumbers or ½ English cucumber, ends trimmed and sliced into 1/8 inch slices
- 4 tablespoons shaved asiago cheese or shredded cheese of your choice (optional)
- 2 tablespoons slivered almonds or nuts of your choice (optional)
- 5 or 6 nasturtium or other edible flower (optional)
For the dressing:
- ¼ cup sherry vinegar or other vinegar of your choice
- 1/8 teaspoon coarse salt
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 garlic clove minced
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- ¾ cup good quality extra virgin olive oil or bacon fat plus enough olive oil to make up to ¾ cup
1. Roast the chicken if making from scratch: Preheat oven to 400° F. Place chicken in a baking dish and rub all over with the olive oil. Season generously with salt and freshly ground pepper and roast the chicken for 1 hour or until the internal temperature registers 165° F when thermometer is placed into the thickest part of the thigh. You may also test if a chicken is done by piercing the thigh with a sharp knife. If the juices run clear it is cooked through.
2. Remove the chicken from the oven and allow to cool for 20 minutes so the juices redistribute and you can handle comfortably. Cut chicken breast from bone and cut into bite sized pieces and set aside. Remove the legs and thighs and remove the meat from these as well. Cut into bite-sized pieces and set aside.
3. While the chicken is roasting, roast the carrots. Place the carrots in a large bowl and add the olive oil, salt, pepper, cumin and thyme and toss well so the carrots are fully coated. Spread on a sheet tray and add to the oven on a separate rack from the chicken. Roast for 30 to 35 minutes or until browned and fork tender. Remove from oven and set aside.
4. Hard boil the eggs: Place the eggs in a saucepan with enough water to cover by 2 inches. Bring to a boil then turn off the heat and cover. Allow to sit until cool. Peel when cool enough to handle and cut each egg in half lengthwise and then each half into three wedges. Set aside.
5. Arrange the bacon on a sheet tray and place in the oven with the chicken but on a different rack. Cook until slightly crispy—about 15 minutes for pork bacon and 10 minutes for turkey bacon. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly and crumble. Set aside. If using pork bacon, you may reserve the bacon fat for the vinaigrette if you wish.
6. Arrange the lettuce leaves on a large platter and add the roasted chicken on top. Slice the tomatoes in half, if using grape tomatoes, or into small wedges if using beefsteak or other tomatoes and arrange around and on top of the chicken. Repeat with the cucumber and onion slices on top of the tomato slices.
7. Next arrange the hard boiled eggs in a pattern on top of the salad with the roasted carrots in between and sprinkle the bacon pieces on top. Last, sprinkle on the cheese and almonds, if using.
8. Make the Vinaigrette: Place all the ingredients in a small, sealable jar and shake vigorously. Spoon, as desired, over Salmagundi before serving. Arrange edible flowers, if using, over top of platter.