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Arthur's chicken salad: Finger-licking, but not chicken

The popular chicken salad at Arthur’s isn’t . . . chicken.
The popular chicken salad at Arthur’s isn’t . . . chicken. Jennifer Lover

There are only five ingredients in Arthur’s chicken salad, and none of them is chicken. Yes, you read that correctly, there isn’t any chicken.

Pam Linkous wrote in for the recipe, concerned that things may change since Belk at SouthPark, where Arthur’s is located, is being sold. No need to worry, Pam, everything is staying the same. Tim Belk will remain as CEO and Arthur’s Restaurant & Wine Shop isn’t going anywhere.

Arthur’s is a Charlotte icon. It has been around for more than 40 years, and owner Steve Balsley has been making their chicken salad the exact same way since the beginning. Balsley said that when they started making the salad, chicken breasts were small and turkey breasts were much larger. So, he figured, why not use turkey instead? He buys a whole, oven-roasted breast, slices it about 1/2-inch thick, and then cuts it into cubes. I had the deli cut the thick slices and then cubed them the same way.

As he scribbled the simple ingredients on a scrap of paper, Balsley warned me that the biggest challenge would be the mayonnaise. He buys the heavy-duty kind from a restaurant supply store, which launched a multitude of questions: What does heavy duty mean? Can I make it from scratch? It’s not Duke’s?

One thing I have learned from writing this column is not to discuss choice of mayo brands. It’s like a religion. Everyone is loyal to the brand from their childhood, and I know this is going to make some of you unhappy. Steve gave me a cup of the mayo he uses and I did a taste test to see which national brand came the closest. Kraft won, with the addition of a little extra vinegar. I am sorry – please feel free to use Duke’s.

This recipe is a classic, but try adding pecans, grapes, raisins or dried cranberries to the mix. Play around with it and have some fun.

Are you looking for a recipe from a Charlotte-area restaurant? Send your request to Jennifer Lover, or on Instagram (@jenniferlover). Please include your name, why you like the recipe, the area where you live and the restaurant’s location. Lover is a creative director, stylist and cook who lives in Charlotte.

Arthur’s Restaurant & Wine Shop

4400 Sharon Road; 704-366-6456.

Arthur’s Chicken Salad

1 pound oven-roasted deli turkey breast, cubed

1/2 cup celery, finely chopped

4 sliced cooked bacon, finely chopped

1/2 cup mayonnaise (preferably Kraft)

1 teaspoon cider vinegar

1/2 teaspoon celery seed

Place turkey, celery and bacon in a medium bowl.

In a small bowl, whisk together mayonnaise and vinegar.

Add mayo mixture to turkey and stir until well-mixed, breaking up some of the turkey cubes with the back of the spoon as you go.

Add celery seed and stir to combine.

Yield: Enough for 4 sandwiches.