Oscar Tschirky, the legendary maître d'hôtel of New York's Waldorf-Astoria hotel, created the Waldorf salad in 1893. While this concoction of apples, celery, walnuts, and mayonnaise has come in and out of fashion since, its decadent deliciousness makes it a retro favorite for us. Mix up our version tonight served with tender chicken breast in crunchy butter lettuce cups topped with candied walnuts, and enjoy the delicious history.
Rinse chicken breasts, pat dry, and season both sides with 1 tsp. salt and a pinch of pepper. Heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil in a large non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Place chicken in hot pan and cook until golden brown, 2-3 minutes per side. Transfer to prepared baking sheet. Wipe pan clean and reserve. Chicken will finish cooking in later step.
Finish the Chicken
Place baking sheet in oven and roast until chicken reaches a minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees, 5-7 minutes. Transfer chicken to a large mixing bowl and allow to cool at least 5 minutes.
Candy the Walnuts
In pan used to sear chicken, combine sugar, walnuts, a pinch of salt, and 4 tsp. water over medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring constantly, until most liquid has evaporated and walnuts are sticky, 5-7 minutes. Carefully (hot nut alert!) remove to a plate. Allow to cool before breaking into smaller pieces.
Prepare the Ingredients
Zest lemon, halve, and juice. Trim ends off celery and cut into ¼" dice. Core apples and cut into ¼" dice. Separate leaves of lettuce for cups.
Make the Salad
Once chicken has cooled, use two forks or your hands to pull into bite-sized shreds. Add 2 Tbsp. lemon juice, celery, apple (reserve a pinch for garnish), dried cranberries (reserve a pinch for garnish), mayonnaise, ¾ the Greek yogurt, ½ tsp. salt, and ¼ tsp. pepper to bowl with chicken. Mix ingredients together until fully combined. Taste, and add more yogurt if desired.
Plate the Dish
Place a lettuce cup on work surface (or layer two leaves for extra crunch and structural support). Fill with a few spoonfuls of chicken salad. Repeat for each lettuce cup. Arrange three or four assembled lettuce cups on a plate. Garnish with reserved apples, reserved dried cranberries, candied walnuts, and lemon zest.