Using a large cookie sheet, set butter on pan and place in oven. Let butter melt as oven preheats.
Take cookie sheet out of oven and stir in nuts & rosemary. Sprinkle with salt.
Bake 8-10 minutes. Remove from oven, stir and set aside. This makes about 8 servings of nuts so you will have some left over.
While nuts are baking, heat oil in a large skillet. Season chicken breasts and place in hot pan, searing about 5-6 minutes per side. You want it the outside to be golden brown.
Add thyme sprigs and continue to cook for 2 minutes.
Pour in apple cider and bring to boil. Turn down heat and simmer for about 20 minutes or until chicken breasts are cooked through.
Remove chicken to plate and cover with foil.
Turn the heat back to medium high and boil cider until it is reduced by half, about 15 minutes. Stir in sugar or honey. Set aside and let cool.
To assemble salad:
Shred chicken and mix with chopped apples, celery, cranberries, rosemary and greens. Season with salt and pepper.
Toss with half of the apple cider mixture. Top with some of the rosemary pecans and chopped bacon, if desired.
Serve with remaining apple cider vinaigrette on side.
Note: Salad will be less caloric if not using all of the rosemary pecans.
Frequently Asked Questions About Apple Chicken Salad
Can I use rotisserie chicken instead of poaching the chicken?
Of course! If you’re short on time, use any precooked chicken. Then just boil cider down and add a few sprigs of thyme and sugar or honey to make the vinaigrette.You can also use leftover turkey after the holidays and add a touch of time for some real flavor.
Do I have to use pecans?
No, walnuts are a great substitute for the pecans. Don’t feel like flavoring them with rosemary? Just roast them coated with a little butter for the same length of time.
How can I change this salad up for variety?
Any fall fruit, vegetable or potatoes can be subbed in. I like to use the apples with the apple cider but pears will work too. You can also add roasted sweet potatoes, red grapes, green onion, pomegranate arils and pepitas.