Cheap Eats:
Anniversary Chicken
& Salmon Mousse

Last year Cheap Eats celebrated St. Andrews Day, and the year before, Thanksgiving. This November, we celebrate something that hits a little closer to home — my home, that is. November is the anniversary of my parents’ marriage.

Several years ago, I threw a party for my parents’ 40th wedding anniversary. Few people make it to this milestone without accumulating a few health concerns, and I wanted to take make sure the party was festive but not fatal, so I created the two, heart-healthy dishes below in honor of mom and dad. For starters, I served crudités with a garlicky, non-fat yogurt dip, and the salmon mousse. Dinner included Anniversary Chicken, rice with browned onions, and wild-greens salad. Dessert was a liqueur-laced, spiced fruit compote over non-fat ice cream. Champagne was served with every course.

Anniversary Chicken is not only low in fat, but is also low in sodium. You can add salt if you wish, but I find that it is sufficiently flavorful to not need it. Also, I originally used capon in this recipe — not cheap, but perhaps worth it if you’re giving a party. If you use a capon, or any bird larger than the 3½ fowl indicated here, increase the amount of fruit accordingly. For the white wine in the recipe, I recommend something full-bodied, like a Chardonnay or White Burgundy.

The mousse is not as light in texture, as smooth and elegant as those which use the traditional heavy cream and mayonnaise — but you’ll live longer. You can use a fancy mold if you have it, but a simple bowl that holds around 6 cups will work, too, if that’s all you have. Despite its name, buttermilk contains no butter. It is a cultured milk product, is low in fat, and contributes a flavor similar to sour cream wherever you use it.

Anniversary Chicken

3½ lb. chicken

1 cup white wine

dried apricots

pitted prunes

3 Tbs. apricot preserves

The ratio of apricots to prunes is 5 apricots to each prune. (This turns out to be about 20 apricots and 4 prunes for this size chicken.) Put the fruit in a bowl with the wine, and let it sit for one and a half hours or more. Then stuff the chicken with the fruit (don’t forget the neck cavity), reserving the wine from soaking.

Preheat oven to 450°.

Mix 2 Tbs. of the reserved wine with the apricot preserves. Pour the rest of the wine into the bottom of a roasting pan, then place the chicken in the pan. Coat all visible parts of the chicken with the wine/preserves mixture. Cover with lid or foil, and place in oven. Immediately reduce heat to 350°.

Roast bird for approximately 20 minutes per pound (so 1 hour 10 min. for our 3½ lb. fowl). Take the cover off the chicken about 25 minutes before it is done, so that it can brown. Baste two or three times during this final stage.

When chicken is done (juice will run clear when chicken is stabbed), remove it from the pan and put it on a serving platter. Remove the fruit, and place it around the chicken on the platter. Skim any excess fat from the liquids in the pan, then pour gravy into a gravy boat or small pitcher, and serve with chicken. (If you are serving this cold — and it is good cold, as well — you can slice the chicken, put the fruit around it, and drizzle the sauce, which will have become quite thick as it has chilled, down the middle of the sliced chicken.)

Salmon Mousse

1 envelope unflavored gelatin

¼ cup cold water

½ cup boiling water

½ cup firm tofu

1 Tbs. grey poupon mustard

1 Tbs. balsamic vinegar

1 Tbs. lemon juice

2 Tbs. finely grated onion

dash of red pepper sauce/Tabasco

¼ tsp. sweet paprika

½ tsp. salt

2 tsp. dried dill weed

2 cups crumbled canned salmon, bones and skin removed

1 cup buttermilk

Soften the gelatin in the cold water in a large mixing bowl. Stir in the boiling water and whisk the mixture slowly until the gelatin dissolves. Cool to room temperature.

Place all other ingredients in a food processor or blender and process until smooth. If the mixture becomes too thick to move, you can add some of the cooled gelatin/water mixture. Then pour the blended mixture into the gelatin in the bowl, and whisk to combine thoroughly.

Spray the inside or your 6-cup bowl/mold with a cooking spray (like Pam), to keep the mousse from sticking. Pour the mixture into the bowl/mold, and cover with foil. Place in the refrigerator and chill for 4 hours or more.

Unmold the mousse onto a plate (put a plate on top of the bowl, then flip bowl and plate over together — if mousse doesn’t drop, dip bowl in warm water, then try again). Decorate with pretty lettuce (bib or red leaf or the like) and serve with melba toast, rye rounds, or crackers.


You can make this with canned tuna, too. Poached salmon gives this a more delicate flavor than the canned does. Be aware that many brands of canned salmon are packaged with skin and bones still attached, so you may need two cans to get the full two cups needed for the recipe — and you need to be careful to get rid of the bones and skin. Also, something not everyone remembers — when you use a can-opener on a can of fish, wash the can-opener.

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