Smoked Chicken Salad with Dried Cherries and Onions


4-1/2 cups diced smoked chicken

1-1/2 cups diced celery

2-1/4 cups diced sweet onions

2-1/4 cups chopped dried tart cherries

1-1/2 cups toasted pecan pieces

1/2 cup minced fresh basil

2 cups mayonnaise

3 tablespoons fresh orange juice

1 teaspoon fresh orange peel

3/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoon black pepper

Combine chicken, celery, onion, cherries, pecans, basil, mayonnaise, orange juice, orange peel, salt and pepper in a large mixing bowl; stir gently until combined. Refrigerate until ready to use. To prepare sandwiches: Place bread on work surface, spread 12 slices of bread with 1 tablespoon mayonnaise each. Spread other 12 slices with 3/4 cup(about 6 ounces) chicken salad per slice. Top chicken salad with bibb lettuce, close sandwiches; slice in half diagonally and serve.Makes 12 sandwiches; 9 cups (72 ounces) chicken salad.