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Thursday, November 27, 2014

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Chicken dishes are easy and creative

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Most everyone likes chicken. It’s economical, readily available and is the go-to food when you don’t know what else to make. You can roast it whole, broil it, boil it and even bake it with the skin on or off.

However, taking the skin off and getting rid of the bones does tend to make it more versatile.  The skin and the fat attached to it are where most of the calories seem to be hiding so I tend to suggest going right to the boneless, skinless breasts or thighs.

“Chicken creative” is easy when you have the main ingredient already prepped and since the boneless and skinless breasts and thighs seem to go on sale every few weeks I say stock up when they’re cheap and freeze them in packs of four breasts or eight thighs until you need them.

The following recipes run the gamut from super easy to “what the heck is Herb de Provence”. Whichever one you decide to try, I can promise they won’t resemble any chicken dish you’ve ever had before.

 

SPICED APPLE CHICKEN

 

2 apples, McIntosh, Granny Smith or Braeburn, peeled and thinly sliced

1 tbsp. lemon juice

1/4 tsp. cinnamon

3 tsp. olive oil, divided

3 tsp. margarine, divided

1-1/8 tsp. herbs de Provence, divided

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. black pepper

1-1/2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed and pounded to ½-in. thick

1 cup chicken broth

1 tsp. lemon zest

 

In a bowl, combine the apple slices with the lemon juice and cinnamon. Toss to coat and set aside.  In a skillet, heat 1 tsp. oil and 1 tsp. margarine. Add the apple mixture and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 5 minutes. Remove the apple mixture from the pan (don’t clean the pan, you’ll need it shortly) and set the apple mixture aside. 

 In a bowl, combine 1 tsp. herbs de Provence, salt, and pepper.  Sprinkle the mixture on both sides of the chicken. Heat 1 tsp. oil and 1 tsp. margarine in the skillet. Add half the chicken and cook until no longer pink in the centre, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Remove to a platter and keep warm. Add the remaining 1 tsp. oil and 1 tsp. margarine to the pan; heat over high heat. Cook the remaining chicken in the same manner. When done place it on the platter with the other cooked chicken. Don’t clean the pan. Add the broth, lemon zest and the remaining 1/8 tsp. herbs to the pan. Cook, stirring until slightly reduced, about 3 minutes. Spoon the sauce over the chicken and serve with the sautéed apples.

 

Modified from foodandwine.com

 

Herbs de Provence is usually available at most grocery stores but to make your own, mix together 1 tbsp. each (or equal proportions) dried thyme, rosemary, oregano, marjoram. You can store it in a glass jar or container with a lid.

 

SPICED PECAN CHICKEN

 

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, flattened

1 cup pecan halves

1/2 cup toasted breadcrumbs

1-1/2 tsp. grated orange zest

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. ground chipotle pepper

1 egg, beaten

1 tbsp. orange juice

4 tbsp. oil

 

In the bowl of a food processor, combine pecans, breadcrumbs, orange zest, salt and ground chipotle and process until the mixture is completely combined. Place the mixture on a plate. In a bowl, combine the egg and orange juice and whisk to combine. Dip each chicken breast into the egg mixture then dredge both sides in the pecan mixture.

Heat 2 tbsp. of the oil in a skillet and cook 2 of the coated chicken breasts for about 3 to 4 minutes on each side. When done place them on a serving plate, cover and repeat the process with the remaining oil and chicken. Serve immediately. Serves 4. This recipe can be doubled or tripled.

 

Submitted by Raquel Montvesto, Chicago, Ill.

 

SESAME & BROCCOLI CHICKEN  

 

1 pound skinless, boneless chicken thighs cut into 1-inch pieces

salt and freshly ground pepper

flour, for dusting

1/4 cup sesame seeds

1/4 cup oil

2 tbsp. minced fresh ginger

1 large garlic clove, minced

1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper

1-1/2 cups chicken broth

1 lb. broccoli (stems peeled and cut into 1/4-in.-thick rounds, tops cut into florets)

3 tbsp.soy sauce

1/2 tsp. sesame oil

steamed rice, for serving

 

Preheat the oven to 350. In a large bowl, season the chicken with salt and pepper, and toss with flour to coat thoroughly. Let the chicken stand for a few minutes, until the coating gets soggy. Pour 3 tbsp. of the oil over the chicken and toss to coat, then coat the chicken with the sesame seeds.

In a large nonstick skillet, heat the remaining 1 tbsp. of oil. Add the chicken in an even layer and cook, (don’t move it), until browned on the bottom, about 3 minutes. Turn the chicken and cook until browned on the second side, about 2 minutes. With tongs, transfer the chicken to a rimmed baking sheet and put it in the oven while you finish the dish.

In the oil remaining in the skillet, cook the ginger, garlic and crushed red pepper over moderately high heat until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the chicken broth and boil over high heat until reduced by half, about 4 minutes. Add the broccoli, cover and cook until bright green and crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Stir in the soy sauce, season with salt and remove from the heat. Gently stir in the chicken and sesame oil and serve with steamed rice.

 

Modified from recipeoftheday.com (Oct. 2010)

 

CROCK POT CHICKEN STEW

 

2 tbsp. oil

4 chicken thighs

4 chicken drumsticks

3/4 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. black pepper

1 tbsp. flour

1 cup apple cider

1-1/2 cups chicken broth

1 onion, cut into thin slices

1 lb. parsnips cut into 1-inch pieces

2 carrots cut into 1-inch pieces

3 potatoes cut into 1-inch pieces

1/2 tsp. dried thyme

 

Place the oil in a skillet and heat to high. Season the chicken thighs and drumsticks with 1/4 tsp. of the salt and the pepper. Sear the outside of the chicken until browned, turning, about 8 minutes in all.

Place the chicken in the crock pot. Pour off all but 1 tbsp. of the fat from skillet. Reduce the heat to moderate and stir in the flour. Whisk in the cider and the broth and bring to a simmer, scraping the bottom of the pan to dislodge any brown bits.

Pour the mixture over the chicken in the crock pot. Add the onion, potato, parsnips, carrots, thyme, and the remaining 1/2 tsp. of salt to the crock pot. Cover and cook on high for about 2 hours, until the chicken is done. (Can also do this in the oven in a covered roasting pan and cook for about 45 minutes to an hour).

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