Home Food The Shabbat table: Fowl play

The Shabbat table: Fowl play

Matzah Ball Soup (David Aferiat/CC BY 2.0)

Good Shabbos, Shabbat Shalom! Spring is here, the snow has disappeared and the weather is finally warming up. It’s the start of baseball season, so if you’re in the mood for “fowl” fare, here are some simply delicious recipes for Shabbat that feature chicken. These recipes are quick and easy, leaving you more time to spend outside and enjoy the warmer weather.

Homemade Chicken Soup

Chicken soup for the bowl – there’s nothing better! For easy cleanup, I like to use soup socks.

  • 3½-4 lb cut-up chicken
  • 10 cups cold water (approximately)
  • 4 tsp salt
  • 2 medium onions, peeled
  • 4-6 carrots, peeled, cut in halves or thirds (or use baby carrots – no cutting required)
  • 3-4 celery stalks, cut in halves or thirds
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 bunch fresh dill
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • Cooked noodles, rice or matzo balls

Trim excess fat from chicken, but don’t remove the skin, as it adds flavour. Place chicken in a large soup pot (see  instructions on using a soup sock below). Add water, covering chicken completely by at least 1 inch. Add salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Use a slotted spoon to remove scum from surface of soup.

Add onions, carrots and celery to soup pot. Reduce heat and simmer, partly covered, for 1¼ hours. Add garlic and dill and simmer 15 minutes longer. Adjust salt to taste. Season with freshly ground pepper. Remove pot from heat and cool completely.

Strain soup, reserving carrots and chicken. Refrigerate overnight.

The next day, discard hardened layer of fat from surface of soup. Remove skin from chicken and dice meat for soup.

Reheat soup with diced chicken and carrots. Serve with cooked noodles, rice or matzo balls.

Yield: 8 generous servings. Freezes and reheats well.

Pro tip: For easy cleanup, I like to use soup socks. They allow you to make a clear chicken soup quickly, efficiently and easily. Simply fill one mesh soup sock with the chicken pieces and fill a second one with the onions, carrots, celery, garlic and dill. When the soup is done, remove soup socks from the pot. It’s that easy.

Cajun Chicken Breasts

Adapted from Healthy Helpings (Whitecap Books)

This dish is simply fantastic and so versatile. Best of all, this recipe multiplies easily if you’re hosting a big crowd.

  • 4 boneless, skinless single chicken breasts
  • 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed

Rinse chicken and pat dry. Trim off excess fat. Combine oil, lemon juice, seasonings and garlic in a mixing bowl. Add chicken and marinate for an hour at room temperature, or up to 24 hours covered in the refrigerator.

Preheat oven to 400 F. Remove chicken from marinade and arrange in a single layer on a foil-lined baking sheet. Pour marinade over and around chicken.

Bake uncovered for 20 minutes, turning chicken pieces over at half time. Baste occasionally with pan juices. When done, chicken will be springy when lightly touched.

Yield: 4 servings.

Pro tip: Marinate a batch of chicken breasts, then freeze in meal-sized packages for up to a month. (Never do this with chicken that was previously frozen, then defrosted.) When needed, thaw chicken overnight in the refrigerator (or in the microwave), then cook as directed.

Grilled Cajun Chicken Breasts: Preheat barbecue or broiler. Marinate chicken as directed. Remove from marinade and pat dry. Grill or broil over medium to medium-high heat about 5 to 7 minutes on each side. Baste chicken frequently with marinade; don’t overcook. Cooking time on the barbecue will be shorter than under the broiler because of the higher, direct heat. Cook chicken over heat, not flame, to prevent flare-ups!

Cheater Chicken

Here’s an easy way to jazz up prepared barbecue chickens from the supermarket.

  • Several precooked barbecue chickens
  • 1/2 bottle of barbecue sauce
  • 1/2 jar of garlic spare rib sauce

Buy several prepared barbecued chickens at your supermarket – each chicken will serve 4 hungry guests.

Cut each chicken into serving pieces and arrange in a large casserole that has been sprayed with nonstick spray.

Combine 1/2 jar of bottled barbecue sauce and 1/2 jar of garlic spare rib sauce (or combine 2 or 3 varieties of your favourite bottled sauces). You will need about 1/2 cup sauce for each chicken. Mix well and pour over chicken pieces.

Bake uncovered at 350 F for 25 to 30 minutes, basting occasionally.

Chicken Yum-Yum

Adapted from Norene’s Healthy Kitchen (Whitecap Books)

The name says it all. This delicious dish can be doubled easily and works equally well with chicken breasts or legs. Your guests will agree that this dish is yum-yum, not ho-hum.

  • 1 whole chicken (4 lb/1.8 kg), cut into pieces
  • 2 cloves garlic (about 2 tsp minced)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar or granular Splenda
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice (preferably fresh)
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce (low-sodium or regular)
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil

Preheat the oven to 400 F. Rinse the chicken well and pat dry with paper towels. Trim the excess fat. Arrange the chicken in a single layer in a sprayed 9×13-inch casserole dish. Rub with garlic and lightly sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Scatter onions around the chicken.

In a small bowl, combine the ketchup, brown sugar, lemon juice, soy sauce and dried basil; mix well. Spoon the mixture over the chicken pieces and spread evenly. (If desired, the chicken can be prepared in advance up to this point and refrigerated for as long as 2 days.)

Roast the chicken, uncovered, basting occasionally, for about 1 hour. Juices should run clear when the chicken is pierced with a fork.

Yield: 8 servings. Recipe doubles or triples easily. Keeps for up to 2 to 3 days in the refrigerator; reheats well. Freezes well for up to 4 months.

The Naked Truth: For maximum flavor without the guilt, leave the skin on the chicken and cook it a day ahead, according to the instructions above. When the fully baked chicken is cool, cover, and refrigerate overnight. About 20 minutes before serving, remove any congealed fat, cover, and reheat. Remove the skin from the chicken before you eat it. (That’s the way I like to make this dish!)


Norene Gilletz is the leading author of kosher cookbooks in Canada. She is a food writer, food manufacturer, consultant, spokesperson, cooking instructor, lecturer, cookbook editor and now a podcaster. Norene lives in Toronto and her motto is “Food that’s good for you should taste good!” For more information, visit her website at gourmania.com..