Chicken!

June 17th, 2011 § 0 comments

At dinner with friends last night the subject of easy chicken meals arose. Although I don’t cook chicken very often, I do have a surplus of good poultry recipes. While these dishes do require more than three ingredients and take longer than 30 minutes to prepare, they’re definitely worth the extra effort to make.

As for cooking tips, I would advise using local, humanely raised, truly free-range chicken. Chances are that, if you buy locally, you can see how your chicken lived, what it ate and, ultimately, what you’re eating. Plus, you’ll find that chickens allowed to roam about freely in grass pastures taste better and are more healthful for you. Needless to say, it’s more healthful for them, too.

Jumping off my soapbox, I’ll add that you should always cook chicken to a minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Insert a digital meat thermometer in the thickest part of the chicken to determine if it’s done.

VINEGARY CHICKEN
Note: If you don’t have white wine on hand, substitute 1/3 cup water and 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar for it.
Serves 4

1 1/2 white onions, diced
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
salt, to taste
ground black pepper, to taste
handful of fresh basil, washed and minced
handful of fresh parsley, washed and minced
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
juice of 1 lemon
3/4 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup dry white wine (See headnote for substitutions)
3 large, ripe tomatoes, washed and diced
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
ground white pepper, to taste

Heat the oil in a Dutch Oven or large saute pan. Add the onion, sprinkle the salt over it and saute until soft and slightly translucent, about 5 minutes. Arrange the chicken breasts over the onion and sprinkle salt, pepper, minced basil and minced parsley over the chicken.

Mix together the chicken stock, wine, vinegars and lemon then pour into the pan. Bring liquids to a boil then cover and simmer gently for about 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, seed and chop the tomatoes. Place tomatoes in a bowl, add the olive oil and white pepper and mix together.

Remove the lid from the pan and check the chicken. If it’s finished cooking, remove the breasts and place them in a shallow serving bowl. If not, leave them in the pan and allow all the ingredients to simmer for another 15 minutes, until the sauce has thickened. If you haven’t already, place the chicken breasts in a large, shallow bowl. Pour in the onions and sauce. Ladle the tomatoes over the chicken and serve immediately with a side of couscous.

CHICKEN SOUVLAKI
Serves 4

1 ½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch cubes
¼ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
2 teaspoons oregano
tzatziki, for serving
4 individual pitas, optional
2 tomatoes, sliced, optional

For the tzatziki
8 ounces plain yogurt, excess water drained
½ cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
1 clove garlic, grated
¼ teaspoon dried mint
dash of salt

Mix together the olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper and oregano in a small bowl. Place the chicken cubes in a medium-sized bowl and pour the marinade over top. Cover the bowl, place it in the refrigerator and allow the chicken to marinate for 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl whisk together the yogurt, cucumber, garlic, dried mint and salt and refrigerate the tzatziki.

Preheat the grill.

Using metal skewers, insert the cubes of chicken lengthwise on each skewer, leaving a little room between each chunk of meat. Place the skewers on the hot grill and cook for approximately 5 to 10 minutes or until chicken is completely cooked. Remove the skewers from the grill and place on a platter. Serve immediately with a side of tzatziki sauce and optional pita and tomato.

CHICKEN AND MUSHROOM PUFF PIE
Serves 6

1½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 cups chicken stock
¾ cup low fat milk
¼ cup chicken stock
3 tablespoons flour
2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
½ cup pearl onions, peeled and halved
8 ounces cremini mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
2 tablespoons butter
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
1 sheet puff pastry

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. If using frozen puff pastry, unfold and defrost one sheet of pastry.

In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, poach the chicken in 2 cups of stock. Strain the poaching liquid, add the milk, extra ¼ cup stock and flour. Whisk together and then set aside. Allow the chicken to cool before cutting it into small cubes or pieces.

In a large frying pan or Dutch oven, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the carrots, onions and mushrooms and cook until softened. Pour in the liquid and the cubed chicken and stir the ingredients together. Add the nutmeg, salt and pepper, stir and allow the filling to cook for 5 to 10 minutes.

Place the puff pastry on a cutting board. Using a pie pan as your guide, trim the pastry so that it fits over the pan. Once the pastry is trimmed, butter the bottom and sides of pan. Spoon the heated chicken and mushroom filling into the pan. Lay the pastry over the top of the filling. Bake at 350 degrees for roughly 20 minutes or until the pastry has puffed up and turned a golden brown. Serve immediately.

TARRAGON CHICKEN SALAD
From Gourmet Magazine June 2003
Serves 6

4 cups cubed (½ inch) cooked chicken (about 1¾ lb)
1 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
1 celery rib, cut into ¼-inch-thick slices (1 cup)
2 tablespoons finely chopped shallot
2 cups halved seedless green grapes
¾ cup mayonnaise
3 tablespoons tarragon vinegar
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh tarragon
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
12 slices of whole grain bread

Toss together all ingredients in a large bowl until combined well. Serve between slices of whole grain bread.

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