Tag Archives: poultry

Chicken Provençal

I was in the mood for something new, yet still familiar, which is a weird mood to be in. The foods in which I was regularly acquainted weren’t good enough, but anything new that seemed too exotic were also quickly dismissed. This is a mood best described as “picky” or “annoying as hell”. Picture the following:

Inner voice: How about puttanesca?

Me (whiny): Nnnnnoooo. We just had that last week.

IV: Pork Chops

Me: Ugh. No.

IV: You could make something Spanish.

Me: What are you, high?

IV: That’s it, I’m outta here.

Isn’t it always the case? Just when you discover that the world is your oyster, you find yourself tired of shellfish.

Luckily I came across this Cook’s Illustrated recipe, which shut down the urge to be a pain in the ass to anyone who suggested a dish to try. It’s new, at least to me, as I have never tried to make it before. But yet it’s similar enough to chicken cacciatore, that I knew what to expect when all was said and done.

This is one of those dishes that one might be tempted to replace the water with chicken stock. Resist this temptation at all cost! There is enough flavor from the onions, tomatoes, and pancetta, that any flavor the stock might bring will be overwhelmed.

  • 8 Chicken thighs
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 oz. pancetta, diced
  • 1 large white onion, diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. All-purpose Flour
  • 1/2 cup dry vermouth
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1/2 cup niçoise olives, pitted and chopped
  • 1/4 cup basil, minced

Salt and Pepper the chicken thighs to taste. Set aside.

In a Dutch Oven or large stock pot, cook the pancetta over medium heat until crispy, roughly 5 minutes or so. Remove the pancetta from the pan, but leave the residual grease. Place in the chicken thighs, skin side down, and turn up the heat to high. Fry until golden brown, roughly six to eight minutes. Turn over chicken with tongs and allow to cook for three minutes on the non-skin side of the thighs. Remove the pot from heat, and transfer the chicken to plate to cool. Remove all but 2 Tablespoons of the remaining fat.

Add the onion and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Place over medium heat and cook until the onions just start to become translucent. Meanwhile, scrap any of the remaining brown fronds from the chicken and pancetta off of the bottom of the pan and mix into the onions. Add in the garlic and flour, and cook for one minute. Add the vermouth, water, and tomatoes.

Remove the skin from the chicken. Place the chicken into the stew, and add the pancetta. Bring to a simmer (185 degrees F). Cover, and lower the heat to medium low. Cook for 30 minutes, turning over the chicken at the fifteen minute point. After the 30 minutes, add the olives and cook for five more minutes. Remove the chicken and place on a serving dish. Add the basil to the braising liquid. Ladle over the chicken and serve.

Serves 4

It’s Bad Day to want a Chicken Burrito

It’s probably not a great idea to eat at Taco Bell in the Long Island/new Jersey area. Meanwhile, Taco Bell executives will re-open any closed locations later today, having the stores “thoroughly cleaned and all food replaced”. This, even though no one knows what caused the outbreak, including the fact that it may not be the individual restaurants at fault but the food distributors that supply the sites. Unless the distributors have thoroughly cleaned their sites and replaced all the food there’s still the chance that the tainted food is still in the pipeline.

But if you’re hankering for chicken burritos, buying poultry at the supermarket seems like a bad idea as well.


Technorati Tags: E.Coli, Taco Bell, Chicken

Chicken Piccata

chicken piccata

My guess is that Chicken Piccata comes from the Southern regions of Italy. Lemons and meat sounds an awful lot like a Greek tradition, and where did the Greeks have a great amount of influence in Italy? That’d be the southern parts.

This is an easily made dish, and takes nearly no time to set up.

  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 4 Chicken Breasts, manually tenderized (i.e. by smacking it with a mallet until flatten)
  • 1 1/2 cups All Purpose Flour
  • 1/3 onion, diced
  • 2/3 cup chicken stock
  • 1/3 cup white wine
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
  • Juice from one Lemon
  • 2 Tablespoons capers, drained
  • 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter

Pre-heat your oven to 200 degrees F. Place a baking dish of some sort within the oven.

Place a large skillet over medium – medium/high heat. Add the olive oil and butter, allowing them to swirl together.

Lightly coat each chicken breast with flour and place into the heated oil. Cook from 4-5 minutes on each side. Place the cooked chicken fillet in the baking dish in the oven.

Remove all but one tablespoon of any left over oil/fat within the skillet. Add the onions and cook for 2 minutes. Add the chicken stock and white wine and bring to a boil. Add the lemon juice and the capers. Boil the sauce until it’s approximately 1/3rd it’s initial volume. Remove from heat and immediately add the butter and whisk in.

Serve the chicken breasts and top with the sauce.

Serves 4

Technorati Tags: Recipes, Chicken+Piccata

Chicken Hints Tips

Some various Chicken Tips and Hints –

  • One whole chicken converts to approximately 1 cup of cooked meat per pound
  • Younger chickens = more tender; older chickens = more flavor
  • In boneless chicken, because chicken will loose weight after cooking, buy an additional ounce for every four ounce serving you would like to end up with. For example, if you want to end up with an eight ounce boneless breast, you would buy a 10 ounce breast. For chicken with the bone in, buy an extra 3 ounces.
  • Store chicken in the refrigerator for for no more than two days after purchase. If you don’t plan to eat the chicken within a day or two after purchase, freeze it in it’s original package. This will reduce any bacterial risk.
  • Thaw frozen chicken in the refrigerator in a baking dish or plate. This will reduce any harmful bacteria from forming, retain it’s moisture, and catch any melted liquid.
  • To thaw frozen chicken quickly, leave the chicken in it’s packaging and place in a bowl of water while in the refrigerator.
  • Avoid storing raw chicken next to food you plan on eating raw.
  • Wash your hands, cutting board, knives and anything else that has come into contact with raw chicken, with soap, before handling any other foods.
  • Kitchen shears are a more effective way of cutting through raw chicken skin and bones.
  • To tenderize a boneless breast, lightly oil the breast and place between two sheets of plastic wrap. Using a broad faced meat mallet, hit at the thickest part of the meat and work outwards. Use less force when hitting thinner sections of the meat.
  • To cook breasts evenly, have the thicker parts of the meat in the center of the pan, and the tapered ends of the chicken pointing at the edges.
  • In a bone-in chicken, 1/2 lb = 1 serving. In a boneless chicken, 1/4 – 1/3 lb – 1 serving.
  • To prevent shrinkage in boneless chicken breasts, remove the visible white tendon prior to cooking.
  • To evenly cook mixed chicken pieces, add the wings and drumsticks halfway through the cooking time of the breasts and things.
  • To get a crisp skin on a roast chicken, baste periodically with butter.
  • To reduce the calories in the chicken, remove the skin. This will typically cut calories down by as much as 50%.
  • To remove the skin, grab the skin with a paper towel and pull firmly.
  • To test the chicken for doneness without a thermometer, pierce the chicken with a fork. If the juices run clear, it’s done. If they run pink, it needs more time to cook.

What is Free Range Chicken?

Free-Range has two definitions in the United States of America, both of which are used by various poultry farmers.

Its premise is that animals should not be kept in pens or cages throughout the duration of their lives, and should be allowed to…well…behave like animals. What this means is that cows should be allowed to graze in pastures and chickens should be allowed walk around unfettered by cages. So first and foremost, it’s a farming philosophy that is advocated by some.

The second definition is a legal one, a “requirement” that must be applied to the chicken. It differs from country to country, but here in the United States it says that if meat has been labeled free range, then it means that “Livestock or poultry has been allowed access to the outside”(You’ll need to scroll down to the appropriate definition).

However (and there’s always a “however”), some poultry producers intepret the above in different ways. Some apply the standard exactly the same way as the philosophy intends.

But as Michael Pollans found out in “The Omnivore’s Dillema” while researching orgnaic chicken, some producers apply the legal definition of “free range” while ignoring the spirit of the law. What this means is that during the chickens life-span, they live in large buildings with doors that the poultry managers hope never are used.

About the “free-range” moniker – no other criteria are covered by this term. The food the birds eat, the size of the range, the number of birds raised together, or the space allowed to each bird are NOT covered by the “free-range”. If a poultry company wishes to apply “free range” to their lable, the must show that their birds have access to the outdoors. That’s it.

Even more interesting is the fact that there is no legal definition of the term “free range” when applied to eggs. What that means is that “free range eggs” may have a philosophical definition, but there is no governing body to which any requirements can be judged. Something to keep in mind when looking at eggs.

Technorati Tags: Food, Chicken, Free Range, USDA

Chicken Time

As we sally forth beyond the citrus groups (to which I will return at a later time, as I would prefer that my reading and updating is not “all citrus, all the time”), I’d like now to discuss “the” white meat. Of course, I am talking about chicken.

The domestication of what we term “chicken” began probably around 4,000 years ago. I say “probably”, because there’s very little specific evidence stating as such. However, Darwin himself mused that the Red Junglefowl of the areas between eastern India and Java was the likely ancestor to today’s Rhode Island Red. However, there is archeological evidence pointing to fowl domestication in China, circa 6000 to 4000 BC. It seems that the initial domestication was unlikely to have occured there, and most folks suspect areas of Cambodia and Thailand as the most likely of candidates, and the Chinese picked up on the meme.

Adding to the difficulty of pinpointing to the when and where of chicken domestication is the idea that the fowl was most likely a scavenger to man, survivinh off of the seeds of a garden or the maggots found in cattle droppings. What this most likely means is that they chose to be domesticated by us, rather than us deciding to domesticate them. How’s that for a biological imperative? Fowls evolving into domestication in order to ensure that their species survives.

They also have this tendancy to breed like rabbits, offering a continuing supply food to those lucky enough to house both roosters and hens. Not being a farm person myself, I won’t pursue this line too much further, but eggs also come into play here at this point. Suffice to say that I have yet to read up on the mating habits of birds, but yet I think I shall need to.

In the course of writing about chicken, not only will I have opportunity to throw out several recipes, it also gives me the opportunity to discuss various chicken type topics, including “Free-Range” chicken, the shenanigans of the Perdue and Tyson companies, Avian flu, and yes, even how we get chicken eggs.

Technorati Tags: Food, Chicken

Chicken Parmesan

Instead of calling this dish “pollo di parmigiano” or “pollo con parmigiano” or any other permutations that my crappy language skills can foster, I instead have decided to entitle this dish with the better known “chicken parmesan” sobriquet. The reason is that my elite research skills, also known as “google” and looking in a few Italian cookbooks, cannot find an appropriate recipe that is similar to the one below.

That’s not to say that this dish doesn’t exist in Italy as it probably does, I just don’t think it orginated in Parma. If I were to foster a guess, the recipe is an US immigrated Southern Italian take of what they recalled Northern Italy food to be, and using a much cheaper chicken fillet instead of a veal cutlet (which Parma most certainly had a breaded version). Of course my Italian food knowledge is only slightly better than the folks at Chef Boy-ar-dee, and that isn’t saying all that much.

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus 3 tablespoons
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 (28-ounce) cans diced tomatoes
  • 3 Tablespoons Tomato Paste
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 bunch fresh basil leaves
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 4 skinless, boneless, chicken breasts
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 cup dried bread crumbs
  • 3 Tablespoons chopped Italian Parsley
  • 8 oz mozzarella, sliced into 8 pieces
  • red pepper flakes, for garnish

Pre heat your oven to 350 degrees F.

Place a large skillet over medium heat and add 1/4 cup of the olive oil. Allow to heat for 5 minutes. Add the onions and garlic, and sweat them for about 8 minutes, until the become soft, but not yet translucent. Pour in the two cans of diced tomatoes, add the tomato paste, bay leaves, and 1/2 of the basil. Allow to cook for 15 minutes, by which time, the sauce will become thickened.

While the sauce is cooking put the chicken breasts on a cutting board and lay a piece of plastic wrap over them. Pound the chicken breasts with a flat meat mallet, until they are tenderized.

Put the flour in a shallow platter and season with a fair amount of salt and pepper; mix with a fork to distribute evenly. In a wide bowl, combine the eggs and water, beat until frothy. Put the bread crumbs on a plate, season with salt and pepper and combine with the Italian Parsley.

Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat in a large oven-proof skillet. Lightly dredge both sides of the chicken cutlets in the seasoned flour, and then dip them in the egg, coating completely. Then dredge in the bread crumbs. When the oil is nice and hot, add the cutlets and fry for 4 minutes on each side until golden and crusty, turning once. Remove the skillet from heat, but keep the fillets within.

By this time the sauce should be done. Ladle over the chicken fillets. Top each breast with two slices of Mozzarella. Place the skillet into the oven and allow to bake for 15 minutes.

Serve on pasta and garnish with remaining basil and red pepper flakes.

Serves 4

Technorati Tags: Recipes, Chicken, ChickenParmesan