Chicken


While this is no Asian Chicken Salad, and my guess is that housemate would have hated this salad, Josh and I adored it!

Just take a baby blend of dark green lettuces (not micro-green, just baby), a sweet apple, cranberries, and chicken sauteed with sea salt and paprika, and toss that together.

Next, your dressing. This is the most basic dressing ever! Take equal parts honey and vinegar and blend those together. Add a squirt more honey. Add a pinch or two (or three!) of cinnamon – you don’t want to be able to see or smell that the cinnamon is there, but there should be a faint hint of it in the taste of the dressing. So add accordingly.

Then, add your oil. Go with a flavorless oil, and try to use as little as humanly possible. A blender really helps for cutting down the oil you need to obtain the creaminess you desire.

You can toss with dressing beforehand, or for each plate assembly. Yum!

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I have heard of panko breadcrumb before. I have heard of it on the food network, I have heard of it all over blogland. The Japanese bread crumb, made to be a breadcrumb, not made from bread that was then crumbed. Or however you would say that. However, in my neck of the woods I’m lucky to find seasame seed oil, people. Coconut milk, we’ve got, and udon noodle, and a double handful of prepackaged sauces, at least half of which are only Asian in the American sense. However, when we went to a larger city, we stopped at a specialty food store to check out their wares. We weren’t thinking specifically of panko breadcrumb at the time, but they had it there, and we picked some up.

Now, obviously it looked different. The chunks were bigger. The crumbs looked nothing like crumbs at all, they actually looked like tiny shards of bread. They were definitely crisper, with a nice bite to them even raw. However, would they be as good as regular? Different can mean bad! An experiment, then: I would “waste” some of them on plain, boring chicken strips. We knew we liked these. We were familiar with them, and we could compare them to our favorites. Also, as further control, I would make some with regular, plain breadcrumb – just in case there was something in my technique that altered the way the chicken tenders tasted.

I picked up the precut tenders from the butcher section, since they were on sale and would save me a lot of work. I came home, rinsed them (can never be too careful!) and then proceeded to dip. All of them went first into plain flour and then for a short rest. (practical purposes, 1) to wash your hands and the board, and 2) the tenders are less squishy and gross that way) Then, all of them went into milk seasoned with ginger, salt, pepper, paprika, and chili powder. Then, finally, 1/2 of them went into the panko, and the other half went into the 75% breadcrumb/25%flour mixture I usually use in breading. normally I season in the breadcrumb mixture, but I wanted to be very sure that the exact proportions of seasoning were correct, and not somehow effected by the panko or breadcrumb dipping process. I would have put it in the first flour dip, but I had already dipped them in the flour and was letting them rest when I thought of not being able to season the breadcrumbs as per normal.

Anyway, so then I pan-fried them, 3-4 minutes on each side, depending on thickness. I served them with a peanut dipping sauce, in honor of the panko, though honey mustard was available for trial. We ended up not using it.

The panko were by far superior in crispness and they also cooked better. The plain breadcrumb variety were easy to either undercook (the breadcrumb never became crisp, not the chicken) or burn, whereas the panko very quickly came to a crisp, golden brown coating, but did not burn until well after the chicken was cooked through. Both tenders were very…well, tender, however, the panko were slightly juicier. The panko variety were also considerably less greasy in our first run.

In further tests on just the panko, I discovered that the heat must be quite high for them to cook properly, as they are very absorbent of oils at a low temperatures. This leads to a greasy, soggy coating that was quite abhorrent. Using less oil was also not an option, as then the panko breadcrumb did burn, and quickly. Use a very thin coating of oil, and keep the heat very high (350) for best results.

Yum!

This particular recipe is something I stole from my dad, mashed up until you can’t recognize it even a little (the only familiar ingredient is bone-in skin-on chicken breasts) and replated.

Turned out great!

The original recipe is sour cream stuffed chicken, and while it was good, it left a distinct “I am fat” feeling in its wake. I mean, you just ate a chicken breast that you ruined all nutritional value of with a 1/2 cup of sour cream. Per person. Eek!

These use less stuffing and more flavor, so you feel less fat and more full. First, buy some bone-in-skin-on chicken breasts. No cheating. Yes, the skin is on. You can take it off, if you’re that virtuous, but really, the amount of skin per breast isn’t very high, so it’s not that bad. Only eat half, save the rest for later, no big deal. Either way, you’ll be stuffing stuff under that skin, so you need it.

You’ll also need a small amount of ricotta cheese, garlic, your personal favorite blend of Italian seasonings, sea salt, and parmigianno reggiano. I like grating my own. I like grating cheese. I just do, okay?

Whoo. Personal oddities aside, clean out your chicken. Rinse it off, get rid of major fat deposits, but leave as much skin intact as possible. Also, if you can, select breasts where the skin is unbroken and still cleanly attached on one side. It makes stuffing much easier. Pat the chicken dry (hah! I just wipe and go. But if you’re looking for extra crispy skin, it does help). Mix sea salt and Italian seasonings in a bowl and pat the mixture all over the chicken. Or, you can do what I do and sprinkle both generously all over and pat down. Go you, you washed one less dish.

So, pull out a bowl (you really do have to this time) and put in 1 tablespoon of ricotta cheese per breast. Grate a healthy amount of cheese over the top (I would guess it was 1/2 tablespoon per?) and mix in 1 teaspoon finely minced garlic. If your guests aren’t garlic nuts, either puree the crap out of it and put in less, or leave it out altogether (boo!).

Stir all of that together and put 1-2 tablespoons in each breast. Roast at 450 for 15 minutes, and then drop the temperature down to 350 or so. Then, cook until the meat is 170 and the juices run clear.

Let the meat stand. LET THE MEAT STAND. I know it smells like heaven has come down upon your home to personally bless your chicken, but unless you like scalding hot ricotta spilling everywhere leave it be. It won’t explode, but it sure won’t be in your chicken either. 10 minutes should finish up the cooking.

Eat. Focaccia makes a great side, if you can eat carbs, and don’t forget your favorite Mediterranean veggie of choice.

So yesterday I trussed up a chicken thusly:

Purchase whole chicken. Rip everything out of cavities, throw away. I don’t eat neck, nor am I fond of chicken gravy. Bleeech.

Wash. Pat dry.

Peel 2 heads of garlic. If the cloves are large, cut them up into smaller bits. Stab a small hole into the chicken and slip a piece in. Repeat, until out of garlic.

Cut fresh rosemary into 1″ long branches. Repeat as with garlic.

Pat sea salt all over the skin of the bird. Also, when doing the garlic and stuff, remember that you will want to eat more than the breasts. Stick garlic and rosemary in the other parts, too.

Roast in crock on low for 8 hours. If you’re leaving it alone, put in 1.5 cups of water. Otherwise, put in 1/2 a cup at the beginning, 1/2 c at 2.5 hours, 1/2 c at 5 hours. You’ll get a drier skin that way.

Pull out the garlic pieces and rosemary branches before consuming. What’s leftover….well, recipes all week will include those! We had it with asparagus, even though the asparagus came from Guatemala or wherever.  Josh has been craving asparagus, so asparagus he gets!

It was really easy, tasted like I spent hours in the kitchen. Spent all of five minutes. Awesome.

Sunday night I made sesame chicken off the top of my head. It was pretty good!

I started by slicing chicken breasts into little fingers – half inch long strips like you always see on your lo mein or whatever. I sauteed that until it was basically done. On the side, I whisked together

1 tablespoon worchestershire sauce
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
2 tablespoons honey
1/3 cup mirin (Japanese rice wine)

Then blend in 1/3 c sesame oil while whisking. You now have something akin to a vinaigrette. I made 3x this much, and steamed some green beans with 1/3 of that. I put 1/2 of what was left (1 part) on the chicken to cook, and when that was done I put it to the side on the serving dish. Then, I took the last part of dressing and put it in the skillet the chicken had been in with 1 tablespoon of flour. I whisked this like mad until it came to a simmer and poured the sauce over the chicken.

Serve over rice.

A1 steak sauce has this line of marinades for fish. Do not be fooled, people – these are so good on chicken. Josh and I are huge fans of the mango chipotle marinade. I’ll take a number of chicken breasts appropriate to the appetites of the people eating, and chop into 1″ or smaller pieces, toss these in a bowl, and marinate in the mango chipotle for at least 2 hours.

Then I cook everything until the chicken is done and add 1 chopped up fuji apple, a handful of walnuts, and corn. It’s good. The whole thing works surprisingly well, despite the disparity of ingredients. Serve over plenty of rice, as it’s spicy.

Yum!

Okay, maybe that’s not true. But it’s close!

3 medium-size boneless skinless chicken breasts, boiled, chunked, and chilled
3 large spoonfuls of low fat Miracle Whip  (NOT mayo.)
1 tsp lemon juice
1/10th lb (1/4 c?) dried cranberries
1 medium-size Fuji apple, cored and diced
handful (2 tablespoons?) English walnuts

Mix in a lidded bowl (add a bit more miracle whip if it’s dry) and put on wheat bread or in a pita. Save the rest and have lunch for a while. Yum!

 Josh liked it – even had seconds! Normally, he hates the summertime version of this I do, which involves halved grapes and more lemon juice. I think it’s delicious, but this is more fall-feeling and just as tasty. It’s pretty healthy, all things considered. I mean, Miracle Whip isn’t the best, but you’re not getting that much per sandwich, and it’s tasty enough that you don’t need anything like cheese. It’s a trade-off, and it gives me a huge energy boost – that would be that apple talking. Great lunch food!

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