Nobody doesn’t like chicken. Except vegetarians, of course. But of every meat eating person I’ve met and discussed cooking and recipes with, chicken dishes are prominent. And that’s not surprising.
Properly heated, chicken is tasty, tender, versatile, satisfying, filling, and oh, so easy to cook. It provides protein to meals from simple soups (cube, thinly slice, or shred chicken, add water or milk, a little butter, throw in some chopped veggies, and simmer with a bit of salt and pepper until meat is fully heated and veggies are softened.) to the complexities of barbecuing. (We all have our favorite BBQ ways, but you basically moisten meat with a sauce, get the barbie hot, and grill, seasoning and turning meat over and over as needed.)
Almost any part of the fowl can be the basis of a soup, stew, casserole, cookout, and salad, main or side dish. My favorite, for taste and tenderness and ease of handling, is the breast of chicken.
Here are three not-the-usual chicken breast recipes that are quick and easy to make (don’t let the number of ingredients worry you. That’s not a cooking issue, it’s a gathering issue.)
Each recipe is so pleasing that they will show off your kitchen skills and impress your date if served for Valentine’s day. For a personal touch, add a green salad featuring strawberries cut in half, to look like red hearts.
SAUERKRAUT CHICKEN CASSEROLE
Sweet and sour add a piquant taste to this hearty dish
4 skinned, boned chicken breast halves
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 (14.5-ounce) can sauerkraut, drained
8 deli corned beef slices
8 (1-ounce) Swiss cheese slices
11/2 C Thousand Island dressing
1 C soft rye breadcrumbs
2 Tbls butter or margarine, melted
1 tsp EACH dill weed and parsley flakes
Lightly grease a 13×9-inch baking dish. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper and place in baking dish.
Layer the chicken evenly with sauerkraut, corned beef, and Swiss cheese. Pour dressing over the top.
Combine breadcrumbs, butter and parsley and sprinkle over the casserole. Bake at 350° for 35 minutes or until golden and bubbly. Serves 4.
BACON CHEDDAR CHICKEN
More proof that bacon makes everything better
6 slices bacon, chopped
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 5 oz each)
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp ground pepper
1C shredded sharp Cheddar cheese (4 oz)
Heat a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add bacon and cook 7 to 9 minutes, stirring frequently, until crisp. Line a plate with a paper towel. Use a slotted spoon to move the cooked bacon to paper towel-lined plate; set aside to drain. Drain and discard all but 1 tablespoon of drippings from the skillet.
Rub the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat the skillet with the reserved drippings over medium heat. Add chicken; cook uncovered 14 to 16 minutes, turning once, until the juice of the chicken is clear when the center of the thickest part is cut (at least 165°F). Remove from heat and top each breast with 1/4 C cheese. Cover skillet and let stand 4 to 5 minutes or until the cheese melts. Top with the cooked bacon, either whole or crumbled, and serve. Makes 4 meals.
Tip: To add a spicy taste, substitute shredded pepper Jack cheese for the sharp Cheddar.
HONEY GARLIC CHICKEN
Seasonings are the stars in this 30-min-to-table recipe
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 C flour
1 Tbls cornstarch
1 tsp baking powder
Salt and pepper to taste
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp sage
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp ground cayenne
1 egg, beaten
1 Tbls water
1 tsp garlic, minced
1/2 tsp ginger, minced
4 Tbls honey
2 Tbls soy sauce
Wrap the chicken breasts loosely in plastic wrap and pound into 1/2″ thickness with a meat mallet. In a small or medium bowl, combine flour, cornstarch, baking powder, salt and pepper to taste, nutmeg, thyme, sage, paprika and cayenne and stir to mix. In a separate, large bowl, combine egg and water for the egg wash by stirring with a fork or whisk.
Dredge the chicken in the flour mixture. Follow with a dip in the egg wash and a final dredge of the flour mixture, coating the chicken thoroughly.
Over medium heat, pan-fry the chicken in just enough oil to cover the entire skillet bottom and cook until the crust is golden brown, about 3-5 minutes per side. Drain on paper towels
In a separate pan, over medium high heat, sauté the garlic and ginger until fragrant and softened slightly. Add honey and soy sauce and bring to a simmer, about 2 minutes. Serve the chicken hot with honey garlic sauce on the side. Serves four.
Tip: Missing a seasoning or two? Never mind. Add a pinch more of what you do have or consider adding a teaspoon of red wine or red wine vinegar, to taste.
— by Jean Redstone