By Beverly Barbour
Remember when chicken was only on Sunday?
When did chicken jump from being a very special treat to poor folk's food? Well maybe not really, really poor folks, but standard fare for those of us who watch our pennies and want the most bang for the cluck.
I, for one, have never met a cooked chicken that I didn't like. Some I like better than others, but there are so many ways of taking the bird and completely changing its appearance and taste that there are bound to be recipes to please every single person who has no objection to getting complete protein from some part of the bird.
It is hard to tell a breast from a thigh these days when most chickens sold commercially have been fed pretty much the same diet. This was not true when the chickens were out scratching in the dirt and grass looking for worms. It doesn't really matter that much because you can make a few flavorful passes over your cooking pot and make any bird delicious.
Sweet and Sour Chicken Thighs with Carrots
This is one of my husband's favorite recipes and you can really use any part, or all of the parts of the bird. The chicken is equally as good the next day served cold as it was served hot. Makes 4 to 6 servings.
8 small chicken thighs with skin and bone
Wash chicken and pat dry. Stir together 1 1/2 teaspoons salt with paprika, cinnamon, and pepper. Rub onto chicken. Heat oil in skillet until hot but not smoking. Brown chicken, turning over once, after about 10 minutes. Transfer chicken to a plate. Discard all but 3 tablespoons fat from skillet. Add onion and carrots; sprinkle with remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper. Cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened and beginning to brown. Add garlic and stir about 1 minute. Return chicken to skillet, skin sides up; nestle into vegetables. Stir together water, lemon juice and honey until blended and add to skillet. Cook over low heat, covered, until chicken is cooked through and carrots are tender, 25 to 30 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley and cilantro just before serving.
Chicken Provencal Style
Herbs de Provence is a classic French combination of dried basil, thyme, marjoram, rosemary, lavender and sage. You can mix it up yourself or buy it ready-made. Once you have it on hand you will find yourself using it in salads, eggs, soups and breads--it makes everything taste just a bit special without taking over. Makes 4 servings.
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves or 8 thighs
Place each chicken breast half between 2 sheets of heavy-duty plastic wrap; pound to 1/2-inch thickness using a mallet, a heavy pan or a rolling pin. Sprinkle chicken evenly with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add chicken; cook 6 minutes on each side or until done. Remove chicken from pan to keep warm. Add garlic to pan; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add broth and herbes de Provence; bring to a boil, scraping pan to loosen browned bit. Cook until broth mixture is reduced to 1/2 cup (about 3 minutes). Remove from heat; add butter and lemon juice, stirring until butter melts. Serve sauce over chicken.
Chicken and Dumplings
Chock full of vegetables this is hearty enough to pass as a complete meal. If you don't have time to make the dumplings just grab a box of Bisquick. These dumplings are made using buttermilk. You can use sour milk instead or make sweet milk sour by adding 1 teaspoon vinegar (preferably white vinegar) to 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons milk. Makes 4 servings each about 2 cups (more if you use the vegetables strained from the broth.)
12 cups cold water
1 cup flour, divided
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
Broth: Combine first 7 ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 2 hours. Remove chicken from broth and remove meat from the bones. Shred meat and set aside. Strain broth through a sieve and boil broth about 8 minutes to reduce it to 6 cups. Dumplings: In a bowl whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Cut butter into small pieces and add to the flour. With a pastry blender or 2 knives cut mixture until it resembles coarse meal. Stir in buttermilk and turn the dough onto floured surface. Knead 5 times, adding flour as needed. Divide dough into 24 pieces.
30 Minutes Before Serving: SautÃ© together chopped onion, celery and carrots for 4 minutes. Add broth and salt; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Drop dumplings into pan; cover and cook 10 minutes or until they are done, stirring occasionally. Remove 1/4 cup liquid from the pan; stir in flour until mixture is smooth (no lumps). Return chicken to pan. Add flour mixture and bring to a boil. Cook 1 minute or until slightly thick, stirring occasionally.
You can use the strained vegetables in the soup if you wish, or discard them.
A delicious chicken dish is something to crow about.