By Beverly Barbour
Poultry is probably today's best buy
Time was when chicken was a special treat reserved for Sunday dinner and turkey was only served at a holiday meal. But those fast squawking birds have pushed aside pork and beef and flown into our kitchens to be served in ways probably never dreamed of not too many years ago.
Breast meat is probably the most popular part of any bird's carcass, maybe because it actually has less flavor than the dark meat. Strange, isn't it that we then work to give the meat more flavors when we prepare it.
Most recipes that call for breast meat can also be used for thighs and thighs are usually less expensive when you are buying pieces rather than the whole bird. The whole bird is still the best buy, particularly if you divide the pieces and make soup or stock from the carcass, neck, and offal. Saving money takes more time, so it is a trade off.
Oven Barbecued Chicken Pizza
This can be made with leftover cooked chicken or turkey, dark or light. You can make your dough from scratch or a package, or buy prebaked pizza crusts. You can also use pita bread, Middle Eastern flat breads (used to make wraps) or a piecrust.
1 pound chicken breasts, skinned and washed
Preheat oven to 350 F. Rinse and dry the uncooked chicken. Place pieces in an 8-inch baking pan and coat with about 2 tablespoons barbecue sauce. Bake until no longer pink at center of thickest part, about 20 minutes. Let stand until cool enough to handle, and then tear into bite-size chunks. Mix with remaining barbecue sauce. If using leftover chicken, just mix with the barbecue sauce and let it marinate. In a frying pan over high heat, stir bacon until browned and crisp. With a slotted spoon transfer bacon to paper towels to drain. Arrange pizza crusts on a baking sheet. Spread each with about 2 tablespoons cream cheese. Spoon chicken in sauce evenly over both crusts; top with bacon, green chilies, jack cheese and hot chili flakes. Bake pizzas in a 400 F oven until cheese is browned and bubbling, 15 to 20 minutes. Makes 2 or 3 servings.
Chicken Breasts Stuffed with Italian Sausage
If there is no Italian sausage to be had, substitute any other uncooked sausage.
4 ounce Italian sausage link
Remove casing and crumble sausage. Heat skillet over medium-high heat. Add sausage, onion and celery, sauté 5 minutes or until sausage is browned and onion is golden (you may need to add a bit of oil or butter). Add wine to the pan. Cook 1 minute or until most of the liquid is absorbed. Rub each side of bread with cut sides of garlic; discard garlic. Coarsely crumble bread; add to sausage mixture. Stir in parsley, salt and pepper. Let stand 5 minutes or until liquid is absorbed; toss to combine. Place each chicken breast between to 2 sheets of plastic wrap, pound to 1/4-inch thickness (a rolling pin or flat frying pan works well for pounding). Place half of the stuffing on one side of each pounded piece, leaving a 1-inch border around sides. Fold remaining half of each chicken breast over stuffing, and secure with wooden picks. Sprinkle chicken with a little salt and pepper, if you wish. Heat large skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with spray or olive oil. Add stuffed chicken breast halves to pan; cook 3 minutes on each side. Add chicken broth, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 5 minutes or until chicken is done. Remove wooden picks and slice breasts in half. Serve immediately. Makes 4 servings.
Balsamic Glazed Chicken
Simmer the balsamic vinegar mixture while the chicken is in the oven. Can probably be cooked on a grill as well as in the oven.
2 tablespoons butter, softened
Adjust bottom oven rack to lowest position and top rack to highest position (about 5 inches from element) and then heat broiler. Line bottom of broiler pan with foil and fit with slotted broiler-pan top. Combine butter, garlic, rosemary, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in bowl. Pat chicken dry and using fingers carefully loosen skin from meat. Spoon butter mixture under skin of each breast, then work butter evenly under the skin. Season with salt and pepper and arrange chicken, skin side down, on top of broiler pan. Broil on lower oven rack until just beginning to brown, 10 to 15 minutes. Turn chicken skin side up and continue to broil until skin is slightly crisp and chicken registers 160 F, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove pan to upper rack and broil until skin is spotty brown and crisp, about 1 minute. While chicken is cooking, simmer vinegar and sugar over medium heat until slightly thickened, about 3 minutes. Brush vinegar glaze over cooked chicken. Makes 4 servings.
Chicken is still something to crow about!