Category Archives: Chicken / Poultry

Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad

It has started to warm up, but in that usual spring way of being 70° one day and 46° the next. Still, I can feel spring around the corner and am in the mood for a cold salad. The trick is not to make too much for the two of us, so that we don’t feel obligated to eat it for a week or throw it away. I’m only going to use 6 0z. of the pasta, but I know it will still be too much.

I’m using fresh garden peas, now that my local grocer carries them, a few jarred roasted red peppers, hard boiled eggs, and the chicken breasts of the previous post. And bacon.

Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad

  • Servings: 3-4 as main dish
  • Difficulty: easy
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6 oz pasta—I used white fiber pasta shells that have more whole grain—cooked according to package directions

2 large roasted red bell peppers, diced

8 oz fresh shelled garden peas, microwaved for 1 minute, or frozen peas, uncooked

4 eggs, hard boiled and chopped

4-6 slices thick-sliced bacon, browned and chopped

4 small poached chicken breasts, about 2 lbs, cut in large chunks (see previous post)

1 1/2-2 cups ranch dressing (below)

Ranch Dressing:

1/2 cup each whole buttermilk, real mayonnaise, sour cream

2 tablespoons dried chives

1 tablespoon dried dill weed

1 clove garlic, grated or minced

salt and pepper

  1. Whisk all ingredients until smooth. You can double the recipe if you think you need the larger amount, and it never hurts to have more on hand.

Combine all the salad ingredients, tossing with the ranch dressing. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour. The garden peas are a nice addition with that fresh pop in each bite.

Breast of Chicken Cockaigne

Another recipe from my old Joy of Cooking (1967), “Breast of Chicken Cockaigne” uses a small amount of both oil and butter in a quick simmer, then relies on a short rest in a covered pan to finish the cooking. If nothing else, it reminds cooks that a chicken breast is best when not overcooked. Why Cockaigne? Here’s what the authors say about it in the forward to the cookbook:

…in response to many requests from users of “The Joy” who ask “What are your favorites?,” we have added to some of our recipes the word “Cockaigne,” which signified in medieval times “a mythical land of peace and plenty,” and also happens to be the name of our country home.

The method is really a form of poaching in fat, with enough moisture created in the covered pan to keep the meat from browning and to keep the meat extra moist. If you love poached chicken, you must really try this one instead of the one where chicken is immersed in water. The one item missing from this method is seasoning, which I guess is not a mistake. Just be sure to use or offer seasoning on serving. I’m using the chicken in a pasta salad that you can see in the next post.

Breast of Chicken Cockaigne

  • Servings: 1 breast per person
  • Difficulty: easy
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4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts—mine weighed about 1/2 lb each

all purpose flour

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons oil (I used olive oil)

Note: the recipe calls for 1/2 tablespoons butter and 1/2 tablespoon oil for each breast.

  1. Bring the butter and oil to “the point of fragrance” in a large skillet. The recipe does not suggest the level of heat to use, but since you are not supposed to let the meat brown, I used medium heat on my gas stove. I put the chicken in when the butter started to foam, but before it sizzled.
  2. While the fats are heating, pat the breasts dry, then lightly flour. I took the term “dust” to heart and barely floured the breasts—just enough to keep them dry. I let them sit on paper towels until the fats were ready.
  3. Place the chicken in the pan and move it around so the flour does not stick, then cover, reduce the heat to low, and cook for about 15 minutes. On my burner, low is not a true simmer, but is a little higher than that. Mostly, you want to occasionally move the chicken so it doesn’t stick or brown, but not so often that you are releasing too much of the built up steam. I turned the breasts over every five minutes and they never browned.
  4. Leaving the cover on, turn off the heat or move off the burner on an electric stove, and let sit in the covered pan for another 10 minutes.
  5. Just for you, I tested the breasts with a thermometer, because I knew you wouldn’t believe me, and the breasts were at 160° after the final resting.

If you have some of the really large breasts being sold these days, increase the times as needed.

Creamy Chicken and Rice Soup

Yes, I’m calling it soup and my husband will just have to deal with it. I’ll make him some garlic bread to dredge in it.

I’m starting with packaged chicken stock, but cooking the chicken in that stock for a double punch of chicken flavor, and I’m not removing the skin from the chicken, because —chicken fat! You can’t overestimate the importance of chicken fat in your soup for flavor. Then, I’m using a combination of brown basmati and wild rices, cooked in the stock, so they soak up all that flavor and do some thickening.

I used 3 chicken thighs, bone-in skin-on, and 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts. While it was a lot of meat, it was just fine for the 2+ quarts of soup.

Creamy Chicken Rice Soup

  • Servings: makes 2 quarts
  • Difficulty: easy
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Stock and chicken:

3 large chicken thighs, with skin and bones, browned in 1 tablespoon bacon fat

3 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1 large carrot, cut in large chunks

1 large yellow onion, with skin, cut in half

top of large celery bunch, about three inches, including leaves

2 quarts chicken stock, packaged or homemade

1/2 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper

  1. Brown chicken thighs in 1 tablespoon bacon fat in large stock pot over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil, then simmer, covered, for 30 minutes.
  3. Remove chicken breasts and continue to simmer the thighs in the stock, covered, for another 30 minutes.
  4. Remove thighs. Strain stock and return to pot.
  5. Pull the chicken into rough shreds or cut uniformly while the rice cooks.

Rice:

1 cup brown basmati rice

1/4 cup wild rice

tender heart of celery bunch (about 1 1/2 cups), including leaves, thinly sliced

3-4 carrots, diced (about 1 1/2 cups)

about 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley

  1. Bring strained stock to boil and stir in rices and vegetables.
  2. Reduce to simmer, cooking. covered, for about 45 minutes or until done.

Finishing soup:

pulled chicken (about 4 cups)

2 cups heavy cream

Optional: about 1 cup frozen corn

salt & pepper to taste

  1. Add chicken to simmering stock; return to simmer.
  2. Add cream, salt & pepper to taste, and corn, if using. Return to simmer, cooking until heated through, especially if you added frozen corn.
  3. If you prefer a thicker gravy, here are some tips from The Kitchn on ways to thicken soup: http://www.thekitchn.com/soups-on-7-ways-to-make-any-so-106057

 

Chicken Burgers

These burgers are made from boneless, skinless thighs for a more moist and flavorful burger than you would get with white meat. You can grind (or really mince) chicken in a food processor, but you have to be careful not to turn it into a paste. I use the food processor to grind ham, and I might use it for beef, but poultry is so tender and sticky, that you need to be on your toes. A search on the web will show you that freezing the poultry chunks first can help you reach the right grind before it turns into a paste. Luckily, I have a grinding attachment for my stand mixer, so the grinding is really easy and foolproof.

I looked around at what others do to make such burgers and found that some just shape the meat. Some add breadcrumbs both inside and outside the burgers; some just outside. I thought about breading them, as I do my fishcakes, but I was hoping for a more traditional burger this time. I did add a small proportion—1/2 cup per 1 1/2 lbs chicken—of fresh breadcrumbs to the mix, just to make them a little lighter, but not enough to detract from the chicken. Two tablespoons of half and half was the only moisture added, no egg, which actually can toughen a meat mixture and dry it out. I didn’t overdo the flavoring additions, just some chives, salt, and pepper. They turned out flavorful and juicy, browned in a cast iron skillet and served on ciabatta rolls with a quick homemade burger sauce.

Regardless of how you grind the chicken, it will be sticky and hard to form into patties. I placed four mounds of the meat mixture on a sheet of plastic wrap, then placed another sheet over them to do the shaping. then I put them in the fridge for a few hours until time to cook. It helped keep the meat in the patties instead of stuck on my fingers.

Chicken Burgers

  • Servings: 4 burgers
  • Difficulty: easy
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1 1/2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs

1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs

1/4 cup chopped chives

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

2 tablespoons half and half or milk

oil for browning

  1. Grind your chicken, unless you purchase it ground at the store.
  2. Mix all the ingredients, except the oil, lightly.
  3. Divide into four portions and place them apart on a sheet of plastic wrap.
  4. Place another sheet of plastic wrap over them, using the wrap to press down and shape the patties. You can refrigerate them at this point if not ready to cook. I cut them apart in the wrap to easier place them on a plate.
  5. In a large skillet over medium to medium-high heat, heat enough cooking oil to cover the bottom of the skillet. When shimmering, add the patties and cook for about 8 minutes per side, until browned and done in the middle. I used a thermometer to test for about 165°

The quick sauce was a mixture of mayonnaise, A. 1., ketchup, smoked paprika, salt and pepper. I would have added garlic powder if I had any!