Bubba Gump’s version of poultry would probably go like this, “ Fried chicken, chicken gumbo, chicken jambalaya, chicken and dumplings, chicken noodle soup, chicken and biscuits, chicken and waffles, barbecued chicken, baked chicken, chicken salad….etc”. The ‘bird is the word’ today so we divide, cook and eat these little feathered entrees.
As with any meat, seasoning is a major component in creating a great dinner. Everything from Jamaican spices to fresh garlic can be used to flavor the bird. Find a recipe and adjust it to match up with what you got in the fridge. Got a whole chicken and some vegetables? Looks like the start of a good soup. Got a package of wings and a refrigerator door full of bbq sauces? Looks like were grilling. Get the picture?
Let’s breakdown the chicken and see what type of meals are possible.
The bird divides up into Breasts, Tenders, Wings, Thighs, Legs, and the lower Back. Keep in mind there are two of each and each with its own characteristic. For example, the breasts and tenders are made up of white meat which are considered the ‘gold standards’ of the bird. These can dry out if cooked too long so be careful and use marinades and proper cooking times. Leaving the bone-in will also help to keep the meat succulent. The rest of the bird is pretty much a darker meat and contains a little more fat to help with the juicy-factor.
Try these recipes and be inspired to try ones never before attempted:
Chicken Thigh Jambalaya
1 lb. ground Mild Italian Sausage
1 lb. cubed Andouille sausage
1 ½ lbs. boneless, skinless Chicken Thigh meat cubed
1 lbs. cubed Ham
2 cups diced Vidalia Onion
3 tbsp. minced Garlic
1 tbsp. Fresh Basil
½ cup diced Red Bell Pepper
½ cup diced Yellow Pepper
1 cup diced Roma Tomatoes
3 Bay Leaves
½ cup chopped Parsley
½ cup Slap-Ya-Mama Cajun Seasoning
12 oz. Beer for Recipe (12 oz. Beer for chef!)
5 cups Chicken Stock
3 cups Long Grain Rice
1 cup Green Onion tops cut on an angle
- Season chicken thigh meat overnight with ½ of the Cajun Seasoning.
- At the grill, use a heavy bottom pot or cast iron Dutch oven to sear the Andouille and mild Italian sausages over high heat. Stir the sausage around till browned.
- Remove sausage and use the remaining oil to brown up the chicken thighs on all sides. Add some olive oil if needed. Keep scraping the bottom to loosen the bits of flavor and to keep the chicken from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Don’t over cook the chicken.
- Remove the chicken and add the onions and peppers to sweat about 5-7 minutes.
- Add the ham and garlic while stirring.
- Add the remaining ½ of the Cajun seasoning, basil, tomatoes and bay leaves.
- Return all the meat and fold. Cook over low heat for 10 min.
- Add beer to deglaze pan while scraping bottom, while drinking the other beer!
- Add stock, bring to a boil then add the rice.
- Return to a slow boil and cook uncovered for 5-7 min. stirring so rice does not stick.
- Finally, add the parsley.
- Reduce heat and simmer covered, for 30-35 min. Let rice steam and do not remove cover.
- Fluff rice and turn off heat. Let stand until any remaining liquid is absorbed.
- Remove bay leaves and top each plateful with the chopped green onions.
Grilled Chicken Breasts Stuffed with Ham and Swiss
4 Skinless, Boneless Chicken Breasts pounded to ¼ inch thick
4 slices Swiss Cheese
2 cups cooked and cubed Ham
Salt and pepper
½ cup Honey Mustard Dressing in 2 separate cups
- Pre-heat barbecue grill.
- Layout first pounded chicken breast and place a slice of Swiss and ¼ cup chopped ham in center.
- Pull one side over mixture and continue to ‘roll’ the breast over so that the ham and cheese are now inside the chicken breast. Secure with a toothpick or skewer. The object is to keep the ingredients inside, so tuck accordingly.
- Brush with Olive Oil.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Repeat for the other 3 breasts.
- Take all 4 Chicken Breasts to the grill and cook for 15 to 20 minutes rotating occasionally.
- Last 10 minutes, brush with ¼ cup Honey Mustard dressing.
- Chicken is done when the juices are running clear.
- Remove, let rest for a few minutes and drizzle each using the reserved ¼ cup of Honey Mustard Dressing.
Obviously, Wings can be baked or grilled and then tossed in one of the many hot wing sauces available at the store. Everything from Honey glazes to Habanero flame throwers can be pulled right off the local grocers shelves. Choose wisely or mix and match.
Chicken Tenders are probably most popular in the battered and fried variety. Nothing wrong with these and the spice combinations range from simple salt and pepper to heat inspired flavors. Cut into bite sized nuggets and realize that with these wonderful bites of heaven come the numerous extravagant sauces; Honey Mustard, Barbecue, Sweet and Sour and just good old fashioned Hot Sauce. Cook accordingly and always follow deep fryer directions (Hard to enjoy a good chicken dinner from the ER room).
Chicken Backs are great for soups. Stewing these in a broth allows full flavor and lets the meat fall off the bone for easy picking. Sear them in some oil, add your chopped vegetables and top off with some stock. Season with salt and pepper and keep it on a low flame partially covered for about and hour. Pull the meat, remove the bones and return the chicken back into the pot. Add some egg noodles or rice and let cook through. Put in bowls or cups and serve with crackers. Eat, then find a spot for the inevitable nap that follows.
The “5 beer chicken drummie” article, written previously, will take care of that package of legs in the freezer. Fresh is always, always, always better. But, frozen, thawed and cooked correctly still makes for a great dinner.
For more information go to www.nationalchickencouncil.org to find additional recipes, fun facts, and industry issues. Remember to refer to your dusty, shelf bound cookbooks for basic recipes and then adjust to your taste. Nothing is written in stone and the flavor combinations available are endless. It’s a Poultry-pa-looza and the grill ready to start singing!
Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em and don’t forget your bib.