Chicken...from classic to trendy

I woke up this morning and immediately looked at the grocery store circulars online. I typically check three websites: Acme, Giant, and Wegmans. I used to just check Wegmans, but I realized that going out of my way to go to a different store could save me a lot of money if that store has good sales.

I was thrilled to discover that Giant is having a Buy One Get One Free special on Perdue Oven Stuffer Roaster chickens. This is the perfect opportunity to grab one for this week and then stash one in the freezer. Last week, Giant had a Buy One Get One Free special on boneless skinless chicken breasts. I grabbed two packages, opened them up, divided the chicken breasts into portions that make sense for us, and froze each portion separately.

So now I have a bunch of boneless skinless chicken breasts that are ready to thaw when I need them as well as a chicken to roast this week and one to roast in the future.

In honor of all of this chicken-ness, I decided to share a few of my favorite chicken recipes.

Chicken is quite plain on its own...but that is its strongest asset! You can make chicken three days in a row and have three completely different tasting meals. Here are three tasty and very different ways to make chicken.

Classic Roast Chicken

1 roasting chicken (5 or 6 lbs)
Salt (I use kosher salt)
Pepper (I have a grinder...it tastes much better that way)
Thyme (fresh is really best)
1 lemon, halved
1 head of garlic, cut in half crosswise
2 or 3 tbsp butter, melted
1 large onion
Vegetables to roast (my favorites are carrots, onions, and red skinned potatoes)
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Remove the gross bag of giblets from the chicken and then rinse the bird inside and out. Pat dry.
  2. Cut up the vegetables you'd like to roast into large pieces (try to keep them all about the same size) and toss them with a touch of oil or melted butter. Place them in the roasting pan.
  3. Generously salt and pepper the chicken, inside and out. Place in the roasting pan on top of vegetables.
  4. Stuff the cavity with most of the thyme (keep a few sprigs for later), both halves of the lemon, and both halves of the garlic.
  5. Brush the outside of the chicken with the melted butter and then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Remove the leaves from the sprigs of thyme you reserved by pinching the top of the spring and running your fingers down to the bottom (the leaves will pop off). Sprinkle the thyme leaves onto the chicken.
  6. Tuck the little wings underneath the body of the chicken and tie the legs together with kitchen string (I find this part to be rather violent, but necessary).
  7. Roast for roughly 1 1/2 hours.
Three ways to tell when it's done:
  1. The internal temperature is about 180 degrees when using an instant read thermometer.
  2. My thermometer sucks so I generally cut between the leg and thigh and see if the juices run clear.
  3. When I'm feeling particularly compulsive, I cut right into the chicken breast to check it...negatively altering it's presentation.
Recipe slightly modified from a recipe in The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook by Ina Garten

Island Chicken* (no picture yet...)

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 tbsp olive oil

Rub: (can be made way in advance)**
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cinnamon

1 cup packed brown sugar
2 tbsp finely chopped garlic
1 tbsp Tabasco sauce
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Stir ingredients for the rub together.
  3. Pound the chicken breasts between two pieces of plastic wrap until they are thin (you don't have to do this...but it make them cook much more evenly).
  4. Coat the chicken with the spice run on all sides. Stir together glaze ingredients.
  5. Heat oil in a frying pan over moderately high heat and brown chicken on both sides. Place browned chicken breasts onto a baking sheet.
  6. Pat the glaze mixture on the top of all the chicken breasts and then roast in the oven for about 20 minutes.
  7. When it's just cooked through (it shouldn't be pink in the middle when you cut into one), take it out of the oven and cover it with foil. Let it rest for 5-10 minutes.
*This recipe can be made with pork tenderloin and it's absolutely delicious.
**I have made this recipe for 8-10 people and just increased the rub and glaze ingredients until I thought I had enough to cover the amount of meat I had.

Recipe learned at The Kitchen Workshop

P.F. Chang's Lettuce Wraps (serves about 4)

~You have to bust into the ethnic aisle for this trendy Asian recipe~

Large iceberg lettuce leaves (get a head of lettuce, not a bag)
1 lb ground chicken*
1 large onion -- chopped
2 tbsp minced garlic
1 tbsp reduced sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup hoisin sauce (seems like a weird ingredient, but you can use it for lots of things!)
2 tsp minced fresh ginger (in the produce section, you can buy a small piece of it)
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar or red wine vinegar
2 tsp Asian chili pepper sauce
1 can (8 oz) sliced water chestnuts -- drained, finely chopped
1 bunch green onions (scallions) finely chopped
2 tsp Asian sesame oil

  1. Rinse lettuce leaves, keeping them whole. Set aside to drain.
  2. Cook chicken in a large skillet over medium heat, stirring often to break up the meat. Add onion, garlic, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, ginger, vinegar, and chili sauce.
  3. Cook until the meat is crumbled and brown. Add water chestnuts and green onions. Cook until onions begin to wilt, 2 minutes.
  4. Stir in sesame oil. Arrange lettuce leaves on the outside of a platter and spoon meat mixture in center. Allow diners to spoon meat into the leaves and eat like a taco. Great as an appetizer. If you make it for the main dish, make something to go with it as it's not super filling.
*You can purchase ground chicken...but I think it's rather expensive. Grab some of those chicken breasts you got on sale and give them a whirl in the food processor fitted with the steel blade. You'll have ground chicken in no time!

Recipe learned at The Kitchen Workshop

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