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Posts Tagged ‘chicken breast’

chicken-breast_p5137169

Like the rest of America, we eat a lot of boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Not because they are my preference, but because those of us on a cardiac-health diet are told to eliminate the skin. To make mine look as though they still have that delicious crisp skin, I lightly coat them in seasoned Wondra flour and sear them in a very hot nonstick (Scanpan, usually) pan with just a hint of olive oil for about 3 minutes per side or until golden. I then transfer to a very hot oven for about another 5 minutes or until just barely cooked through. I allow the breast to rest for another 5 minutes to finish cooking and to hold the juices in before slicing it, crosswise, on the bias. Because they are so large, one chicken breast serves both my husband and me. In this photo, I have transferred the cooked breast to a pan of warm old-fashioned creamy chicken gravy that I had saved (and froze) from a roast chicken dinner. I think if you try my method, you will find that you will end up with juicy meat with a slightly crisp exterior.

 

chicken-breast_p5137184

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Yesterday I purchased a package of chicken breast halves (among other things) to do some dishes that Steve needed to photograph for a client.  I have been complaining for months about the humongous size of commercially-raised chickens, but these breasts took the cake.  I yelled for Steve to come to the kitchen with his camera.  I got the yardstick and placed it just above the first breast half I had pulled from the package.  You can see just how gigantic it is.  I would say it is almost the size that a turkey breast was when I was a child (granted, that was a long time ago, but….).  I was almost stuck dumb!  I can only hope that my posting this photo will further raise concern about the use of growth hormones and whatever else is being done to raise chickens of such magnitude.  These just can’t be good for us.  I know organic, locally- and humanely-raised birds are expensive, but either we start eating them or whatever they are doing to commercially-raised birds is going to start to eat us!

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Some weeks ago I got it in my head to try to find what used to be normal-sized chickens – those about 2 to 2½ pounds.  An impossibility!  You can find a chicken breast half that weighs almost that much but no delicate little birds are to be found anywhere.  So, my best buddy Lynn and I cornered Chrissy Chiacchia from Gaia’s Breath Farm (for mail orders try mtoro@wildblue.net) at the Cooperstown Farmers Market and she agreed to produce 3 small chickens for me to try.

This past weekend the chickens came home to roost and, although by now I had forgotten exactly what I had planned to do with them, they found their way into a spur-of-the-moment on the grill dish.  I had a container of Kalamata olives and a small jar of 3 preserved lemons from Kalustyan’s (www.kalustyans.com). The combination of the smoke from the grill (we only use hardwood charcoal) and the wonderful farm-fresh flavor of the chicken wedded to the punguent, salty lemons and olives made for a very memorable meal.  It didn’t hurt that we had a chilled bottle of Veuve Clicquot to toast our good fortune.

This recipe should serve 6 people unless you are used to giant pieces of chicken – it would then feed 4 amply.  And, if you don’t have a grill handy, it would work just fine in the oven.

            Three 2 to 2½ pound chickens, rinsed and patted dry

3 small fresh spring onions

1 cup white wine

 ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil

3 preserved lemons with their preserving liquid

1 cup Kalamata olives

About 2 to 3 tablespoons torn fresh mint leaves

About 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves

About 1 tablespoon torn fresh sage leaves

About 1 tablespoon torn fresh basil leaves

   Whatever chicken giblets that came with the chickens except the livers

About 2 pounds small new potatoes, cut in half

Freshly ground pepper

Preheat the grill.  If using charcoal as we do, build a hot fire on one side of the grill and place the grill racks on.  I don’t have any real experience with gas grills but would imagine you could heat one side of a gas grill as well.

Place an onion in the cavity of each chicken.

Place the chickens in a large baking dish – I used my largest cast iron skillet.  Pour in the wine and olive oil.

Slice the lemons, crosswise, and randomly place the slices around the chickens and into the liquid.  Add the olives and herbs to the pan along with the giblets.

Nestle the potatoes around the chickens.

Pour whatever preserved lemon liquid that remains in the container over the chickens and then liberally sprinkle pepper over all.

Place the pan on the grill away from the fire.  Cover and roast, adding coals to keep the fire at about 400ºF for the first hour.  Continue to roast for about another 30 minutes or until the chickens are golden brown and cooked through.  The fire can be less hot for the final 30 minutes.

Remove from the grill and let rest for a few minutes.  Cut each chicken in half and serve with the potatoes, lemon slices, and olives and any pan juices.

 

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