In the South, chicken is sometimes called the Holy Bird, because it was fed to so many preachers (usually fried) for Sunday dinner! (In the rural South, the midday meal is still called “dinner” and the evening meal is “supper.”)
Besides being so good for you, it is my favorite meat. I tried a couple of new things lately that I want to share with you. Normally I roast or grill it, but it can be tricky to get the right balance of done enough and tender. So I decided to marinate it in an herb/olive oil mixture. YUM!
I added a tablespoon or more of dried basil, parley, sage, and oregano, plus about a teaspoon of salt and pepper to a zipper bag; then about 1/4 cup olive oil. The longer you let it sit, the more flavor the oil will take on. Unfortunately, I’ve been working by the seat of my pants lately and didn’t wait at all.
Trim the fat, then cut the chicken into uniform, small pieces. Add to the bag and turn it until the chicken is well-coated. Again, the longer you wait, the more flavorful it will be. But it’s still good if you don’t wait at all.
Here’s where I diverged from my normal way– I would usually put it on the grill or on a rack in a 425-degree oven. Instead, I put them in a 9×13 pan, right on the bottom. I poured the remaining oil over the top. Baked at 425 for about 30 minutes. As always, I tested it with my handy-dandy meat thermometer! While it wasn’t brown, it was done. You could also have braised it (cooked in a skillet without adding more oil) at this point and it would be good too– But you would have to watch it and turn it — this was so much easier! There was enough for several meals and lunches… it’s been so crazy at our house there were no Second Generation meals happening; it was just plain old leftovers!
And then tonight I was preparing chicken salad for a baby shower tomorrow– I had to make enough for 24 sandwiches, and I’m the world’s worst at estimating how much I need, so I just figured A LOT! I wanted the chicken to be tender (not hard edges like you sometimes get with roasting), but full of its flavor, so I first thought I should boil it. But I’m convinced that when you get that wonderful broth, some of that flavor had to leave the meat itself– so I tried steaming it. This was my first time to do it; I used my steamer but could only fit 3 breasts in the pan, so I did the rest on the rack in my roasting pan, with water covering the bottom, and wrapped in foil.
First I trimmed the fat off and split the breasts a bit so they wouldn’t be too thick, then seasoned with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
Put them in the steamer and on the roasting pan. (This actually looks like after they cooked.) They won’t brown cooking this way, so use your meat thermometer and get them to 180 degrees F. Once the water in the pan begins to boil, turn it down some, just enough to maintain a boil– boiling water doesn’t get hotter; it just boils out. I set the oven at 425. Both ways were ready in about 35 minutes.
Meanwhile, I prepared my “extras” for the salad. I like a LOT of stuff in there. Mayonnaise AND Miracle Whip, salt and pepper, pickle relish, celery, 6 boiled eggs, pecans, and (not pictured) an apple and about 1/2 c onion. (I probably could have used more onion.)
I toasted the pecans in a skillet for 5 minutes. It just brings out the flavor a bit more.
I had to split the mixture between 2 bowls because I don’t have one big enough for it all! But once it was mixed, I put it all back in one. All the flavors can get to know one another, and tomorrow I’ll serve it up with croissants. It’ll be very girly, but if you pile it on thick toasted bread, it’s hearty enough for guys too!