By Nancy Caivano
I must get more requests for chicken recipes than every other kind of recipe combined. There is a very good reason for it. Chicken is relatively inexpensive, a good, low-fat source of protein and can be prepared in numerous different ways. Chicken is sort of a bland meat, but it has its own delicate flavor. It also tends to take on the flavors of whatever it is cooked with, which makes chicken a perfect partner for pasta or risotto.
To get more flavor from your chicken, don't limit yourself to using boneless, skinless breasts, even if that is what the recipe calls for. An equal amount of leftover chicken can be substituted for cooked chicken. For example, for one pound of cooked chicken breasts, substitute one pound of leg meat that has been roasted and diced. Dark meat has much more flavor than white and is usually less expensive. If you have the freezer room, stock up when your supermarket has a sale. I buy large packages, separate them into dinner portions and freeze them in zip-top plastic bags. with one large package, you can get two, three, or four different nights' dinners. Also, if your market has a sale on turkey, you can use that instead of the chicken. It's a bit stronger in flavor, but is versatile and works very well.
This month, I have four recipes that will expand your poultry repertoire and make your family happy in the process. First, for the pastas, we have Pasta with Chicken, Eggplant and Olives. This is a dish full of different flavors. Golden sautéed chicken and eggplant are combined with tomatoes, olives, Romano cheese and a fresh herb mixture that is tossed in at the end to really get the full effect of the herbs. Our other pasta is Pasta with Chicken and Roasted Pepper Bolognese. This dish is a great change of pace from the traditional bolognese sauce. It is lighter in flavor and texture and doesn't require cooking as long as the beef and pork version. Aromatic vegetables are combined with ground chicken and roasted red bell peppers, white wine, tomatoes and stock for a rich, thick sauce. This recipe makes plenty, so freeze some for a really busy night, where you can just cook some pasta and heat this terrific sauce.
For our risotti, we begin with Risotto with Chicken, Porcini and Broccoli Rabe, a warming, winter-y dish. Sautéed chicken is combined with dried porcini mushrooms and spicy, sautéed broccoli rabe that cooks with the risotto and flavors every grain of rice. The drained and strained porcini soaking liquid is used in the stock to punch up the flavor. Risotto with Chicken, Prosciutto, Goat Cheese and Almonds is another dish that is full of vibrant flavors and different textures. The chicken is sautéed and added to the risotto with the savory prosciutto, rich and tangy goat cheese and crunchy toasted almonds that are stirred in at the end. This is a dish elegant enough for a dinner party, either as a first course or as an entree.
I hope that you enjoy these dishes, and they give some new life to that same old chicken. Sometimes all an ingredient needs is a makeover to make it a favorite again. Join me next month when we take a long-awaited taste of spring.
This page created March 2000
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