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Chicken For All Seasons

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Chicken is the most widely served meat in the world, with more than 50 billion chickens slaughtered each year.

Every family in America has several favorite chicken dishes. This time a year barbecued chicken may lead the parade, however, throughout the year each season has its own favorite.

Some dishes are popular enough to be served through all four seasons of the year. White meat or dark meat? Most people have a favorite. In my house we both tend to like dark meat. However, when I make a whole chicken we save the breast to top our salads the following day. 

Generally, I’ll buy a whole chicken and cut it up. I will put the largest pieces, the breasts, in the heat first and the smallest, the wings, in the heat last. In this fashion they all finish cooking at the same time. It takes a little practice, but I’m sure the readers of this column are up to it.

Chicken is extremely cross-cultural. From stir fried chicken, chicken Marsala, southern fried chicken, chicken sausage, tandori chicken and on and on. We can buy chicken frozen, fresh, canned and dehydrated. I like to cook several meals of our favorite chicken dish and freeze the extra for future meals.

When cooking chicken it is important to remember to cook it thoroughly to avoid any food borne illness. The cooked temperature for chicken would be 165°F. In the following recipe the chicken pieces are rather small so be sure that when you cut up your chicken breasts to cut them as evenly sized as possible, this way they will all be done at the same time.

Overcooked chicken, any overcooked meat for that matter, will be dry and tough. Once you remove your baked food from the oven it will continue to cook for a short period of time. This”carryover cooking” is very important to account for in your temperatures. For a whole chicken or large roasts the internal temperature will rise a minimum of 10° after it is taken out of the oven. For small pieces of chicken, such as in the following recipe, you can count on only about 5° of carryover cooking.

So if you're watching the internal temperature of these pieces of chicken, be sure to take it out of the oven when it reaches 160°, and let it stand for 8 to 10 minutes.

Crunchy Chicken Parmesan

Serves 4

2 cups dried breadcrumbs, preferably Panko

3/4 cup Parmesan cheese grated, grate it yourself

2 Tbl dried parsley

1 stick unsalted butter

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp powdered garlic

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp black pepper

4 boneless skinless, rinsed and patted dry

1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

1 tsp dry mustard

Preheat oven to 350°

Cut chicken breasts lengthwise into even thirds, set aside. Combine bread crumbs, cheese, paprika, garlic powder, salt, pepper and parsley in a bowl mix thoroughly. Melt butter in a saucepan, add Worcestershire sauce and dry mustard.

Prepare a baking sheet by lining with foil and coating with nonstick spray. Dip chicken pieces into butter mixture and roll into spiced bread crumbs to coat thoroughly. Arrange evenly on the baking sheet, pour any left over butter mixture over chicken. Cook for approximately 18 minutes, until an internal temperature of 180°, in the thickest part, is achieved.

Serve over noodles that have been tossed with marinara sauce or some garlic infused extra virgin olive oil. Add a side of vegetables and your sitting down for dinner.

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