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Winner, winner... Chicken for dinner!

Story and photos by Angie Sutton

www.mothersapronstrings.com

Chicken is a sort of universal meat that is loved by people of all ages. Make it a spicy drumstick and it’s a perfect fit for a tailgate. Shape it into a nugget and you’ve got happy kiddos. Stuff it, tenderize it, baste it, braise it, roast it, grill it or pile it into a slow cooker to create a delicious family meal.

It is a versatile staple at Sutton Central because I can purchase a package of chicken breasts and essentially personalize it to the tastes of each person joining the dinner table. If the day’s schedule is busy, in the slow cooker it goes. This week however, we’ve had a bit more time to prepare the “fancy” chicken recipes. Enjoy!


Agave-Lime Grilled Chicken

Marinade is the key to the fresh taste of this recipe. Top it with purchased or homemade salsa and garnish with a wedge of fresh lime.

2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breast
1/4 c. fresh-squeezed lime juice
2 tsp. lime zest
1/4 c. agave nectar (light)
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper

Rinse chicken, pat dry and toss into a resealable bag. In a bowl, whisk together all ingredients except chicken to make the marinade. Pour marinade into bag with chicken and let sit in refrigerator for about 5 hours. Preheat grill to medium high heat. Place chicken on grill and cook for about 10 minutes per side or until juices run clear. Chicken should be cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees F. The cooking time depends on how thick your chicken is and how similar each pieces is in size and thickness.


Baked Chicken Pesto with Fresh Tomatoes

This is one of my favorite recipes! I can bake a few chicken breasts with basic seasoning at the same time as the adult-version below! The recipe is for two chicken breasts so double or triple as needed.

2 chicken breasts 16 oz. each
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
4 tsp. prepared basil pesto
1 medium Roma tomato, sliced
6 Tbsp. shredded mozzarella cheese
2 tsp. grated parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking pan with aluminum foil. Rinse chicken, pat dry with a paper towel. Slice chicken breasts in half horizontally to form 4 cutlets. Season both sides with salt and pepper. Spread 1 teaspoon of pesto on each cutlet. Bake 15 minutes or until juices run clear and chicken is no longer pink in the middle (165 degrees F internal temp.) Remove from oven and top with cheese and tomato slices. Return to oven for about 5 minutes until cheese is melted.


Pan-Seared Stuffed Chicken Breast

I’m of the camp that is willing to try stuffing just about anything in a chicken breast to see what happens. This one is a result of my local grocery having a salad bar with lots of options

3 to 4 chicken breasts
2 tsp. finely chopped fresh thyme
1 tsp. finely chopped fresh oregano
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/4 c. sun-dried tomatoes in oil (drained), chopped
1/3 c. feta cheese, crumbled
Kosher salt
1 Tbsp. olive oil

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Using a sharp paring knife, slice a horizontal pocket in each chicken breast. In a small bowl, combine thyme, oregano, black pepper, tomatoes and feta. Stuff each chicken breast with an equal amount of mixture. Season top and bottom of breast with kosher salt and pepper. Heat olive oil in a skillet and sear the breasts for about 2 minutes on each side. Transfer to a foil-lined baking pan. Bake in oven for about 10 minutes until juices run clear and internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F. Amount of time is dictated by actual size of each chicken breast.


Chicken cooking and food safety tips

Source: National Chicken Council

See more at www.eatchicken.com.

Before you cook chicken

Refrigerate raw chicken promptly. Never leave it on countertop at room temperature.

Packaged fresh chicken may be refrigerated in original wrappings in the coldest part of the refrigerator.

Freeze uncooked chicken if it is not to be used within 2 days.

If properly packaged, frozen chicken will maintain top quality in a home freezer for up to 1 year.

Thaw chicken in the refrigerator—not on the countertop—or in cold water. It takes about 24 hours to thaw a 4-pound chicken in the refrigerator. Cut-up parts, 3 to 9 hours.

Chicken may be safely thawed in cold water. Place chicken in its original wrap or water-tight plastic bag in cold water. Change water often. It takes about 2 hours to thaw a whole chicken.

For quick thawing of raw or cooked chicken use the microwave. Thawing time will vary.

Always wash hands, countertops, cutting boards, knives and other utensils used in preparing raw chicken with soapy water before they come in contact with other raw or cooked foods.

While you’re cooking chicken

If chicken is stuffed, remove stuffing to a separate container before refrigerating.

When barbecuing chicken outdoors, keep refrigerated until ready to cook. Do not place cooked chicken on same plate used to transport raw chicken to grill.

Always cook chicken well done, not medium or rare. If using a meat thermometer, the internal temperature should reach 165 degrees F.

To check visually for doneness, pierce chicken with fork; juices should run clear—not pink—when fork is inserted with ease.

Marinade in which raw chicken has been soaking should never be used on cooked chicken.

After you cook chicken

Cooked, cut-up chicken is at its best refrigerated for no longer than 2 days—whole cooked chicken, an additional day.

If leftovers are to be reheated, cover to retain moisture and to ensure that chicken is heated all the way through. Bring gravies to a rolling boil before serving.

If you’re transporting cooked chicken, put it in an insulated container or ice chest until ready to eat. Keep below 40 degrees F or above 140 degrees F.

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