In a continuing collaboration with Scott over at Straight to the Bar, we wrote about food and recipes for the month of January. I’d like to finish the month up by offering a few of my favorite chicken recipes.
Chicken is a great source of protein because it contains all of the essential amino acids in the correct proportions required by the human body for optimum growth of lean tissue. If you have a local butcher or farm, it might be worth investigating the possibility of purchasing your chicken through them rather than getting prepackaged chicken at the grocery store.
In my experience, buying chicken from the farm or the butcher yields a bird that has not been injected with water to make it appear plumper (or to add to the weight before purchase!) I prefer the taste of fresher chicken, although it cooks faster and can become dried out easier if you aren’t careful while you are cooking.
Here are 2 of my favorite chicken recipes, which are both quick and easy to prepare. I recommend warming up a good loaf of bread to serve alongside of either meal.
Chicken & Caper Linguine
The first dish I would like to describe is a chicken and caper dish. You can substitute scallops or shrimp for the chicken pretty easily. I have not had much luck substituting with tofu and haven’t bothered continuing to try.
- 1 large or 2 small boneless skinless chicken breasts
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
- 1 or 2 cloves of garlic
- Spices to taste (I like pepper and basil)
Heat up a small amount of olive oil in a skillet and start a pasta pot full of water to boil. While the oil is heating up, cut the chicken into short strips or cubes and then add it to the frying pan. Chop or mince the garlic and let that cook along with the chicken. The chicken should be cooked through around the same time as the water begins boiling.
While the linguine is cooking, add the capers and seasonings to the chicken and oil. The oil is going to be a sauce, so you may want to add a small amount more. Once the linguine is done cooking, drain the water and then mix in the chicken and caper sauce.
Total preparation and cooking time: Less than 20 minutes.
If you are cooking with scallops, then you will not need much oil until they are cooked through and will need to drain some of the sea water from them before adding the garlic or capers.
Lemon Pepper Chicken Parm
The second chicken dish that I enjoy cooking is chicken parmesan. I like to make mine taste a little lemony, which provides a nice counterpoint to the red sauce.
- 1 to 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
- Spaghetti or Linguine
- Lemon Juice
- Lemon Pepper seasoning
- Pasta Sauce
- Mozzarella Cheese
- Parmesan Cheese (a brick, not the pre-grated junk)
- 1 or 2 carrots
- Bread Crumbs
Preheat the oven to 350° to 375°. Clean the chicken breasts and cut off any extra fat; it isn’t needed to flavor the chicken. Pound it flat using a meat mallet to tenderize the chicken. If you have large chicken breasts, you may want to slice them down the center.
Prepare a bowl with lemon juice (or freshly squeezed lemon) and a paper bag full of bread crumbs and lemon pepper seasoning (or lemon zest and ground pepper.) Coat the chicken with lemon juice and shake inside the bag to coat with bread crumbs. Cook for 18 to 22 minutes.
While the chicken is cooking, peel and chop up a carrot and cook in a small sauce pan with the pasta sauce. I recommend Classico Spicy Red Pepper sauce, but any sauce that is more of a sauce and less a paste will do. Set a pot of water to boil.
About 3 to 5 minutes before the chicken is ready to be taken out, start cooking your pasta. After the chicken has been cooking for 18 to 22 minutes, pull it out and make sure it is cooked through. Coat the top of the chicken with pasta sauce (I recommend leaving the carrots in the sauce and not putting them on the chicken) and further season the sauce on top of the chicken with your lemon pepper or lemon zest and ground pepper. Cover with some grated parmesan and mozzarella cheese and cook for another 3 to 5 minutes. The cheese should be well melted around the same time that the pasta is ready to be drained and served.
Total preparation and cooking time: About 30 minutes