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Friday, 13 January 2017 13:29

Chicken rules the dinner table

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Potpies are a good way to use up leftover chicken or turkey. Make your own crust or buy a prepared one. Pillsbury makes a gluten-free crust that’s pretty tasty and easy to work with. Potpies are a good way to use up leftover chicken or turkey. Make your own crust or buy a prepared one. Pillsbury makes a gluten-free crust that’s pretty tasty and easy to work with. Pillsbury.com

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, back in 1967 Americans ate per capita nearly 131 pounds of pork, beef or lamb, 37 pounds of poultry and 11 pounds of seafood. Fifty years later, we are projected to eat 57 pounds of red meat — down from a high of nearly 100 pounds in 1976. We are expected to consume more chicken this year, about 108 pounds per person. So, while our red meat consumption goes down, our taste for chicken, turkey and other poultry continues to go up.

These numbers didn’t really surprise me, but the seafood numbers did. I would have suspected we were eating more seafood, but according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, we ate just under 16 pounds of seafood per person in 2015.

The fact is, chicken is king of the dinner table. And although there are hundreds of ways to cook chicken, the tried and true recipes reign supreme, proving that simple is sometimes best and comfort food is better than best.

Bon Appetit, Taste of Home and Epicurious magazines all list roasted chicken and chicken potpie in their top 10 best recipes.

While chicken can be prepared in many ways, there are a few things to look for when buying one.

• ORGANIC — Grown without antibiotics; they cannot be genetically modified, irradiated or cloned. They must have access to the outdoors.

• Raised Without Antibiotics — It has not received any antibiotics during the course of its lifetime.

• Free-Range — This may not be what you imagine. The USDA allows this label to be placed on any poultry product that has had open-air access for a minimum of five minutes per day.

• Hormone-Free — The USDA prohibits the use of hormones in raising chickens. This is simply marketing what is true for everyone.

Roasted chicken

1 whole roasting chicken, about 3 to 4 pounds

1 lemon, cut in wedges

1 bunch tarragon

3 to 4 green onions or chives

4 Tbsps. butter

 Empty cavity of chicken and tuck the wings underneath. Rinse completely and pat dry. Stuff the cavity with lemon, tarragon (keep a bit in reserve) and onions. Rub the entire outside of the chicken with the butter and sprinkle with some finely chopped tarragon. Place the chicken on a rack inside a heavy roaster. Place in a preheated 450 F oven and roast for 15 minutes, then turn the heat down to 325, cover and continue roasting for 45 to 60 minutes or until a thermometer reads 160 F. Serve on a platter with roasted vegetables.

Chicken potpie

— This is one of my favorite things to cook up using leftover chicken or turkey. My grandma taught me how to make pie dough and revealed the secret to rolling it out: Don’t worry about being perfect; repair any cracks and carry on. For a beef potpie, substitute cooked beef and use cream of mushroom soup.

I always thought it strange that Grandma used the canned soup because she made most things from scratch. But she would say it’s better to use some convenience products and get it done than not do it at all. More good advice. Get it done, then make it better if you have extra time.

1 double crust for a 9-inch pie

2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted

1 tsp. salt

2/3 cup butter

5 to 7 Tbsps. cold water

Potpie filling:

2 cups cooked chicken or turkey, cut into 1-inch pieces

2 cups frozen mixed vegetables

1 can cream of chicken soup (23 to 33 ounces)

1/2 cup of milk

1 Tbsp. dried, chopped parsley

1/2 tsp. garlic powder

 To make crust: Using a pastry cutter, cut the butter into the flour. Add salt and water. Mix until dough is formed. Divide dough in half and roll out. Place bottom crust in the pie tin. Add the cooked chicken and mixed vegetables.

In a separate bowl, mix the unreconstituted soup together with the 1/2 cup of milk. Mix in parsley and garlic powder. Pour this mixture over the chicken and vegetables. Cover with the top pie crust and seal the edges. Cut three or four air vents in the top crust. Place the pie on a cookie sheet and bake in a 350 F oven for 40 to 50 minutes or until the crust is browned. Remove from oven, let cool for 10 to 15 minutes before serving.

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