Sunday, May 08, 2011

Easy No-Hands Chicken!!

I talk about food all the time… there are people in my life that wish that wasn’t true and there are others that at least appear to be interested in what I have to say. I am constantly thinking about new ways to make food appeal to my family, to ensure I take into account everyone’s allergies, and to make it healthy. I grew up with good food, my southern family always made amazing dishes, fried chicken, creamed corn, cornbread, chess pie… and my western family brought their depression era recipes to the table with dishes like crumbs, Salisbury steak, homemade pudding, and peanut butter chocolate cake. Is it no wonder I have always been a big guy. So in order to carry those food traditions forward for my children and to ensure they don’t end up overweight or with other health issues, I feel it is important to make real food and make it delicious.  Maybe it is a subconscious thought process that is always in the back of my head or maybe I am just weird, but I am always thinking about I can do with food.
This leads me to write and try to document some of what I am doing and it also leads me to find economical, healthy ways to feed my family in a way that will allow them to enjoy real food, slow food, and healthful food. Oh and I want to make it easy, that is not so much to ask, right? I hope not. My hope is that every person, family, couple,  group tries to make the transition away from the garbage we normally put into our bodies and realize that you can eat better and it does not have to be time consuming or expensive.
Eating healthy is expensive and it takes too much time, quite a few people tell me that there is no time in their day and they do not have the money to buy groceries to make meals. I say nay nay.. I do think it takes practice and I think it will take some additional effort at first. You have to plan ahead and you have to make a decision that you are going to be better to your body and your family’s bodies.
Cheep Chicken… (get it cheep, cheep?) Anyway I love my chicken and the versatility of this excellent protein source is endless. Yes it is expensive to buy the breasts, the tenderloins, etc., but there are several ways to stretch your dollar.
Chicken legs are typically around $1 per pound and are quick to cook and kids love the idea of meat on a stick, chicken quarters are even less I bought a package this week for 79 cents per pound, and then whole chickens are around a $1 to $1.50 per pound.
Dark meat? Really? Yes, I know everyone has a preference and there are people that will tell you that dark meat has more fat then white meat, and that is true, but you can’t tell me that a roasted chicken thigh has nearly the same amount of fat as fast food hamburger.
I used to be scared of cooking chicken, I was worried that I would not cook it enough and it would make us sick, or I would cook it too much and it would be tasteless and dry. Now I think I have stumbled the fool proof way to cook juicy delicious chicken and it is extremely easy.
Hand off Chicken Quarters
4 lbs washed chicken quarters
Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Prepare a cooking vessel, (I have used cookie sheets with a rack, and I have used 9x13 stoneware pans) by lining it with foil for easy cleanup.
Place chicken in pan on rack and season liberally with your choice of spices and herbs (I like the Montreal steak seasoning)
Place in over for 1 hour (set a timer) after one hour reduce temperature to 300 degrees and set timer for another hour. After the second hour turn off the oven and let the chicken rest for about 30 minutes. Now the chicken is ready. I have cut off the legs for the kids and deboned the thighs (your choice on the skin, remove or include). I use the meat in omelets, chicken salads, tacos, burritos, etc.
I realize that two and a half hours is a long time, but I typically put the chicken in the oven while I am cooking dinner and after dinner and family time I take a moment to prepare the meat for future meals. I have heard this called investment cooking and I think that the investment is in your health. No go cook something.

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