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Out of the Fryer

The ultimate meal stretcher – chicken – doesn’t have to be so boring.

Out of the Fryer
By Virginia Manuel

Can anyone ever have too many chicken recipes? Not when you consider that the average cook is charged with preparing between 200 and 250 dinners a year (allowing that most families dine out or consume carryout a few times a week). And not when you consider that more and more nutrition experts recommend getting our protein from lean meat sources like boneless chicken breasts. Add to that the hectic lives we all lead, and boneless chicken breasts make even more sense because they usually can be cooked start to finish in under an hour. In fact, you can think of them as the ultimate convenience food.

There are hundreds of ways you can combine boneless breasts with herbs, pasta or rice, fruit, vegetables and various flavorings to create impressive, satisfying entrees. The price tag for this meat has escalated over the past few years – especially if you favor the free range and/or organic varieties. But there is no waste, and you can add other meal-stretching ingredients, making them a culinary bargain.

To freshen up your repertory of easy, delectable chicken entrees, here are three new recipes.

Warm Chicken-Raspberry Salad

For casual summer entertaining, this colorful salad makes a sensational entree. Accompany with sourdough bread and a light, fruity wine. The dressing uses raspberry vinegar, which complements the fresh berries, but if you prefer, you can use white balsamic or white wine vinegar.

DRESSING:
2 minced shallots
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, minced
¼ teaspoon pepper
¼ teaspoon salt
⅓ cup raspberry vinegar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
½ cup olive oil
¼ cup canola oil

SALAD:
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, minced
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
2 teaspoons olive oil
4 boneless chicken breast halves
1 large head romaine lettuce, washed and dried
½ cup toasted walnuts
1 cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
1 cup fresh raspberries


A few hours before serving, prepare the dressing by whisking together the first 6 ingredients in a small bowl. Slowly add both oils, whisking until smooth. Set aside. For the chicken, combine the thyme, salt, pepper and olive oil and brush this mixture over the chicken pieces. Place on a foil-lined baking sheet and bake in a 425-degree oven for 25 minutes. (You can also cook chicken on a grill.) Drizzle the cooked breasts with 2 tablespoons of the dressing and let the meat cool slightly. Cut into small strips. Just before serving, assemble the salad. Tear the lettuce into bite-sized pieces and arrange in a large salad bowl. Top with the chicken, walnuts and cheese. Toss with the dressing until thoroughly coated. Garnish with the raspberries and serve immediately. Serves 4 to 6.

Oven-Fried Dijon Chicken
Oven-Fried Dijon Chicken

Oven-Fried Dijon Chicken

If you enjoy the crunchy goodness of fried chicken but would rather forgo the extra calories, try this no-fuss treatment. Dijon mustard and grated Parmesan cheese both impart a marvelous flavor. Using Panko bread crumbs will provide a crispier texture.

4 meaty boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
1 (5-ounce) can evaporated milk
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 cup bread crumbs
⅓ cup grated Parmesan cheese


Pat chicken breasts dry with paper towels and slice in half horizontally so that you have eight pieces. In a shallow bowl, combine the evaporated milk and mustard. In another shallow bowl, combine the bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese. Dip the meat first in the milk mixture and then in the bread crumb mixture. Arrange in a spray-coated baking dish and bake, uncovered, in a preheated 425-degree oven for 25 minutes or until cooked through. Serves 6 to 8.


Marmalade Chicken

This low-fat entree proves that chicken tenders can be enjoyed without deep-frying them and dipping in barbecue sauce! Serve over steamed rice, couscous or quinoa.

1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons orange marmalade
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 pound chicken tenders
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 shallots, minced
1 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest


In a medium bowl, whisk the first five ingredients together until smooth. Sprinkle the chicken tenders with salt and pepper. Heat 4 teaspoons of the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook until golden, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate and cover with foil to keep meat warm. Add the remaining 2 teaspoons of oil and the shallots to the skillet and cook, stirring often, until beginning to brown, about 30 seconds. Whisk the broth mixture and add it to the pan. Bring to a simmer, scraping up any browned bits. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer. Cook until the sauce is slightly reduced and thickened, about 2 minutes longer. Add the chicken and return to a simmer. Cook, turning once, until the chicken is heated through. Remove from the heat and stir in the orange zest. Serves 4.

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