Wednesday, May 10, 2017

How to find the perfect Chicken recipe for your family

Are you like me and you love your cookbooks and want to know how to utilize chicken in your recipes? I own lots of cookbooks, I got overwhelmed with all these Chicken recipes and I end up roasting the chicken and for a side dish, I do mac and cheese! Does that ever happen to you? (you say no way, I am a way too awesome for that.) Then it’s just me, right?

I have narrowed my search for good chicken recipes into 3 categories:
Type of cooking method is it fried, baked, roasted, grilled, shredded (slow cooked.) or Sous Vide.
Type of meal is it a casserole or a stand-alone portion.
Prep process does it need to be marinated, or brined, or cooked all day, do I have to debone it before I cook it or can I after.

All of the categories mentioned plays a part in getting the perfect recipe. And don’t worry I don’t always follow the prep part of the recipe, because I know that if the end result is to shred the chicken, then I have that covered from freezing and shredding a couple chickens at once. I just need time to defrost it from my freezer.

The type of recipes can all coexist but I usually can look at the recipe and within 3 seconds know if it’s worthy of my time. When it comes to recipes I know what will work, or doesn’t work in my kitchen.

This is what I do:

Know your audience: I start off with the right cookbook, if I am wanting a family friendly chicken dinner I always go to those Church cookbooks, (the ones that are spiral bound and looks like it’s from your community you grew up in,) then you're in the right place. If you want a chicken dinner to impress you may want an everyday Italian cookbook or even the Pioneer woman cookbook. Knowing who you are cooking for helps a ton when looking for a chicken recipe. Look for cookbooks that have a specific ingredient index, that will help aid in your search.

Start with the recipe title, what clues can I get from the title: Here are some clues that I know right off the bat if my family will eat that or not, or if the recipe is worthy of my time, all the while I am not getting into the ingredient section. Focus on the title of the recipe. Here are some examples:
Baked Chicken: can mean that it’s a bit healthier and fast, but not all the time… look at how long it says it will be ready
Stuffed Chicken Breasts: really mean, more time and energy that I might not have to devote too unless it’s for a dinner party or a special occasion I am not making this for my family.
Creamy x and chicken: really means this is a casserole, perfect for those long winter nights…
Mr perfect chicken salad: really means precooked chicken with salad-like ingredients. That might be worth my time if I have a family picnic, but not as a family supper.
Chicken pesto with pasta: a healthy alternative to a creamy sauce, and easy if you buy pesto, or cheap if you grow your own herbs for pesto, a must try for this family.
Favorite herb Chicken: example: lemon and rosemary chicken, usually a marinade or a flavor enhancer to add flavor, usually a roasted, sous vide or grilled type recipe that is very open ended.

Smothered Chicken: lots of cheese or sauce loaded with seasoning to make it spicy and delectable. (best done at a restaurant and not at my house… (just kidding)) This recipe does take some time to make.

Blackened Chicken: it’s roasted usually with lots of spices on the skin that you can taste through the chicken. This one is also a great recipe that usually calls for roasting, Sous Vide, or baked.

Knowing the title can make all the difference in giving up on finding the perfect recipe, and knowing the dish, the way it’s prepared and having an idea of how labor intensive will help with finding the right recipe.

At first glance of the recipe, if the ingredients are more than 5 ingredients long I usually skip that recipe, I am in it to feed my family, not become a gourmet chef, usually, If I am looking for a more upscale recipe then I can go into the more time intensive recipes.

I have a small rule when it comes to the rest of the recipe, the ingredients need to be one that I can access easy, It should be in my well-stocked pantry or something I can pick up next time I am at the store. It should also be something that isn’t expensive that I may again for a while. Usually, if it’s a spice that I don’t hardly use, if it’s in a small spice jar for about a $1 then I will get it. Be careful with different types of oils, sometimes it’s not worth the extra money, (spices and olive oil that you can make your own for a fraction of the cost.)

Another thing I look at is the brand name of some of the ingredients, I usually substitute brand name items for the store brand if it’s comparable, sometimes it’s not and I end up getting the name brand product.

Finding the right Chicken recipe is a process, I like to think of it as a culinary journey. Most of the time I find a good grilling or marinade recipe that I can sous vide or roast and I am golden for like 6 months, because with one open-ended recipe I can add different sides, I can change up how I present it, (chicken breast, quarters, shredded on a bun, all with one recipe. So it’s not that you need 50 good recipes you need one good open-ended recipe that you can do more with.

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