Chef's Hat: Chicken is popular because of its versatility
Each American eats approximately 120 pounds of chicken each year.
Although pork is the most consumed meat in the world, in the United States chicken is king.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, chicken started climbing in popularity in the 1940s and overtook pork as the most popular meat in America around 1996.
Chicken has continued to stay at the top of the list for America’s favorite meat since that time. It is estimated that each American eats approximately 120 pounds of chicken each year.
One of the reasons that chicken is such a popular dish is its versatility. It combines with a variety of flavors, from hot and spicy to sweet and sour.
Chicken can be baked, broiled, grilled, stewed and sauteed. Chicken does not have an overpowering flavor so it can be used as a base for casseroles and soups, the main ingredient in sandwiches and a compliment in pasta and lettuce salads.
Chicken is rich in protein and does not contain much fat. It has an abundance of vitamins and minerals, including iron, zinc and vitamin B.
Because chicken thighs are a fattier cut of meat, they are more tender than the breast meat of the chicken. The flavor of thighs is more intense and richer than the white meat parts of the chicken, so they produce a more flavorful dish.
Thighs are quick and easy to cook, which makes them ideal for a weeknight dinner.
Potatoes are a good side dish for any type of meat, poultry or fish. You can’t get much simpler than a baked potato. Depending on the size, a baked potato can take an hour (or even longer) to cook. Way too long if you are trying to get a quick meal on the table.
Twice baked potatoes can be made ahead of time and kept in the refrigerator if they are going to be used in the next few days. Or they can be frozen.
You’ll find that having a stash of frozen twice baked potatoes comes in handy as they are a great accompaniment to a variety of main dishes.
After a long day at work, it isn’t always easy to get a home-cooked meal on the table in a short amount of time. With a little advance planning, you can have a delicious and satisfying meal on the table in about 30 minutes. Happy Eating!
Honey Glazed Chicken Thighs
- 4 to 6 chicken thighs (bone in or boneless)
- 1/3 cup honey
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon thyme
Heat the oven to 450 degrees. Spray a baking dish or pan with nonstick cooking spray.
Sprinkle the chicken liberally with salt and pepper. Place the thighs in the prepared pan, skin side down.
Place the honey, vinegar, soy sauce, mustard and thyme in a measuring cup. Mix well. Pour approximately half of the sauce over the chicken.
Place the chicken into the oven and bake for 12 minutes. Remove chicken from the oven, flip the chicken and pour the remaining sauce over the chicken. Sprinkle paprika over the top of the chicken pieces.
Return the thighs to the oven and bake for an additional 15 to 20 minutes until the chicken is browned and has an internal temperature of 165 degrees. If the chicken is getting too brown and crispy, remove it from the oven and cover the pan with foil. Then return it to the oven and finish baking.
Twice Baked Potatoes
- 5 medium sized potatoes
- Olive oil
- 2 teaspoons salt
- ½ teaspoon white pepper
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- 4 ounces bacon, cooked and crumbled
- 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- ½ cup shredded Swiss cheese
- 1 cup sour cream (potato chip dip can be used instead)
- 4 tablespoons butter or margarine
- 5 green onions chipped
- Additional paprika
Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil. Rub the potatoes with olive oil. Season the potatoes with 1 teaspoon salt and the black pepper. Prick the potatoes a couple of times with a fork. Put the potatoes on the baking sheet and bake until they are fork tender, one hour to one hour and fifteen minutes.
Remove potatoes from the oven and let them sit until they are cool enough to handle.
Cut the potatoes in half. Scoop the pulp out of each potato and place the pulp into a large bowl. Place the empty skins on a plate.
Using a potato masher, mash the potatoes until smooth. Add the remaining salt, white pepper, ¾ cup of the cheddar cheese, Swiss cheese, sour cream, bacon, and butter to the potato pulp. Use a masher or a hand mixer and blend the mixture until smooth.
Spoon the potato mixture back into the potato shells. Top with the remaining cheese and green onions, and sprinkle paprika over the top.
Place the potatoes back in the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes until the cheese is melted.
To refrigerate or freeze the potatoes: Top potatoes with cheese, but do not use the green onions or paprika. The potatoes can be refrigerated for 2-4 days. The potatoes can be placed into zipped bags and placed in the freezer for 4-6 weeks.
When ready to bake, remove the potatoes from the refrigerator (or freezer) and set them on a baking pan. Heat the oven to 400 degrees. If frozen, let the potatoes thaw for 15-30 minutes. Top potatoes with the green onions and sprinkle the paprika over the tops. Bake for 15-20 minutes just until the cheese melts.
Donna Evans is an Echo Journal correspondent.