You’ve heard the complaints. The whining. The faux hunger strikes. Chicken again?! I’m sprouting feathers! Chants of “No More Chicken! No More Chicken!” ring in your ears. Your family is officially OVER chicken. How could such an innocent little bird conjure up so much dread? Well, the average American eats nearly 200 pounds of meat a year and sixty of it is poultry. No wonder chicken gets such a bad rap.
Chicken: The Perfect Protein
But if you are a busy mom, you know that chicken is healthy, economical, and cooks up quick. We definitely had chicken fatigue at my house, so I was thrilled to find these two recipes that were so good that picky D2 and Dr. D. gobbled them up. The first recipe comes from one of my favorite food blogs Mom’s Kitchen Handbook. This recipe for Vietnamese Slow Cooker Chicken with Vegetables combines everything I like: complex flavors, the cruch of baby bok choy and meaty, iron-rich chicken thighs. Everything cooks up right in your slow cooker so it’s super fast and easy to make. I’ve made this recipe twice and the family just loves it. We serve it with brown rice but you can go low-carb and eat as is or serve it with basmati or fragrant jasmine rice. This recipe comes directly from Mom’s Kitchen Handbook so do pop over there to check out author Katie Morford’s fabulous site.
Vietnamese Slow Cooker Chicken with Baby Bok Choy
• 6 skinless, bone-in chicken thighs
• 1 ½ tablespoons soy sauce
• 1 ½ tablespoons fish sauce
• ½ teaspoon black pepper
• 4 cloves garlic, chopped
• 1 tablespoon canola oil
• 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar. divided
• 1 ½ pounds baby bok choy
Lay the chicken thighs in the slow cooker with the fleshier side facing down. In a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, fish sauce, black pepper, garlic, canola oil, and 1 tablespoon of the brown sugar. Pour over the chicken, put on the lid, and cook on low for 6 hours or on high for 3 hours. The time may vary a depending on the size of the chicken thighs.
When the chicken is nearly done, cut the heads of baby bok choy in half down the center and remove the little wedge of core. Roughly chop the bok choy and wash thoroughly. Five or 10 minutes before the cooking time is up, remove the chicken from the pot. Stir the second tablespoon of brown sugar into the sauce and add the bok choy, immersing it in the cooking liquid. Set the chicken back in the pot on top of the bok choy and replace the lid. Set the pot to high and cook until the bok choy is tender (about 8 minutes or so).
Cook’s Note: Fish sauce (nam pla) is an essential ingredient to this and other South East Asian-inspired dishes. It’s what gives Thai and Vietnamese food its earthy flavor. You may be tempted to leave it out but don’t. The best varieties can be found in Asian and other speciality food markets but your larger grocery store will also carry fish sauce. Also, I like to add just a couple more tablespoons of brown sugar to the recipe as I find it really brightens up the other flavors. Finally, I’m a big fan of organic meats. Yes, they cost a bit more but if you can find locally raised organic chicken, I think you’ll find the flavor far superior to that produced by Big Poultry.
Next up is the insanely delicious Morraccan Chicken and Lentils from the Eat-Clean Diet Cookbook. This cookbook is a must for your collection if you are trying to eat healthily. This recipe is full of earthy flavors of cumin, chili powder and onion. Even if you never eat beans, give this recipe as try as the flavors are just outstanding.
Morroccan Chicken and Lentils
- 8 C water
3 tsp sea salt, divided
1 lb dried lentils, rinsed, drained, and picked over
1/4 C plus 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 C red wine vinegar
3 Tbsp ground cumin, divided
2 Tbsp plus 2 tsp chili powder
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
2 lbs skinless, boneless chicken breast, thinly sliced
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 cup fresh cilantro (or parsley)
1. Combine water and 1 tsp sea salt in stock pot over high heat. Add lentils. Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to medium. Simmer until lentils are soft, about 20-25 minutes. Drain well. Rinse under cold water and drain well. Place in large bowl and set aside.
2. In small bowl, mix 1/4 C olive oil, vinegar, 2 Tbsp cumin, 2 Tbsp chili powder, garlic, and 1 tsp sea salt. Pour this dressing over lentils. Toss gently and let cool.
3. In large skillet heat 2 Tbsp olive oil. Add onion and saute until well cooked, about 5 minutes. Onions should appear dark brown and soft. Add chicken and saute 2 minutes more. Add 1 tsp sea salt, 1 Tbsp cumin, 2 tsp chili powder, and 1/4 tsp cinnamon. Saute until chicken is cooked through.
4. Arrange lentils on a large serving platter. Place sliced chicken on top of lentils. Use remaining dressing and pour over chicken. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro. Serve at room temperature. Serves 8.
Voila! I hope these recipes will reignite your faith in the lowly yard bird. Have a favorite chicken recipe? Do share.