Because of their life-cylces chickens tend to form a plentiful and cheap supply of meat and have done so, in Europe, from at least the Iron age. Indeed, chickens have been part of human societies since this time. What is interesting, tough, is that chickens have been domesticated twice in human history. Once in Asia, giving us the Asiatic chicken and once somewhere around the Mediterranean area (Europe, North Africa and the Near East) which gives us the chicken type that's most familiar to us today.
Chicken meat, when cooked with care is moist and succulent, which is another reason it's favoured world over. It does not dry out when flash-fried (such as in stir-frying) but it can also be cooked in stews (one pot cooking is still the typical cooking method in much of the world) and it lends itself to European-style roasting or to barbecuing or grilling.
As chicken is not an overly strong meat it also lends itself to be flavoured by the dish in which it is cooked, thus increasing its versatility and even a chicken carcass can be turned into a basic chicken stock or soup, meaning that little of the animal is wasted.
Chickens also supply us with eggs, vastly increasing their culinary usefulness. Below are two chicken recipes, illustrating how chicken can be cooked in very different ways. The first of these is a classic South African Baked Chicken:
South African Baked Chicken
1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 medium onions, chopped
1 large slice white bread
900g chicken, finely diced
salt and freshly-ground black pepper to taste
3 tsp curry powder
1 tbsp brown sugar
juice of 1 lemon
50g chopped almonds (and a few more for garnish)
80g chopped bramley (or other tart) apple
1 medium onion, sliced and separated into rings (for garnish)
Heat the oil in a frying pan over moderate heat and fry the chopped onions until tender and translucent (about 4 minutes). Remove from the pan and reserve.
Meanwhile soak the bread in the milk. Squeeze out the excess milk and reserve both bread and milk for later use. In a large bowl, combine the fried onions, bread, chicken, salt, pepper, curry powder, brown sugar, lemon juice, chopped almonds, raisins, apple and 1 egg. Combine to mix thoroughly with your hands.
Place the meat mixture in a greased casserole dish and bake, uncovered, in an oven pre-heated to 120°C for 30 minutes. Mix together the remaining eggs with the reserved milk and pour over the meat mixture. Decorate with the onion rings and extra almonds. Raise the oven temperature to 180°C and bake for an additional 45 minutes.
The next recipe is for a classic barbecued chicken adapted to be cooked in a crockpot:
4-6 chicken pieces (breast, thigh or drumsticks)
250ml barbecue sauce
120ml white wine vinegar
80g brown sugar
1 tsp mesquite seasoning
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp chilli flakes
Combine the barbecue sauce with all the other ingredients (apart from the chicken). Place the chicken in your slow cooker (crockpot) and pour the sauce you've just made over the top. Allow to cook slowly on low heat for about 4 1/2 hours. Serve with baked beans, coleslaw and buttered new potatoes.
I hope that you have enjoyed these recipes and that you want to find out more about the ways that this most versatile meat can be cooked.
Users Reading this article are also interested in: