Chicken is the most universally popular of all meats. And deservedly so. A singularly versatile meal-maker, it features in such national or regional dishes as Arabian couscous, Hungarian chicken paprika, Florentine polla alla diavola, Indonesian sambal hati hati, Indian vindaloo, Japanese oyako donburi, Chinese beggar’s chicken, Spanish olla podrida, Malayan satay, Russian kurnik and South African peri peri to name but a few.
The blandness of chicken gets the creative juices flowing in most cooks. Chicken has been flavoured, stuffed, basted or garnished with almost every other food you can think of, notably including anise, apples, beans, bacon, cinnamon, crabs, fennel, ginger, grape jelly, herbs, lemons, lime juice, maple syrup, marmalade, mushrooms, nutmeg, oranges, oysters, peanut butter, sake, sesame seeds, soy sauce, truffles and vinegar.
Economical chicken is of course a firm favourite in most New Zealand homes. And there is a strict testing programme run by MAF which ensures that no poultry producer breaks the law. Chickens are not genetically engineered nor are hormones used to enhance growth or health.
So just enjoy. To paraphrase a popular saying — You can count your chickens when it comes to hatching great meals.
PAPRIKA ROAST CHICKEN
1 1/2 tablespoons paprika
1/2 teaspoon each: ground cinnamon, salt
pinch cayenne pepper, optional
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1.5kg whole chicken
2 large onions, each cut into 6 wedges
Preheat the oven to 160°C.
Combine the paprika, cinnamon, salt, cayenne pepper (if using) and oil.
Truss the chicken. Brush with the paprika mixture covering the entire surface. Place the onions in a roasting pan. Place the chicken on top. Add about 1 cup of water to the pan.
Roast the chicken for 30 minutes per 500g plus an extra 10 minutes. Add a little extra water to the pan, if necessary, during cooking.
Remove from the chicken from the oven, tent with foil, and stand for 10 minutes before carving. Serves 4-5.
SIMPLE CHICKEN PAELLA
Ground or powdered chipotle is milder than many chilli powders but provides great flavour depth to dishes.
400g skinned and boned chicken breasts, cut into strips
1 teaspoon each: ground chipotle, dried oregano
1-2 tablespoons canola oil
1 each: onion, garlic clove, diced
1 1/4 cups long grain rice
1 large tomato, diced
2 1/2 cups chicken stock
2 cups mixed frozen vegetables eg diced carrots, beans, peas, corn
Dust the chicken with the chipotle and oregano. Heat half the oil in a large non-stick frying pan. Stir-fry the chicken until just cooked. Place aside.
Sauté the onion in the remaining oil, until tender. Stir in the garlic and rice. Add the tomato and stock. Cover and simmer for about 12 minutes, until cooked. Add the vegetables and chicken and heat through. Serves 4.