I love the spirit of Thanksgiving, the convergence of family members at my house and the aroma of holiday food – but sometimes I hate the redundancy. Fortunately, with a little ingenuity, I’ve come up with ways to tweak Thanksgiving tastes to give newness while preserving some of the holiday tradition. These changes won’t cost a fortune — they use ever-frugal and ever-fulfilling whole chicken or chicken parts. Recipes go well with traditional accompaniments such as sweet potatoes, macaroni and cheese, and green beans.
DRESSING-STUFFED CHICKEN BREASTS.
4 large boneless chicken breasts
4 cups of prepared dressing (or use Stove-Top Stuffing)
1 cup of fresh or thawed spinach, such as Green Giant Frozen Spinach.
½ cup of sliced mushrooms
½ Parmesan Cheese, such as Kraft shredded Parmesan
Breadcrumbs, ½ cup
Oregano, 1 teaspoon
Rinse chicken breasts. Pat dry. Slit sides of chicken breasts to create a pocket. With fingers, deepen and widen the pocket as much as possible for stuffing. Stuff ¼ cup of spinach inside each chicken breast. Mix ¼ cup of parmesan cheese and mushrooms with the stuffing and put ½ cup of the mixture inside each chicken breast, stuffing to overflowing. Hold slits closed with toothpicks.
Whip 2 eggs. In separate dish, mix breadcrumbs with remaining Kraft parmesan cheese , 1 teaspoon of oregano, and a sprinkle of black pepper. Dip chicken breasts into eggs and then roll in breadcrumb mixture, careful not to disturb the inside stuffing. Place chicken breasts on a baking pan sprayed with PAM non-stick spray. Spray PAM (Or Wesson non-stick spray) on top of each chicken breast. Or you can brush Extra Virgin Olive Oil on each breast. This step insures better browning. Bake the breasts in the oven at 400 degrees for 40 minutes. Serve over remaining stuffing.
ROASTED BEER-STEAMED CHICKEN WITH SQUASH RATATOUILLE
One can of your favorite beer, such as Michelob
Assorted Squash (3 total) , such as Yellow Squash, pumpkin squash, eggplant, zucchini etc.
Celery, 3 stalks.
Onion, 1 large yellow
Bell peppers, 1 large
Rinse Chicken, pat dry, rub thyme and rosemary under skin of chicken. Open can of beer and sit chicken on top of it upright in a roast pan. Lower chicken fully on top of the beer can. Arrange diced squash, onions, celery, bell pepper and any other vegetables you’d like in the roast pan. Cover with a tent of foil paper. Bake for one hour at 400 degrees. The beer will steam the chicken from the inside, making it succulent.
STEWED CHICKEN LEGS WITH CARROTS, YAMS, AND CRANBERRIES
8 chicken drumsticks
Yams or sweet potatoes, 1.5 pounds to 2 pounds
Cranberries (fresh or canned)
Green onions, 2 bunches
White wine, 1 cup
Chicken Broth, 2 cups (such as Swanson’s Chicken Broth)
Minced Garlic, 1 tablespoon
Olive Oil, 1 tablespoon
Flour, 2 tablespoons
Rinse chicken drumsticks and pat dry. Sprinkle flour with salt and pepper, In a large non-stick pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Dredge chicken drumsticks in flour mix and put in heated oil , browning for 5 minutes. Then remove to a platter. Chop and add yams, carrots, onion, garlic, cranberries , green onions to pot. Sprinkle in a teaspoon of rosemary and a ½ teaspoon of nutmeg. Brown the vegetables for 5 minutes. Add wine and cook for 5 more minutes. Return chicken drumsticks to pot and pour in chicken broth. Bring to boil. Turn pot down to a simmer, cover, cook for 25 minutes.
GLAZED CHICKEN THIGHS WITH CINNAMON APPLE, PECAN DRESSING
8 chicken things
4 yellow apples
Pecans (or substitute walnuts), 1/2 cup
Chicken broth, like Swanson’s, 1/2 cup to 1 cup.
Olive oil, 2 tablespoons
Orange Juice, 3/4 cup
Honey, 2 tablespoons
Rinse the chicken thighs. Saute chopped apples, celery, onions, garlic and chopped pecans in olive oil or butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add a dash of cinnamon. Mix apple mixture with stuffing. Add a ½ cup of chicken broth to stuffing – add more if you desire a moister consistency. Fill roast pan with vegetable stuffing mixture. Rub rosemary and thyme under the skin of the chicken thighs. Heat orange juice and honey on stove top for 2 minutes. Brush chicken exterior with orange juice glaze. Lay thighs in roast pan on top of stuffing. Bake chicken for one hour at 400 degrees.