Breaking out the slow cooker; September is wild rice month
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Chef Heather Hunsaker of foodonthetable.com gives these tips for making a chicken dinner even better.
‰Chicken should be bought from a reputable grocer. To purchase the freshest chicken possible, look for chicken with the newest package date.
‰Avoid chicken that is transparent or dark in color, and has excessive liquid in the package.
‰Once home, refrigerate chicken immediately, storing chicken on the bottom shelf in the coldest part of the refrigerator and using within two days.
‰If freezing, freeze immediately after purchasing by wrapping individual chicken pieces in freezer paper or aluminum foil before placing in freezer safe zip-top baggies. Chicken should be stored in the coldest part of the freezer and can be kept frozen for up to nine months.
‰Properly thawing frozen chicken is important for food safety. Never thaw chicken on the counter. Frozen chicken should be thawed in the refrigerator, approximately five hours per pound or overnight. Cooking chicken that is completely thawed will yield best results, as cooking with frozen or slightly frozen chicken will require longer cooking times and can affect the overall outcome of the dish.
‰While once common practice, it is not necessary to wash chicken prior to cooking. This outdated practice can cause bacteria to splash all over the kitchen. To avoid further spread of bacteria, use a plastic cutting board and other utensil exclusively for raw chicken. Once finished with prep, wash utensils and hands with hot soapy water and use paper towels to clean any spills.
‰If marinating, marinate chicken in the refrigerator to prevent bacteria. Never baste chicken with marinade raw chicken has touched. Prepare a separate marinated for basting or boil the original marinade for three or four minutes to kill bacteria.
‰Chicken should reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees to be cooked thoroughly.
Here’s a recipe by Hunsaker making use of the family favorite.
CROCK POT SANTA FE CHICKEN
1 1/2 pounds chicken breast
1 (14.5 ounce can) diced tomatoes with green chilies
1 (15.5 ounce can) black beans
1 cup frozen corn
1 (14.5 ounce can) fat free chicken broth
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
salt and black pepper, to taste
Combine chicken broth, beans, corn, tomatoes, garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, and chili powder in the crock pot. Season chicken breast with salt and black pepper and place in crock-pot. Cook on low for 8 hours or on high for five hours. Half hour before serving, remove chicken and shred. Return chicken to slow cooker and stir in. Adjust salt and pepper.
Serve as desired; over rice or with tortillas, topped with desired toppings such as sour cream, cheese, green onions or fresh cilantro.
Rice is a natural with chicken and in many cultures, more common that the potato. Real fans of the versatile grain might want to know about the board’s annual wild rice recipe contest.
Each year, contestants submit their wild rice creations which compete a taste test conducted by culinary specialists to determine which recipes will befinalists. This year, 10 finalists made the cut and will be featured in an online contest celebrating National Rice Month. America will vote for their favorite recipe to determine the $500 grand prize winner. Voting got under way Sept. 1; vote at mnwildrice.org, where you also can sign up to be notified when recipes will be solicited for our 2013 contest.
The National Rice Board celebrates September as National Rice Month by sharing the following recipe. Other ideas for serving rice can be found at mnwildrice.org/search.php.
1½ pounds sirloin steak, cut into bite-size pieces
zest andjuice of a medium orange, reserve juice
1 tablespoons sesame oil
4 green onions, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoons bspminced ginger
½ cup tamari
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 packcage (9 ounces) frozen Green Giant®Simply Steam®Broccoli Cuts, prepared as directed on package, drained
1 can (8ounces) sliced water chestnuts, drained
3 cups cooked wild rice
In large skillet, sauté sirloin and orange zest in oil. Stir in onions, garlic, and ginger; cook 2 minutes. In small bowl, mix tamari and cornstarch; stir into skillet mixture slowly. Stir in orange juice and remaining ingredients; heat through.
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