that’s me at the national chicken cooking contest in 1983!

that's me at the national chicken cooking contest in 1983!

Not many remember I was the 1983 Maine Chicken-Cooking Champion. I won the state contest and was privileged to compete in the nationals in the chicken capital of the US, Birmingham, Alabama. I was given a plane ticket, a $100 check, hotel accommodations, all meals during the three-day event, a chicken tote bag, chicken tea set, and an engraved silver bowl. At the cook-off, we each had our own mini-kitchen. The only thing they did not provide were the pots, pans, and serving dishes I needed to use so I had to lug those on the plane. My recipe was published in the National Chicken Cooking Contest’s yearly cookbook. I didn’t win, but it was so much fun, and I met so many great people!

lemon-mint chicken thighs
Here’s the recipe that won me the state award, inspired by my love of Lebanese food served so often in Caribou, Maine.

  • 8 skinless chicken thighs
  • 2 large lemons
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tsp salt, divided
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • 1 Tbs dried mint
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 4 Tbs cornstarch
  • 3 Tbs cold water
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 2 Tbs pine nuts

In a deep saucepan, place chicken, 2 cups water, 1 tsp of the salt, and the juice and peel of one lemon. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, covered, about 25 minutes or till tender. Remove chicken from broth and set aside to cool. Separate meat from bones. Reserve broth. Discard lemon peel. Add enough water to broth to make 3 cups. In a medium pan, bring broth to a boil over medium heat, add mint, pepper, oil, and remaining salt. Mix cornstarch with 3 Tbs water, reduce heat to low, and stir into broth till thick, about 5 minutes. Add chicken and heat through, then stir in yogurt, heating only till warm to prevent curdling. Serve over rice, sprinkled with pine nuts and garnished with lemon slices.

melt-in-your-mouth chicken
My friend, Pete Freeman, pharmacist extraordinaire at Shop ‘n Save, posted this recipe on his Facebook page. The name of this dish says it all. It is truly luscious and dancin’ good!

Preheat oven to 375°. Mix together:

  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • ¼ cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • ¾ tsp Lawry’s Seasoned Salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • ½ tsp garlic powder

Spread the mixture evenly over 2 boneless chicken breast halves. Bake 30-45 minutes till fork-tender and meat thermometer reads 165°. So golden good. Serve with rice or potatoes and a green veggie.

TIP: INVEST IN A GOOD MEAT THERMOMETER
With all the warnings about salmonella and E coli out there, be sure your food is safe to eat. Purchase a good meat thermometer. It will pay for itself in peace of mind.

original recipe KFC chicken
This is as close as it gets—11 herbs and spices!

Ingredients

  • 1 whole chicken, cut into pieces.
  • 3 beaten eggs
  • ¼ cup light olive or peanut oil

For the Coating

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp poultry seasoning (thyme, sage, marjoram, rosemary, and nutmeg)
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp tarragon
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp onion powder
  • ½ tsp celery salt

Directions
Pat chicken dry with a paper towel. Salt liberally on all sides. Place oil in a heavy skillet and heat to medium. Sift together all coating ingredients. Coat each piece of chicken with flour, dip in the egg then back into the flour mixture covering thoroughly. Place on a plate. When oil is hot, place chicken skin side down and brown slowly uncovered. When golden. turn over and cover. Reduce heat to medium-low and fry till fork tender, juices run clear, and a thermometer registers 165° when inserted in the deepest area of meat. Serve with KFC-recipe coleslaw.

“secret” recipe KFC coleslaw
There are several of these recipes floating around. Here’s the link to one with a 5-star rating: http://www.food.com/recipe/copycat-kfc-coleslaw-the-real-thing-67284

easy jerk chicken
This scrumptious dish is adapted from the traditional Jamaican recipe. There are many conflicting claims as to how to prepare this spicy sweet chicken. I used to buy a prepared Jerk Sauce, but the store stopped carrying it. This recipe is delicious. The number of ingredients is long, but it is totally worth it. You can use boneless chicken breasts or chicken parts. If using bone-in breasts, be sure to half and then quarter them so all pieces are the same size and cook evenly. Separate drumsticks from thighs. This makes a nice load of chicken with plenty for leftovers.

Ingredients

  • 2-3 lbs chicken
  • ½ cup molasses
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp ground allspice
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 tsp dried minced onion or onion powder
  • 2 scallions, green and white parts, chopped
  • Non-stick cooking spray

Directions
Mix liquids and spices in a bowl. Pour into a storage container or a zip-lock bag, pop in the chicken pieces, and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight. You can roast or grill.

To Roast: Preheat oven to 375°, remove chicken from marinade, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Spray a baking pan with non-stick cooking spray. Place chicken in pan and spray each piece lightly also. Roast till fork tender and a thermometer registers 165° when inserted in the deepest part of meat (20-35 minutes).

To Grill: Jerk chicken is best cooked slowly over charcoal or wood. If using a gas grill, heat to high and cook for 10 minutes to sear. Reduce heat to medium low, turning once or twice till fork tender and a thermometer registers 165° when inserted in the deepest area of meat. Times vary, so you be the judge. Do not overcook, please! Serve with rice and a green vegetable. Pass the lime wedges.

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