- One of the best dinner time values available now is dark meat
- chicken. This low-carb meat is still priced under a dollar as
- "leg quarters" or "legs and thighs." Sometimes, they come
- frozen or defrosted in large bags.
- Leg quarters are perfect for your slow cooker. Dark meat
- shines in chicken dishes that involve a sauce. The extra
- moisture in the meat means it will still be succulent and
- juicy after long simmering, and ready to eat when you walk in
- the door.
- The simplest slow cooker chicken recipe is to wash the chicken
- pieces, removing any red spongy bits. Separate the quarters
- into legs and thighs if desired. I like to skin the chicken
- quarters. Put the chicken in the crock pot with a can of cream
- of chicken soup and enough water or chicken broth to just
- cover the meat. You can add some celery and carrot pieces if
- desired. Season with a dried bay leaf, black pepper, and thyme
- leaves. Set your crock pot to cook on high for an hour to
- bring the mixture up to safe cooking temperature, then cook on
- low for several hours. If you do this over your lunch hour,
- the chicken will be perfect at six o'clock. If you set your
- crock pot to cook in the morning, the meat may fall off the
- bone. Just remove the bones and serve the meat in sauce over
Use this same technique and substitute your favorite canned or
homemade Italian tomato sauce for the chicken soup and broth.
Add canned mushrooms, zucchini chunks, and frozen pearl onions
instead of celery and carrots. You will have delicious Chicken
Cacciatore to serve with or without pasta.
Legs and quarters can also be roasted for an easy oven meal.
Just place the cleaned quarters on a broiler pan, sprinkle
with seasoned salt, and roast at 375 degrees until the chicken
is at least 165 degrees, or no pink juice runs from the
joints. Roast greased sweet potatoes in the same oven with the
chicken. You can even use the same pan. Serve with any green
vegetable. Canned Italian green beans with white potatoes work
well when microwaved in their serving dish.
Vary your oven meal by brushing the chicken with bottled BBQ
sauce halfway through cooking. Bottled sauce usually costs
less per serving than homemade. Wrap whole onions in foil and
roast along with the chicken. Prepare a scalloped potato mix
in the same oven also. Store brand scalloped potato mixes also
compare favorably in price with homemade. Canned German potato
salad is also tasty and quick, although not as economical as
other potato dishes. Choose a vegetable without sweet
undertones for this meal; steamed broccoli spears are perfect.
If your family loves fried chicken, you have probably noticed
that the oil costs as much as the chicken. Avoid this dilemma
by oven frying. Line a pan with aluminum foil for easy clean-
up. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and melt a stick of
margarine in the pan while the oven preheats. Cut the chicken
into separate legs and thighs, then toss in flour. Season the
chicken with salt and pepper, then roll in the melted butter.
Cook the chicken in the oven for about forty five minutes, or
until it is heavily browned and has a light crust. Since the
oven is on anyway, you can make a broccoli casserole.
Microwave chopped broccoli still in the box for three minutes
or until it is defrosted. Drain it, and combine with either
1/2 cup of leftover cooked rice or twelve crushed buttery
crackers. Stir in 1/2 cup of shredded cheddar cheese, top with
dots of butter, and bake during the last half of the chicken's
cooking time. Your family probably has their favorite dishes
to eat with fried chicken, but frozen whole-kernel corn is a
fast, economical favorite at our house.
All you need to get past the "I only like white meat" attitude
is some great recipes. Thigh meat makes a superior chicken
fajita. Take advantage of dark meat affinity for sauces and
save a buck at dinnertime.