2016-01-29 / Columns

Cooking on Purpose

Make use of the versatile chicken breast
By Connie Wendell Special to the Post

I love cooking with chicken breasts; they are so versatile. They are my “go to” for many meals with family and friends.

All you need to do is switch the ingredients and voilà a new masterpiece is created! I’ve included some of my favorites this time. Enjoy.

Greek oregano chicken with spinach, orzo and tomatoes

1 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed; 1 teaspoon dried basil, crushed; 1 teaspoon dried parsley, crushed; ¼ teaspoon salt; ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper; 4 (8 ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves; 1 tablespoon olive oil; 1 (14 ½ ounce) can reduced-sodium chicken broth; 3 cloves garlic, minced; 1 (10 ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry; 2 cups grape tomatoes; 1 ½ cups cooked orzo pasta; 1 teaspoon finely shredded lemon peel; 2 tablespoons lemon juice; 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese; and snipped fresh oregano.

In a small bowl combine dried oregano, basil, parsley, salt and pepper. Sprinkle mixture evenly over chicken; rub with your fingers. In a large skillet cook chicken in hot oil over medium-high heat for about six minutes or until brown, turning once. Remove from heat.

In a 3½ or 4-quart slow cooker combine chicken, broth and garlic. Add spinach; top with tomatoes. Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 4 hours or on high -heat setting for 2 hours.

Remove chicken from cooker; cover and keep warm. Using a slotted spoon, transfer spinach and tomatoes to a large bowl; discard liquid. Stir in cooked pasta, lemon peel and lemon juice into spinach mixture. Serve chicken with pasta mixture. Garnish with cheese and fresh oregano.

Serves four.

Garlic chicken with artichokes

2 medium red sweet peppers, cut into 1-inch wide strips; 2 medium onions, cut in to wedges; 12 cloves garlic, peeled; 1 tablespoon quick-cooking tapioca; 2 teaspoons dried rosemary, crushed; 1 teaspoon finely shredded lemon peel; ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper; ½ cup chicken broth; 3 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts; 1 (8 ounce) package frozen artichoke hearts; 1 tablespoon lemon juice; and 4 cups hot cooked brown rice.

In a 3½- or 4-quart slow cooker combine sweet peppers, onions, garlic, tapioca, rosemary, lemon peel and black pepper. Pour broth over mixture in cooker. Add chicken.

Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 5 hours or on high-heat setting for 2½ hours.

If using low-heat setting, turn to high-heat setting. Stir in frozen artichoke hearts and lemon juice. Cover and cook 30 to 60 minutes more. Serve with rice.

Serves eight.

Savory roll-ups

4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts; 4 thick slices Jarlsberg cheese; 1 egg, beaten; 1 cup dried bread crumbs; 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley; 1 clove garlic, chopped; 2 tablespoons olive oil; and 1 (14.5 ounce) can chicken broth

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Pound the chicken breasts to about half-inch thickness. In a shallow plate or bowl, mix together the bread crumbs and parsley. Place a slice of cheese on each breast, roll up tightly, then dip into the egg and then the bread crumb mixture. (Note: Hold roll closed; after dipping, you will see that it begins to stay together).

In a large skillet, sauté garlic in olive oil. Add roll-ups and brown quickly, just enough for the chicken to have a crisp outer coating. Remove roll-ups from the skillet and drain on paper towels.

Pour ½ of the chicken broth into a 10X13 inch baking dish. Add all four roll ups. Bake uncovered in the preheated oven for 45 minutes basting once with the remaining broth.

Serves four.

You now have the versatile chicken breast with three completely different flavors. Until next time, keep Cooking on Purpose.

Connie Wendell can be reached at conniewendell27@gmail.com.

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