|The next time you plan to include chicken in a meal, think back to the last time you cooked it. Are you in the habit of always preparing it the same way? |
We all tend to return again and again to recipes we know are winners. There's nothing wrong with developing your own special culinary repertoire, but an important theme in following the Mediterranean Diet is trying new ingredients from the traditional diets of the many countries including Spain, France, Italy, Greece, Egypt, and Morocco. If you always rely on familiar foods and methods, how can you experience the excitement of discovering a new flavor or a new technique?
Chicken is the perfect canvas for experimenting, any time of the year. While it is delicious whole - simply rubbed with olive oil, salt, and dried herbs and roasted for about an hour in a 400°F oven to eat hot or cold - it also lends itself to soups, stews, and many other preparations.
Here are three easy and affordable recipes that offer some popular Mediterranean ingredients for decidedly new ways to enjoy chicken.
And here are a few important tips:
- Remember that chicken is a highly perishable food. Refrigerate it as soon as you bring it home.
- Freeze whatever you don't get around to cooking within two days. (If properly wrapped, it will keep for up to 9 months in the freezer.)
- Thaw frozen chicken in the refrigerator, allowing up to 24 hours for a 4-pound whole chicken and 4 to 8 hours for chicken parts. Or, put frozen chicken in a plastic bag and then into a large bowl of cold water, change the water every 20 minutes or so, to thaw in about 2 hours.
- Use an instant-read thermometer to determine when cooked chicken is done:
- Whole chicken - 180°F
- Bone-in chicken parts - 170°F
- Boneless chicken parts - 160°F