Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Chicken Honey Marinades

Happy, free chickens
 I can not say enough how wonderful your own, homegrown chickens are.  Being allowed outisde in the sun, in fresh green grass, eating bugs, seeds, and whatever else of interest they find gives you the best tasting chicken.  If you live in a place where you are able to grow your own, you will find it it to be a fairly simple activity.  Not free from work--there is certainly some of that involved, but who doesn't like a little bit of work, outdoors in the clean air, working those muscles and providing your own food?  Even if you find it's not something you want or can do, everyone should find a way--at least once--to raise chickens, slaughter and cook them.  It will be a real eye opener, you'll understand better where your food comes from, and you'll really begin to question your eating habits, your health, and the best way to take care of yourself and your family. You may never buy another chicken at your local store or walmart again.

An easy way to make chicken is to marinade it, and then fry, bake or grill.  Coupled with a salad and maybe some fresh bread, it is simple and satisfying.

A great idea for make ahead meals or bulk cooking (i.e.: once a week or once a month cooking prep) is to marinade several cut up chickens, in several different marinades, place in heavy duty freezer bags, place in freezer, and then when you need one, take out, thaw in frig, and cook.  It's perfect for any of you who find your day has evaporated and you still have to make dinner.  Because you determine the size of the freezer bags, it is a perfect solution for singles, college kids, twosomes, or those HUGE family get-togethers.

A marinade has several components to make a great one.  In order to flavor and tenderize meat, you need 1) oil, which helps preserve the meat's moisture (which some omit when freezing for long periods of time) 2) acid, which tenderizes the meat and is added through the use of citric fruits like lemon, lime, grapefruit, pineapple, wine or vinegar and 3) flavorings which can be spices, herbs, sugars (honey) or vegetables.

Here are a few I use routinely. Increase amounts according to how much chicken you have.
Chinese marinade - 2 T oil, 2 T lemon juice, 2 T soy sauce, 1/4 c honey.
Indonesian marinade - 3/4 c orange juice, 2 T lemon juice, 1/4 c oil, 1/4 c honey, 1 t curry powder, 1/2 t paprika
American bbq - garlic, 1 1/2 c ketchup, 2 T vinegar, 1 c honey, 1/2 c onion, 1 t mustard, salt & pepper

And my personal favorite called Open the Refrigerator and Throw Whatever in It - as long as you have the acid, the oil, and the honey, you can add anything else you find in the frig to finish off this marinade. Little bits of salad dressing are good for this, that little bit of ginger there, that last teaspoon of steak or worchestershire sauce and that bite or two of pear and mango.

I hope you enjoy these as much as our family does.  And maybe make things a little easier for you as well.

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