By Lee Holmes
Winner winner chicken dinner!
Today I’m sharing one of the many fast friendly recipes from my new cook book Fast Your Way to Wellness.
Chicken is a staple in my house. I love all its parts, from the darker leg meat, a perfectly poached breast, or a slowly cooked thigh. The way it absorbs flavours and its impressive versatility means it’s always on my mind for meal ideas ranging from soups, roasts, broths and slow cooker delights.
Chicken is the most common type of poultry on the planet. It’s believed that chickens were first domesticated somewhere in India thousands of years ago, initially for cockfighting and later for meat consumption. From there, chickens spread to other parts of Asia, Africa, and Europe and eventually to the Americas; brought from Europe by the early colonists. In the U.S , we now see chicken popularized by fast food giants in the form of nuggets and fried chicken.
Large scale chicken farming in the later part of the 19th and early 20th century gave rise to many new breeds of chicken, ranging from English, American, Asiatic, Mediterranean, Plymouth Rock, Rhode Island Red, New Hampshire, Black Cochin, Red Malay game fowl, and Leghorn.
One of the saddest realities of large scale chicken farming has been the shift from free range farming where hens are free to move about through the day in green pastures, pecking around for bugs in the sunshine. The movement towards factory farming is a terrible plight for chickens; often living in crowded pens or cages, with artificial light sometimes both night and day. In these situations, chickens are fed substandard food and are guarded for infection through the use of antibiotics.
Eggs and meat that come from these poor chickens are inferior in quality to those raised in ideal, natural conditions. It’s common sense really. The nourishment of the animal will provide nourishment for you; and this is why I always purchase my chicken or eggs through trusted sources. Always look for certified organic, or better yet, buy them straight from the farm at your local farmers market through a farmer you know looks after their chooks.
In a quality form, chicken is a nutritious source of protein; with approximately 18 grams per 100 gram serve. Protein is an incredibly important part of our diet. The amino acids that make up protein are literally the building blocks of our bodies, so protein is very important for nursing or pregnant mothers, athletes, and growing children.
Darker parts of the chicken, such as the legs and thighs will contain more minerals than the white. Chicken is highest in Vitamin B3, selenium, vitamin B6, phosphorous, choline, pantothenic acid and vitamin B12. It contains all of the B vitamins present in chicken meat, including B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B12, folate, biotin, and choline. Providing around 97% of the daily recommended requirement for vitamin B3 (niacin) , chicken is an excellent food for delivering it’s benefits, ranging from lowering cholesterol levels to releasing energy into the body’s cells.
To make an organic chicken go the distance, I like to buy-in bulk. And if you’re not familiar with chicken preparation there are a number of handy youtube tutorials where you can learn to cut a chicken into its pieces; wings, thighs, breasts and legs. Then what i generally do is portion and freeze them for later use in recipes.
The best thing about this is that you’ll save money- with an investment into a whole chicken being far cheaper than individual pieces; even when buying organic. You also get to save the precious chicken carcass to use in making valuable chicken broth to use in soups such as my kid friendly chicken noodle soup or my gut healing lamb and zucchini soup. Chicken broth is liquid gold for your gut, and an incredible blessing to a tired or challenged immune system.
This spectacular stew celebrates chicken in all its glory, with the simple accompaniment of woody herbs and lemony leek flavours. This is the perfect budget friendly family meal, utilizing a handful of everyday ingredients that you can pick up at your local supermarket. If you’re really pressed for time in the evenings, throw all the ingredients in your slow-cooker in the morning, set temperature to low and come home to a scrumptious dinner. For a show-stopping lunch, I love to spoon leftovers over a bowl piled high with shredded salad greens with an extra dash of mustard on top.
Rosemary and Thyme Chicken Stew
- 145 g (5 oz/2 large) carrots, halved lengthways and sliced
- 4 small red onions (optional), peeled and quartered
- 2 leeks, white part only, sliced (reserve green bits for later)
- 2 lemons, quartered
- 2 garlic cloves
- 370 g (13 oz/about 2) skinless chicken thighs, halved
- 625 ml (211/2 fl oz/21/2 cups) chicken stock
- 400 g (14 oz) tinned diced tomatoes
- 2 bay leaves
- a few thyme sprigs
- a few rosemary sprigs
- drizzle of apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sugar-free wholegrain mustard
- Celtic sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F).
- Put the carrots, onions (if using), leeks, lemons and garlic in a large roasting tin.
- Rest the chicken thighs on top of the vegetables, then pour in the stock and tomatoes and top with the herbs. Drizzle in the apple cider vinegar, then bake for 35–40 minutes, until the vegetables and chicken are cooked through.
- Remove the chicken and vegetables from the pan and keep warm. Discard the bay leaf (and perhaps the lemon quarters if you prefer) and transfer the juices to a saucepan.
- Bring the juices to the boil, then add the mustard and boil for 5 minutes, or until slightly thickened. Season with salt and pepper.
- Pour the sauce over the chicken and vegetables, then serve.