Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner
story by Becky Junkin • photography by Jennie Guido and Becky Junkin
When I was growing up, my favorite entree usually was chicken; and at a restaurant, I usually chose chicken over steak. Unfortunately, for my children, as they were growing up, I only cooked what I liked—chicken. I didn’t realize that other than ground beef or venison I never cooked anything else. When my son, David, was old enough to grasp this, he told me one day that he knew how I could make a lot of money—write a cookbook entitled 1,000 Ways to Cook Chicken. That is when I recognized that I might be overdoing the chicken.
When, as a young wife, I branched out from my tuna casserole, I learned how to make Chicken with Sour Cream; and several years later, I learned how to make Chicken and Green Noodle Casserole. These two recipes were my go-to recipes for company and for nightly meals. I don’t think my husband ever wants to eat these dishes again since I so frequently alternated cooking them, but both are very good recipes and easy to fix. To this day my poor husband is not a big fan of chicken because between my serving raw fried chicken as a bride and cooking only chicken for most of our married life, I’ve driven him away from liking it. I hope quite a few of you out there are chicken lovers because this whole article is on chicken, chicken, chicken!
This recipe for Green Noodles and Chicken Casserole is the best version I have found. It came from a cookbook of my mother’s friend from Port Gibson. The changes that she made make a world of difference in the final product.
Green Noodles and Chicken Casserole
4 pounds chicken (cooked, deboned, and cut into small pieces)
1 package green noodles
4 cups chicken stock
1 large onion, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
1/2 bell pepper, chopped
1 stick butter
1/2 pound sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 small can mushrooms, sliced (I use fresh.)
1 6-ounce jar stuffed green olives, sliced
1 tablespoon parsley
Boil noodles in 2 cups of chicken stock until tender. Let noodles stand in stock for 10 minutes to absorb the flavors. Sauté onion, celery, and green pepper in butter until soft. Add cheese and stir until melted. Add soup, mushrooms, and olives. Mix together drained noodles, vegetables, chicken, and soup mixture. Bake in a 3-quart casserole for about 1 hour at 350 degrees.
This recipe came from an old cookbook that I thought my husband had thrown away. After searching forever, I finally located this cookbook, Better Homes and Gardens Favorite Ways With Chicken, so I could cite the source of this recipe. We have served it over pasta with French bread and either a salad or baked potato on the side. I could never cook rice, but it would work over rice also. When I used to make this casserole, money was an object; so I could not afford the dried beef and, therefore, substituted the thin, thin, thin sliced sandwich meat. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
8 skinless boneless chicken breasts
1 8-ounce jar dried beef
8 slices bacon
8 ounces sour cream
1 10.75-ounce can condensed cream of mushroom soup
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9-by-13-inch pan with non-stick spray, and line dish with the dried beef. Wrap the chicken breasts with the bacon strips, and place the wrapped chicken breasts on top of the beef. Bake for 30 minutes and remove from the oven. Mix together the sour cream and cream of mushroom soup, and pour evenly over the chicken. Bake uncovered in the oven for 25 more minutes.
Crescent rolls can make anything taste good; and not only does this casserole taste good but it also is a quick, easy meal for a busy day. The recipe came from a friend of mine years ago.
2 large chicken breasts
Sour cream (a little less than the 8-ounce container)
1 can cream of mushroom soup
Salt and pepper
1 can crescent rolls
Cook the chicken and remove from the bone. Add sour cream, half of the can of soup, chicken, salt, and pepper. Unroll the Crescent rolls and put about one tablespoon, more or less, of the mixture on the wide end of the roll. Roll up and place in glass casserole dish. Add water to the remaining soup to fill the can. Stir the water and soup mixture together and pour over crescent rolls. Bake in a 350-degree oven until browned. Add vegetables or a salad, and you have a meal.
This is another recipe from a friend. I used blueberry jalapeño preserves that my friend Rita Tebbetts made to give it a little kick.
1/2 cup red onion, chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
Salt or no-salt seasoning to taste
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast
1/3 cup No Sugar Blackberry or Raspberry Preserves
2 tablespoons Balsamic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Sauté onions in oil for 5 minutes. Sprinkle the thyme and salt on the chicken. Cook chicken in skillet 7 minutes on each side and remove from skillet. Cook preserves, vinegar, and pepper until melted; and pour on top of the chicken. Serve and enjoy.
This recipe is from Christopher Willis, my daughter-in-law’s brother. He worked as a chef in several restaurants, created several recipes, and wrote his own cookbook. With this recipe’s combination of lemon and thyme, you can’t go wrong.
Lemon-Thyme Roasted Chicken
1 lemon, cut in half
1/2 medium onion
1 5-pound roasting chicken
1/4 cup butter, softened
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Garnishes: fresh thyme and roasted garlic
Place 1 lemon half and onion into the cavity of the chicken. Stir together the butter, garlic, and thyme. Starting at the neck cavity, loosen skin from breast and drumstick by inserting fingers; and gently put the butter between skin and meat. Be careful not to totally detach skin. Rub half of butter mixture evenly under the skin. Tie end of legs together with a string; stick wing tips under. Rub remaining butter mixture over the top of the chicken. Place chicken, breast side up, on a lightly greased rack placed in a lightly greased shallow roasting pan. Sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Bake at 450 degrees for 30 minutes. Reduce the heat to 400 degrees and bake for 55 to 60 minutes or until a meat thermometer inserted into the thigh registers 180 degrees, basting occasionally with the drippings and turning pan for even browning. Cover loosely with aluminum foil to prevent excessive browning. Remove from pan, reserving drippings in the pan. Cover chicken with foil, and let sit for 10 minutes before slicing. Add broth to reserved drippings in pan, stirring to loosen browned bits from bottom. Whisk together pan drippings, wine, and flour in a small saucepan. Cook, stirring often, over medium heat for 5 minutes or until thickened. Serve with chicken.
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