There’s a reason seemingly every exotic meat in the world has been described as “tasting like chicken.” There’s a reason the National Pork Board readily accepted second billing with its famous “The Other White Meat” campaign. That’s because no protein on earth is as common as chicken. Even here in cattle country, it’s unchallenged as the First White Meat. And while chicken may be plentiful, nutritious, and relatively inexpensive, it also has a reputation for being, well, a little boring.
Enter the flavorful oven-roasted chicken and its cousin, the rotisserie chicken. Whether prepared at home or purchased from a supermarket, these versatile foods are beloved by cooks across the U.S. who use them to turn an otherwise ordinary meal into something much more savory. In this issue, Livia Woodburn of Pan-Handlers Cafe & Catering shares a recipe for butter-roasted chicken – complete with delectable skin-crisping compound butter options – plus recipes for a soup and casserole that incorporate the leftovers. “If you don’t want to roast the chicken, you can use rotisserie chicken from the store,” Woodburn says. “It’s just a way to elevate your shredded chicken into something more.”
Compound Butter-Roasted Chicken 1 (3 ½- to 4-pound) chicken Compound butter of your choice (see recipes below) Kosher salt and pepper Enough vegetables to make single layer in bottom of roasting pan (i.e.: baby potatoes, Brussels sprouts, baby carrots, mushrooms, squash, or pearl onions) ½ cup dry white wine
Place rack in lower third of oven; heat to 425 degrees. Pat chicken dry with paper towels (do not rinse) and place, breast side up, on rack set inside roasting pan. Working from neck end of chicken, gently loosen skin from breasts, then, working from cavity end, gently loosen skin from around thighs and legs. Using your hands, spread half of butter under skin. Rub remaining butter over outside of bird; season chicken with salt and pepper. Loosely tie legs together with kitchen twine and tuck wing tips underneath bird. Remove rack and fill bottom of roasting pan with vegetables. Place bird on top. Add wine and ½ cup water to pan over vegetables. Roast chicken in oven, adding more water as needed to maintain some liquid in pan, until skin is brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of thigh registers 165 degrees, about 50 to 60 minutes. Transfer to cutting board and let rest at least 15 minutes before carving. Serve with pan juices alongside. Tip: Use a Salt Rox Chicken Brining Egg (saltrox.com) for tender chicken, and a reduced cooking time. Plus, it’s reusable!
Combine butter, mustard, garlic and seasoning in small bowl. Do ahead: Butter will keep refrigerated for up to 2 weeks or frozen for up to 3 months.
Herb-Lemon Zest Butter ¼ cup mixed herbs, such as flat-leaf parlsey, chervil, tarragon and chives, chopped 1 stick unsalted butter, softened 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
Put herbs on work surface. Add butter and lemon zest. Finely chop together until well combined. Season with salt. Transfer to sheet of parchment paper, placing on edge closest to you. Fold paper over and roll into cylinder, twisting ends; wrap airtight in foil. Chill until solid. Do ahead: Butter will keep refrigerated for up to 2 weeks or frozen for up to 3 months.
Put butter on work surface and sprinkle with mushrooms. Drizzle with wine and season with salt. Using a knife, finely chop together until well combined. Transfer butter mixture to sheet of parchment paper, wax paper, or plastic wrap, placing on edge closest to you. Fold paper over and roll into cylinder, twisting ends; wrap airtight in foil. Chill until solid. Do ahead: Butter will keep refrigerated for up to 2 weeks or frozen for up to 3 months.
Chicken, Quinoa and Kale Soup 4 center-cut bacon slices 1 ½ cups onion, chopped ¾ cup carrot, chopped ½ teaspoon kosher salt 6 garlic cloves, minced Cooking spray ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 6 cups unsalted chicken stock 2 bay leaves 2/3 cup uncooked quinoa 6 cups chopped kale 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves or ½ teaspoon dried ½ to 1 pound shredded chicken
Cook bacon in Dutch oven over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan, reserving drippings. Crumble bacon; set aside. Increase heat to medium-high. Add onion, carrot and ¼ teaspoon salt to drippings in pan; saute 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic; saute 2 minutes. Stir in chicken stock, bay leaves, salt and pepper; bring to boil. Place quinoa in fine sieve; place sieve in large bowl. Cover quinoa with water. Using your hands, rub grains together for 30 seconds; rinse and drain. ¬Repeat procedure twice. Drain well. Add quinoa to pan; cover and simmer 15 minutes. Add kale and thyme to pan; simmer, uncovered, 5 minutes or until kale is tender. Discard bay leaves. Add chicken and cooked bacon.
Makes 6 to 8 servings
Chicken Tetrazzini Adapted from a Food Network recipe 8 tablespoons butter 1 tablespoon olive oil 2 ¼ teaspoons salt 1 ¼ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper 1 pound white mushrooms, sliced 1 large onion, finely chopped 5 cloves garlic, minced 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped, or 1 teaspoon dried ½ cup dry white wine Shredded chicken from small roasted chicken 1/3 cup all-purpose flour 4 cups whole milk, room temperature 1 cup heavy whipping cream, room temperature 1 cup chicken broth 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg 12 ounces fettuccine ¾ cup frozen peas ¼ cup fresh Italian parsley leaves, chopped 1 cup grated Parmesan ¼ cup dried Italian-style breadcrumbs
Heat oven to 450 degrees. Spread 1 tablespoon butter over 13- by 9- by 2-inch baking dish. Melt 1 tablespoon each of butter and oil in deep, large nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and saute over medium-high heat until liquid from mushrooms evaporates and mushrooms become pale golden, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add onion, garlic and thyme, and saute until onion is translucent, about 8 minutes. Add wine and simmer until it evaporates, about 2 minutes. Transfer mushroom mixture to bowl with shredded chicken. Melt 3 tablespoons butter in same pan over medium-low heat. Add flour and whisk for 2 minutes. Whisk in milk, cream, broth, nutmeg, remaining 1 ¾ teaspoons salt, and remaining ¾ teaspoon pepper. Increase heat to high. Cover and bring to boil. Simmer, uncovered, until sauce thickens slightly, whisking often, about 10 minutes. Bring large pot of salted water to boil. Add fettuccine and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 9 minutes. Drain. Add fettuccine, sauce, peas and parsley to chicken mixture. Toss until sauce coats pasta and mixture is well blended. Transfer pasta mixture to prepared baking dish. Stir cheese and breadcrumbs in small bowl to blend. Sprinkle cheese mixture over pasta. Dot with remaining 3 tablespoons butter. Bake, uncovered, until golden brown on top and sauce bubbles, about 25 minutes.
Makes 6 servings
Meet the Cook: Livia Woodburn of Pan-Handlers Cafe & Catering
Until 2010, Livia Woodburn was employed as a graphic designer and layout artist. But when she lost her job, she found herself applying her creative skills in the kitchen. She had always loved to cook, and before long, she and her cousin, Lizzie Smith, had begun catering parties for friends and family. “People started asking if we were doing it for a living,” she says. “So we decided to try it out.”
They opened a catering business in Western Business Park, delivering fresh sandwiches and other healthy alternatives to nearby offices. As their six-month lease was coming to an end, they heard that the cafe space in the basement of Amarillo National Bank’s Plaza One was unoccupied. “It had been vacant for almost a year,” Livia says. The Ware family, who owns ANB and the building, had been looking for a tenant. “We weren’t really looking to open a restaurant, but we went to check it out and liked the space,” Livia says. By May of 2011, she and Smith had remodeled and opened Pan-Handlers Cafe & Catering.
Known for its fresh, local food and unlimited soup and salad bar, the cafe has proved a hit with health-conscious bank employees as well as the larger Amarillo community. Few Amarillo salad bars compare to the variety available at Pan-Handlers. “We usually try to have a few different types of lettuce. We’ll have romaine, baby spinach, baby spring greens, or a baby kale mixture,” Livia says. “It’s never the same.”
Pan-Handlers has earned a dedicated lunchtime clientele, with nearly half of its sales coming from takeout orders. Smith and Woodburn also serve delicious hot and cold sandwiches, homemade pickles, farm-raised eggs, and a variety of vegan and gluten-free options. The duo recently was licensed by the state of Texas for alcohol sales and will be offering beer and wine starting this month.
The chicken, quinoa and kale soup in this recipe is a popular rotating menu item at Pan-Handlers. The high-protein quinoa makes it a truly nutritious choice. “We have a lot of soups at the restaurant, but this is one of my favorites that uses rotisserie chicken,” says Woodburn. “It’s filling, but it’s not too rich. And the bacon makes everything better.” With the weather getting cooler, soups become one of the restaurant’s most popular daily items. Most are gluten-free, and Pan-Handlers almost always offers a vegetarian option. “We try to always have two different options every day. People go crazy for the soups in the winter.”
by Jason Boyett
Jason is a journalist, copywriter, ghostwriter, and the author of more than a dozen books. His most recent is “12 World Religions: The Beliefs, Rituals, and Traditions of Humanity's Most Influential Faiths”, published by Zephyros Press. Learn more at jasonboyett.com.