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You might remember the post I did questioning what happened to the dark meat on chicken. To refresh your memory, you can see the post by clicking here! I was questioning what happened to the dark meat on chicken. The photo below shows a thigh and a breast and you can see very little difference in the color of the meat. I had sent Foster Farms a note questioning why the change.

Can you tell the difference?

Can you tell the difference?

Here is the response from Teresa Lenz at Foster Farms, which I was given permission to post:

“Thank you for your interest in Foster Farms. We wanted to help address your question regarding white and dark chicken meat.

Different parts of the bird may have differences in color due to the locations and types of muscles. Actual differences in color vary naturally from bird to bird. While dark meat parts are generally deeper in color due to the muscles containing more myoglobin, the actual amount of this natural protein and resulting color varies by bird. Physical appearance alone does not dictate whether the piece of meat is from a white meat or dark meat muscle, and color of the cooked meat may also be influenced by cooking method, temperature and lighting.

At Foster Farms, our chickens are raised in large poultry barns (without cages) that allow the birds to move around freely and to exhibit natural behaviors. Foster Farms prioritizes the care and wellbeing of its birds and all Foster Farms fresh chickens are American Humane Certified. For more information about our commitment to the humane care of our birds, please visit our website at FosterFarms.com.”

Thank you Teresa and Foster Farms for responding.

I do appreciate the response but I have been cooking their chickens for more than 40 years and have only recently experienced what the photo above shows us. My cooking technique has not changed, nor has the temperature at which I cook it. As far as lighting goes, I did not mess with the photo I took, and you can clearly see that the dark meat is no longer dark.

I am thinking free range and maybe organic is the way to go now for dark meat on a chicken!

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I don’t know about you, but I love the dark meat on the chicken. It is moister than the breast, and more flavorful, don’t you think? We have the perfect arrangement here at the house as my husband loves the white meat and I love the dark meat. No fighting over a piece of chicken. That is until the other night…

I baked a whole chicken, stuffing the bird’s cavity with parsley. I lathered it with EVOO and then Spiked the bird, adding garlic powder. One can never get enough of the lovely flavor of garlic! When my husband reads this I will not hear the end of it! I put it in the oven to bake, the aromas filling the house with the promise of a lovely meal to come! Checking on this bird it looked lovely!

Such a lovely looking bird!

Such a lovely looking bird!

Could you smell the garlic and spices?

When I took the chicken out of the oven it sat for 10 minutes before I started my magic carving technique. So, now, my dear readers, I have a quiz for you! “What?” you exclaim! Come on…this one should be easy….

The test is to guess what part of the chicken you are looking at in the next two photos! Ready?

Photo #1

This one is....

This one is….

Photo #2

This one is....

This one is….

Now add in the song from that popular show while waiting for the final answer…

♪♫♫♪♫♪♫♫♪♫♪♫♫♪♫♪♫♫♪♫♪♫♫♪♫♪♫♫♪♫♪♫♫♪♫♪♫♫♪♫♪♫♫♪♫♪♫♫♪♫

But wait! Before I let you know whether or not you guessed correctly…some facts about what makes white meat white, and dark meat dark!

The difference is due to what is called “fast twitch” and “slow twitch” muscle fibers. Fast twitch muscle fibers are muscle fibers used for quick bursts of energy. One such activity using this energy would be fleeing from danger. The muscle gets its energy from glycogen, which is stored in the muscle. When it is cooked the proteins coagulate and the meat when cooked turns whitish.

Slow twitch muscle fibers are the muscle fiber used for extended periods of time for something such as walking. To have the energy needed, it must have a constant source of energy. It is myoglobin that stores oxygen in the muscle cells of say the legs and thighs, and the constant source of energy is the oxygen which is extracted from the the muscles for use in normal daily activities. When cooked the meat in these tissues are darker in color.

Enough! Did you guess correctly?

Photo #1 –

This is the breast!

This is the breast!

So photo #2 must be…
This is the thigh!

This is the thigh!

What? The color looks the same! So, for me the question is why? Does this mean that chickens are not getting the activity that they need? Are they packed in at the farm so tightly that they can not move about? Or, are our food companies messing with our food? Inquiring minds want to know!

The chicken in this post came from Foster Farms, who by the way changed their thigh packaging from 6 thighs of relatively equal pieces down to 4 uneven pieces. I have had similar results with the thigh color recently from Tyson Chicken. I sent the question to Foster Farms as to why the dark coloring has disappeared from their chicken. When I get the answer, I will let you know!

Here are the two pieces side by side. Did you guess correctly?

Did you guess right?

Did you guess right?

What I think I need to start doing is buying a chicken that is free range so that I can have dark meat and white meat. Have you noticed a change in your chicken too? I would love to hear from you!

So stay tuned for a follow up when I hear back from Foster Farms. Until then, have a great day, and thank you for visiting today!

Information on the difference in white meat and dark meat from Exploratorium.Edu

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A soft sauce, with the slight tang of lemon, the gentle flavors of pear, the surprise of a caper or two, and the subtle tones of garlic and thyme surround chicken in this lovely dish! This is an easy braised dish to make and total time in the kitchen is about a half hour with cooking time in the oven of about 45 minutes.

Lovely ingredients!

Lovely ingredients!

Let’s start by getting the ingredients together first, shall we? Here is the list of ingredients:

8 chicken thighs, bone in
3/4 cup of flour
4 grinds each of salt and pepper
3 dashes of garlic powder
2 TBS extra virgin olive oil
2 TBS butter
6 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed
1 1/2 cups of a good Pinot Grigio
1 1/2 cups of chicken broth
The zest of one whole lemon
4 sprigs of fresh thyme
3 TBS drained capers
1 bay leaf

The first thing we do is place the flour, salt and pepper along with the garlic powder in a zipper bag. Shake this up to combine and then add the chicken and shake to coat. Next we add the olive oil and butter to a dutch oven. Turn on the heat to medium high to melt and combine the two. Then add 4 of the chicken thighs, skin side down, and brown for 6 minutes per side.

Start by browning the chicken

Start by browning the chicken

Turn the chicken

Turn the chicken

When these are done set them aside and repeat this process with the last 4 thighs. Remove these too. Drain off all but 1 TBS of oil from the pot. Turn on the oven to 350 degrees. Next, turn the heat down to low and add in the garlic. Enjoy the aromas of these lovely gems as they cook.

Soften the garlic

Soften the garlic

When the garlic has softened add in the wine and cook down until reduced by half. Next, rub the thyme between your hand to release the lovely scents and essential oils and drop this into the pot. Take the lemon zest and over the pot, holding both ends, gently twist to release the oil from the skin and drop these into the pot. Next add in the capers and the bay leaf.

Add in the thyme, lemon, capers and bay leaf

Add in the thyme, lemon, capers and bay leaf

Then add in the chicken broth. Here is a pouring shot just for Conor over at One Man’s Meat!

A pouring shot Conor!

A pouring shot Conor!

Stir all of this together to combine well and then add back the chicken skin side up.

Add the chicken

Add the chicken

Cover and place in the oven and cook for 45 minutes. When this is finished, put the pot back on the stove, remove the cover, and reduce the sauce by 1/3.

Right out of the oven

Right out of the oven

Before serving, remove the lemon zest, the thyme leaves and the bay leaf. And dinner is served!

Dinner is served!

Dinner is served!

Let me know if you try this dish!

Thanks for dropping in and joining me in the kitchen today! Stay tuned as I am heading into the kitchen tomorrow to make Al Roker’s, from NBC’s Today show, Spicy Beef Chili!

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I was looking for something new to try in the kitchen, and lo and behold, my friend Gregg sent me a recipe that he thought I would like. Taking the list of ingredients, I headed off to the grocery store. I made this for dinner last night and received rave reviews and was told that the recipe was a “do again.” So come on into my kitchen so I can share with you Gregg’s Italian Chicken with Orzo! Here is a preview:

Preview!

Ingredients
6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite size pieces
6 oz. baby bella mushrooms, sliced
1 tomato, peeled and cut into chunks
1 can artichoke hearts, drained and quartered
6 cloves of garlic, minced
1 small white onion, chopped finely
1 tsp lemon pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 lemon, juiced
1/2 cup Sherry
2 TBS butter
Orzo pasta
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
6 fresh basil leaves, sliced

Gratuitous shot of the ingredients

Gather all of your ingredients and prepare as noted above. In a large saute pan, heat the olive oil. When hot, add the chicken, the lemon pepper, garlic and onion powders. Cook until the chicken is just done.

Chicken and spices cooking in olive oil

Remove it from the pan and set aside. Add to the pan, the mushrooms, tomato, artichoke hearts, onion and garlic. Cook over medium heat until the onion becomes transparent.

Artichokes, mushrooms, onion and tomatoes added to the pan

Add the lemon juice, Sherry and butter.

Add in the lemon juice and sherry

Stir to combine and simmer for 15 minutes. While this is cooking prepare your Orzo. I used a little over a half a box following the cooking directions as noted. Drain the pasta when done. By this time, the vegetable mixture should be done. Add back the chicken, add the orzo and cook until hot. Then add in the cheese, stirring to melt the cheese. Remove from the heat. Serve this up in a pasta bowl, and top with the shredded basil.

Dinner is served!

Dinner is served!

Now I did make a change to this recipe. Gregg uses 3 oz. of sun dried tomatoes. I am not really fond of them so I used fresh tomato instead.

This dish was very yummy and my house smelled just like an Italian Kitchen! Let me know if you try this wonderful recipe and how you liked it and I will pass the word on to Gregg!

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With the cold temperatures, we need hot soup! In my head, I can hear an echo of words from the blog site of Conor Bofin at One Man’s Meat, regarding ingredients and how wonderful it is that you can look on the internet to find something to do with the ingredients you have on hand. Sorry, Conor, but I cannot find the post where you said this, but you said it. So here I am with chicken, hot Italian sausage, and fresh spinach, and it what the heck do I do with this? I looked on the internet and no one has made a soup like the one featured in this post! So, here is a new soup recipe, nothing like anyone has done before! It is not only extremely tasty but easy to make! And you know I like easy! Want a preview? OK, only because you said please…

Preview!

Ingredients
1# Hot Italian sausage
3 stalks of celery, chopped
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 shallot, chopped finely
6 cloves of garlic, chopped finely
1/2 stick of butter
1/2 cup of white wine
6 14.5 oz cans of low sodium chicken broth
2 cups of cooked chicken, cut into chunks
1/2 tsp. white pepper
1 tsp. dried thyme leaves
3/4 cup frozen peas
1 1/2 cup of chunky cut baby portabella mushrooms
1/4 cup of fresh dill finely chopped
1/4 tsp. celery seed
12 oz. frozen artichoke hearts, defrosted
1 package of pre-washed spinach
Salt and pepper to taste
Parmesan cheese, shredded

I start by cooking up the sausage so that I can cook most of the fat out of it. Stir the sausage to get it nicely browned.

Pre-cooked hot Italian sausage

When the sausage is done, drain on paper towel and dab with another sheet of paper towel to remove surface grease.

While this is cooking get your mirepox veges ready, plus the garlic. A mirepox, in case you might be new to cooking, is a combo of onion, carrots and celery…In a soup pot add the butter and the mirepox veges plus the garlic. The secret to a good mirepox is to leave it alone. Heat over medium high heat and let it brown on one side before you even stir it.

Mirepox set to caramelize

When the mirepox is done, add the wine and enjoy the aromas as they rise up to fill the kitchen! As the wine cooks down, stir,  and then slowly add the chicken broth. Next add the cooked chicken, the white pepper, thyme, peas, baby bellas, dill and celery seed. Bring this up to a boil, and then reduce to a slow simmer. Cook this up for about a 45 minutes, and then add the artichoke hearts.

Add to the artichokes

Bring this back to a boil, and cook another 15 minutes. Then add the spinach leaves, stirring until they are just wilted.

After adding the spinach…

Turn the heat off.

Serve this up in a soup bowl, top with a bit of Parmesan…and enjoy!

Soup’s on!

Joe, are you jealous of the meal P has been served? Just wondering!

This is well worth the effort it takes to make, which is not all that much. It you decide to try this recipe, let me know how it turns out for you!

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Don’t knock it if you have not tried it! Gizzards that is! I have loved these little morsels since I was a kid. I was always sad that you only got one with a whole chicken. When Mom cooked up a chicken that little bit was always mine. It was referred to as “pipik’lach.” When she and my Dad were in France she saw gésiers on the menu and asked what it was. The wait person tried to describe it but could not and she ordered it anyway. Gésiers is the french word for gizzards! She told me the story and the word has stuck with me as it sounds so much better than the word gizzard!

What is a gizzard anyway? As a bird eats, it picks up grit and small pebbles. The gizzard holds the grit and pebbles and uses them to break down the food that the birds eat before digesting it. Not only do birds have gizzards but so do alligators, crocodiles, most invertebrates and some fish too! Gizzard stones were found in excavations of dinosaurs which indicated that they had them too!

These little gems are eaten all around the world. They are served up pickled, grilled, stewed, and fried. The recipe below is one that I created and it is a baked dish. I found that if you cook these up with chicken, the fat from the chicken makes them a bit more tender and also adds flavor! How about a preview?

Preview

Ingredients
Chicken thighs
Chicken gizzards
Olive oil
Spike
Lemon Pepper
Garlic powder
Paprika

Wash the chicken and the gizzards and then dry them. Add them to a mixing bowl with all but the paprika. I add a lot of Spike, lemon pepper and garlic powder. Add as much as you would like. Mix it all up so that the chicken and gizzards are well coated.

Gizzards and chicken combined with herbs, spices and olive oil

Then pour the mixture out into a 9 x 13″ baking pan. Cover with foil. Bake at 350 degrees for a half hour,

Ready to turn

remove the foil and then turn, making sure that the gizzards have been turned as well. Continue to bake. After 15 minutes baste everything in the pan and sprinkle the chicken pieces with a bit of paprika.

Baste as you go

Cook another 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and again cover with foil. Let this sit for about 5 minutes so that the juices settle. Then serve it up!

Dinner is served!

Do you eat gizzards? How do you prepare them?

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I dug out my recipe for chicken cacciatore. There is nothing like the aromas of cooking with a hearty red wine drifting throughout the house! I realized that it has been too long since I made this dish! This is a dish that originated in Italy, and the word “cacciatore” means “hunter’s style.” It can be made not only with chicken but rabbit as well. So let’s head off into the kitchen!

Ingredients
Chicken
Flour
Garlic powder
Hungarian paprika
Salt and pepper
3 TBS butter
5 TBS Extra virgin olive oil
5 cloves of minced garlic
1 onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
2 cans of tomatoes
1 TBS tomato paste
1 cup of dry red wine
One healthy pinch of oregano and one of thyme
2 TBS parsley
2 cups of fresh mushrooms, cleaned and sliced

Give yourself about 2 1/2 hours to make this dish. Start by washing and drying the chicken. Next mix the flour with the a bit of garlic powder, paprika, salt and pepper in a bag, and shake to combine. Add the chicken and shake. Set aside.

In a skillet heat the olive oil, butter and minced garlic. As the aromas raise to capture your nose it its grip, add the chicken skin side down and scatter with the onion and bell pepper.

Brown the chicken and onions

My bell, unfortunately, had a critter living inside, so I had to do without it – and this was OK too. Brown the chicken on both sides.

Doesn’t that look lovely?

After the chicken browns, add the tomatoes, tomato paste, red wine, and herbs.

Tomatoes, wine and spices added

Bring this up to a gentle boil, then turn the heat to low and simmer for one hour. Stir this periodically turning the chicken.

Stir periodically and enjoy the aromas

After an hour, add the mushrooms and combine.

Mushrooms added

Continue to simmer for another half hour.

When dinner is ready, serve this dish over pasta. I actually take some of the sauce from the pan and add it to the pasta until it is well coated with the sauce. Then I plate this, adding the chicken on top and a bit of Parmesan too!

Dinner is served!

Don’t forget your green vegetable!

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With the hot temperatures for the last week, we needed something cool to eat. What could be better than a huge tomato stuffed with chicken salad? This is another easy recipe. If you make the chicken salad early in the day, then the flavors will have a chance to meld…Here is a preview…

Preview

Let’s dive in, shall we? This serves two.

Ingredients
2 cans of chicken, chilled
3 stalks of celery
2 good slices of onion
1 TBS Mrs. Dash
Chili flakes
Mayonnaise
2 large tomatoes
Green salad

Drain the juices out of the can of chicken and add to a mixing bowl. Break up the chunks to shred the chicken.

Break up the chicken

Next chop up the celery and the onion and add to the chicken. Stir until well combined.

Combine in the celery and onion

Next add the Mrs. Dash and stir well.

Add Mrs. Dash

If you want a bit of heat, add the chili flakes. Let this sit in the refrigerator until you are ready to eat.

When ready to serve, remove the stem end of the tomato. Next, slice the sides being careful not to cut all the way through. Open up the tomato so that it resembles a flower. Using a spoon, stuff the tomato with the chicken salad between the slices and then spoon more on the top. Set this on top of your salad and serve!

Stuffed tomatoes!

I hope that you enjoy this easy salad! To change this up, you can also prepare a tomato and stuff it with bay shrimp!

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Chicken Dijon


Remember all those chicken thighs my husband brought home? Well last night I used more of them in this simple, yet very tasty Chicken Dijon! Would you like to see a preview? OK!

Preview – Chicken Dijon

Let’s get started making this easy dish together, shall we? Here we go!

Ingredients
Chicken – I used only 4 thighs but you can cook up whatever you want
Dijon mustard
1 large shallot – I didn’t have one so I used a regular onion, chopped finely
1/4 cup of butter
Italian seasoned bread crumbs

That is it for the ingredients! Wash the chicken pieces and dry them. Add them to a baking pan.

Chicken goes into the oven to bake

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let them cool until you can easily handle them.

In the meantime, place the chopped shallots into a bowl and add a couple of heaping spoonfuls of Dijon mustard. Stir.

Dijon and onion mixture

When the chicken is cool enough to handle, coat the chicken with the mustard mixture. Place the breadcrumbs in a bowl, and roll the chicken in the breadcrumbs until well coated.

Chicken has been rubbed with mustard then breaded

Take the pan that you cooked the chicken in and drain the fat, then add the butter. Return the pan to the oven. When the butter has melted, add the chicken skin side down.

Chicken goes back into the oven

Bake for 15 minutes and then turn the chicken.

After 15 minutes turn the chicken

After another 15 minutes in the oven, the chicken should be done. Check to be sure using an meat thermometer.

Remove the chicken from the oven, and let it sit for a couple of minutes before serving so the juices settle. And here is the finished dish served up with some pan fried potatoes and peas!

Dinner is served!

I hope that you try this recipe! We certainly enjoyed it and the amazing flavors!

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Did you know that buttermilk actually softens meat? It is the acids given off by the micro organisms in the milk that break down the connective tissues thereby tenderizing the meat. It can be used not only on chicken, but on any tough cut of meat.

I was feeling like some fried chicken, and this recipe is so easy, that I decided to make the dish and share this with you! Here is a preview…

Look at these beauties!

Ingredients
3/4 of a quart of buttermilk
Spices – I used a pre-made Mediterranean spice mix
Whole cut up chicken – I used 7 chicken thighs this time
1 1/2 cups of flour
1/2 cup of vegetable oil

Early in the day, wash and dry the chicken. Pour the buttermilk into a ziplock bag. Add 3 TBS of the spice mix to the bag, seal and shake to combine. Then add the chicken.

Chicken soaking in buttermilk and spices

Let this sit in the refrigerator all day until you are ready to cook.

When ready to cook, remove the chicken from the refrigerator. In a bowl, add the flour. Take each piece of chicken and dredge it in the flour until it is thoroughly coated. Set on a wire rack and let this sit for a bit so that the crust hardens.

After dredging in flour let them sit

When it comes to cooking you have your choice. You can either fry it up in a skillet or fry it in the oven. I chose the oven. Set the oven temperature to 350. Add the oil to the baking pan and place in the oven. By the time the oven heats the oil should be a good cooking temperature. Add the chicken and return to the oven.

Add to baking pan

Bake 30 minutes and then turn. Cook 30 minutes longer or until the top gets nice and brown and crispy.

I served this up with cold homemade potato salad and a homemade pasta salad.

Dinner is served!

Yummy!

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