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On the bookshelf: The Best Chicken Recipes

By J.M. HIRSCH
AP Food Editor
In the world of cookbooks and food magazines, rule No. 1 is simple ó chicken sells.
Americans have a seemingly insatiable appetite for chicken. Between 1970 and 2004, chicken consumption more than doubled to nearly 60 pounds per person a year, federal data show.
Which is why smart editors fill their pages with a steady stream of recipes for all manner of chicken dishes. Of course, that can create a bit of chicken recipe clutter. How to decide which recipes merit clipping?
The editors at Cook’s Illustrated magazine aim to make that easier with their latest cookbook, “The Best Chicken Recipes,” a weighty collection of their top tips and recipes for buying, prepping and cooking chicken.
From most publishers, the title would be mostly meaningless ó even wishful ó marketing. But the folks behind Cook’s Illustrated painstakingly test each recipe dozens of times during development
The recipes range from starters (such as Party Chicken Skewers) to chilies (White Chicken Chili) to slow, fast, light and leftovers (such as Moo Shu Chicken).
Here’s a sample recipe to test for yourself. Red-cooked chicken is slowly simmered in a broth of dark soy sauce, rice wine, ginger, scallions and star anise. Delicious.
Red-Cooked Chicken
Start to finish: 1 1/2 hours (45 minutes active)
Servings: 4 to 6
4 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken pieces (split breasts cut in half, drumsticks, and/or thighs), trimmed of excess fat
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus more as needed
6 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 2 tablespoons)
2 tablespoons minced or grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns
3 whole star anise
1/2 cup dark soy sauce
1/3 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup Chinese rice cooking wine or dry sherry
3 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
4 hard-cooked eggs, peeled
Pat the chicken dry with paper towels.
In a large Dutch oven over medium-high, heat the oil until just smoking. Brown half of the chicken on both sides, 5 to 8 minutes per side, reducing the heat if the pan begins to scorch.
Transfer the chicken to a plate, leaving the fat in the pot. Return the pot to medium-high heat and repeat with the remaining chicken. Transfer the chicken to the plate.
Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of fat from the pot. (Add additional oil to equal 1 tablespoon, if needed.)
Add the garlic, ginger, Sichuan peppercorns and star anise and cook over medium heat until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the soy sauce, chicken broth, rice wine, sesame oil and brown sugar, scraping up any browned bits.
Nestle the hard-cooked eggs and chicken, along with any accumulated juices, into the pot and bring to a simmer. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until the chicken is fully cooked and tender, about 20 minutes for the breasts (160 to 165 degrees) or 1 hour for the thighs and drumsticks (170-175), turning over the chicken and eggs halfway through cooking to ensure even coloring from the sauce. (If using both types of chicken, simmer the thighs and drumsticks for 40 minutes before adding the breasts.)
Transfer the chicken and eggs to a serving dish, tent loosely with foil and let rest while finishing the sauce.
Remove and discard the star anise. Skim as much fat as possible off the surface of the sauce. Pour the sauce over the chicken and eggs and serve.
(Recipe from Cooks Illustrated’s “The Best Chicken Recipes,” America’s Test Kitchen, 2008)

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