Canada’s own Monda Rosenberg retired as Food Editor of CHATELAINE, Canada’s largest circulation magazine, in 2009. She was responsible for the magazine’s entire award-winning Food section, including writing and recipe development of over 2,000 recipes a year and overseeing food photography. Before joining CHATELAINE, Monda Rosenberg was Food Editor of the Toronto Star for five years.
Monda has received an impressive number of food writing, styling and publishing awards including the Nabisco Food Writer’s Magazine Food Editor of the Year Award, the New York Art Directors Award for Food Styling and the General Foods Nutrition Writing Award. She has been president of the Ontario Home Economics Association and president of the Toronto Home Economics Association for a double term. A frequent guest on national television and radio shows, Monda is the author of The New Chatelaine Cookbook, two Vitality Cookbooks, the Quickies series of 7 cookbooks and Chatelaine’s Wonder Foods.
Chicken in the fridge guarantees a good meal on the table no matter what I'm in the mood for. Whether I'm craving fiery or comforting, I know I can have something healthy on the table fast. Over my years at the magazine, we learned our readers also frequently turned to chicken for a family dinner. When not following a recipe, there were common questions they sent us time and time again. Here's a round-up of a few.
How can I saute boneless chicken so I end up with tender moist chicken without tough edges?
The trick is to not use high heat, no matter how much of a rush you are in, plus enough oil or butter in the pan to keep the chicken from sticking. For further protection for the tender chicken, begin by seasoning the chicken with salt, then lightly coating with flour and shaking off the excess, of course, just before putting it in the pan. This creates a thin barrier to protect the soft chicken from sticking, plus it encourages even browning and crisping. Then heat a frying pan over medium-high and add oil or butter. Better yet, add a little of both for even browning and buttery flavor. You need enough to richly coat the pan bottom. Once the butter's simmering hot, add the freshly coated chicken pieces. Whatever you do, don't crowd the pan.
As the chicken heats, it gives off moisture. A lot of moisture creates steam which prevents the chicken from browning. Cook until the underside is golden. This will take 3 to 4 minutes. Check the underside after a couple of minutes and if there is any burning happening, reduce the heat. Turn as soon as the bottom is beautifully golden all over. Then continue cooking until both sides are golden brown. To test if it is done, press down on the top of the breast with your finger - it should feel springy. If the chicken breast is huge, the outside may be browned to perfection before it is cooked through. If this is the case, reduce the temperature to low and cover. Continue cooking, turning occasionally, until cooked through. A large breast may need a total of 12 minutes to cook through.
Is it possible to roast a whole chicken in an hour?
Sure is, provided you have an average size chicken. To begin, preheat the oven to 450 F (230 C). While it heats, remove anything in the body cavity of the chicken. Rinse chicken inside and out with cold water, then pat the skin dry with paper toweling. So it will be easy to clean up, line a baking sheet or baking pan with foil. Put a baking rack in the pan if you have one. Place the chicken on the rack or in the pan. Rub the chicken all over with butter and generously sprinkle with coarse salt. Roast, uncovered, at 450 F (230 C) for about 15 minutes a pound (500g). I count on a 3 lb (1.5 kg ) chicken taking about 50 minutes and a 4 lb ( 2 kg) about an hour. Then if you like crispy skin, turn the oven off and open the oven door, but leave the chicken in the oven for 10 minutes. This gives the chicken a chance to rest before carving without covering it with foil to keep it warm. The problem with a foil tent - it softens the skin.
The most accurate way, of course, to test doneness is to insert an instant read thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh. It should register 170 F (77 C). The ideal way to roast a chicken is to place it in the pan, breast-side down, for the first half of the cooking. This way the juices run down into the breast as the chicken heats up instead of collecting in the back. Then you turn it over for the final half of the roasting so the skin on the breast browns and crisps. When I am busy this is often more than I want to do, but it does make a difference in the juiciness. So consider this step if you have the time and the inclination. While this high heat method produces a very juicy bird with little prep involved, it also produces smoke. If you have a fan in the kitchen or a good exhaust system - that will take care of the smoke. Placing a big piece of foil loosely over the bird at the beginning of the roasting also helps as does loosely covering the pan all around the chicken with foil so the chicken juices and fat in the pan can't splatter.
I often find it a struggle to pull the skin off chicken pieces?
The easiest way to remove chicken skin is with the help of a piece of paper towel. Begin by identifying the largest and thickest section of skin along the edge of the chicken piece. Loosen it from the chicken flesh underneath with your finger or the point of a paring knife until you have enough skin pulled away from the flesh that you are able to grab it with a piece of paper towel in your hand. Then pull away!