Family Chicken

Recipes float around the web, many of them trendy, some retro, and others really off-beat. Trying new ones can be risky. Have they been tested? Is the developer strong on the write-up, but weak on delivery? You can put all those questions to rest with this recipe. Found in a cookbook from 1899, it has been in Mom’s family for decades, and cooked so many times that it has come to be known simply as “Family Chicken.”

I ask you- Can a recipe this well-loved not be delicious?

In my whole life, I don’t think I’ve ever made one batch at a time of this marinade. People love it so much that we usually make 4-6 times the recipe, and then hope that we have a few pieces leftover to eat cold out of the refrigerator the next morning (many of our favorite way to eat it).

It only takes a few minutes to whip this together. Probably you have all of the ingredients already in your pantry. Here they are, so you can get started…

Who knew oil, vinegar, black pepper, salt, eggs and poultry seasoning could be so magical?

First, measure out the oil into your bowl…

If you’re worried about the amount of oil in this recipe, don’t be. It’s a marinade, and very little of it will be absorbed.

Next, dump in the vinegar…

It’s best with apple cider vinegar, but we didn’t have any. Rice vinegar will also work, in a pinch.

Then add salt…

Again, please don’t be concerned about the amount of salt in this recipe. Most of it will not be absorbed by the chicken. No matter how much you’re tempted, resist cutting down the salt from the prescribed amount. People have asked for this recipe in the past, and then complained that it didn’t taste like ours. When asked if they cut the salt, they always admitted that they had.

Next add pepper…

…poultry seasoning…

…eggs…

…and then whisk ingredients together…

until thoroughly combined.

Now grab a container of some kind (we used large jars, because they fit well into our fridge, held a lot of chicken, and kept all the pieces covered in marinade), and fill it up with chicken pieces.

Ladle marinade over the top…

…until all the chicken pieces are covered.

For the life of me, I couldn’t get a straight shot of this chicken. You’d think I was on a ship, not a balcony overlooking the river.

Make sure to marinate an abundance of chicken, and try to prepare it at least two days in advance, so it has plenty of time to soak up all that great marinade flavor.

We made four jars worth, to accommodate one of our large Sunday night crowds.

In passing, I think every ridiculously large mayonnaise jar secretly dreams of being filled with family chicken, don’t you? :)

As I said before, it’s best if you make it two days in advance, but you should at least let it marinate overnight before you cook it. We find that the chicken is best if it’s cooked outdoors and has that nice char-grilled flavor. However, it’s also acceptable to bake it in the oven until it’s golden brown.

You could serve it on your balcony overlooking the river, or you could do what we did and serve it to these friends…

…plus these friends…

…in addition to these friends…

…for Sunday dinner. Our friends here all love family chicken, and it’s hard to make enough so that we have a little left over to eat cold for breakfast. :) We’re glad to be able to share this special treat, passed down through Mom’s family, with our China family now. Maybe you should make some for your family this week!

Family Chicken-

1/2 cup oil

1 cup vinegar (preferably apple cider vinegar)

2 tablespoons salt (don’t scrimp!)

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 egg

1 1/2 teaspoons poultry seasoning

Chicken pieces (I just realized I have absolutely no idea how much chicken 1 batch of marinade covers. Maybe 8 pieces? I’ve never made that little.)

Directions

Mix marinade ingredients together and whisk well. Place chicken in container and cover with marinade. Store in refrigerator for 2 days, shaking occasionally to redistribute ingredients. Bake or grill until golden brown and cooked through. Be sure to make plenty, because this chicken goes fast!

Mmmm- here’s a plateful of tangy, juicy, crispy perfection. Come on, join the family; make some Family Chicken for your loved ones! :)

Homemade Chips and Restaurant-Style Salsa

Having spent 16 years in Texas, chips and salsa are to us what french fries and ketchup are to most people. When we moved to China, we craved the crunchy, salty chips, smothered in the tangy zip of salsa, but could only find pale, stale imitations for exorbitant rates at the foreign food store. For years, we had no way to solve this fiesta fiasco…until we moved to the Muslim section of town and discovered flat breads. Eureka! These large, thin disks aren’t exactly tortillas, but they definitely served our purpose.

For those of you who don’t live in a developing country and can easily buy bags of chips whenever the mood strikes, feel free to scroll down to the salsa part of the post. For my fellow expatriates, I hope you find the secret to delicious tortilla chips as exciting as we did!

Start with large Muslim flat breads (or tortillas if you can get them, or Indian naan if that’s the part of the world you live in).

Cut into strips…

…and then cut those strips into triangles…

…until you have a whole bowlful prepared.

Set up  your work station, with a wok full of oil (or a frying pan…but I’m doing it China style) and a platter lined with paper towels next to it.

When the oil is sufficiently hot (I test it by dropping in a chip and seeing if it sizzles vigorously), take a handful of chips and carefully drop them into the oil.

Don’t worry if your hands aren’t as large as mine; you can just drop in two handfuls. :)

Stir the chips so that they brown evenly. See my handy super-sized chopsticks? They’re one of my favorite kitchen tools, especially when deep-frying.

Remove from oil (it should only take about a minute to a minute and a half per batch), drain and lightly salt.

If you’re looking for a more health-conscious method for making these chips, you can lightly coat the raw chips in olive oil and bake in the oven a few minutes until crisp. Mom did that, and she said they were almost as tasty as the deep fried chips.

Now for the other half of this dynamic duo!

First, assemble whole, peeled tomatoes; onion; bell pepper; a garlic clove; cilantro; lemon juice; and salt.

Dump one can of whole, peeled tomatoes into the blender. Probably you’re thinking that fresh tomatoes would be preferable, but we’ve tried it both ways and think the canned are better in this recipe (shocking, I know). They’re also expedient, as you don’t have to peel or chop the tomatoes.

Peel and smash a clove of garlic. Be sure that your cutting board is thoroughly disreputable, just like ours. :)

Roughly chop half a bell pepper…

…half a small onion or one fourth of a large one…

…and a bunch of cilantro.

Dump all of these into the blender, along with several healthy dashes of lemon juice (you can use fresh squeezed, if you have it, or lime juice is also good)…

…and salt.

If you have a jalapeno, now would be a good time to add that. We can’t get those here, and the Chinese hot peppers just don’t taste right, so we go without the heat. Blend for a few seconds, until salsa looks like this-

Now add one final can of tomatoes…

..and pulse very quickly, leaving it slightly chunky. Our blender is turbo-powered, so my salsa didn’t have very many chunks in it. That’s okay, it was still good!

As you can see, it makes quite a lot, so feel free to cut  the recipe in half unless you have a large family or want to munch on it for several days.

Chips and salsa- the perfect pairing! It almost made me want to burst into Spanish, but after ten years in China “Mama, where are my pajamas?” and “The fat man is eating the bread” is about all I remember, so I will refrain. :)

Mmmmm, this makes me one happy senorita!

Restaurant-Style Salsa

Two cans of whole, peeled tomatoes

Half a bell pepper

Half a small onion or a quarter of a large onion

One clove of garlic

One bunch cilantro

One jalapeno (if desired)

Lemon juice

Salt

Directions:

Throw one can of tomatoes into a blender. Roughly chop the bell pepper, onion, garlic, cilantro and jalapeno. Add several generous dashes of lemon juice (depending on how acidic you like it; I like mine pretty lemony) and salt to taste. Blend for several seconds. Throw in final can of tomatoes and quickly pulse, leaving slightly chunky.

This recipe is very forgiving; in fact, I almost hesitate to call it a recipe, because I never measure. If you like your salsa a little sweeter, you could throw in some mango or peach. If you like it chunkier, pulse in the blender for a briefer time.

Should keep in the refrigerator for up to a week.

 

P.S. Many thanks to my friend, Rachel, for making this treat possible. We no longer live in the Muslim section of town, and have been unable to find these breads anywhere. She made a special stop in our old neighborhood to pick these up for us, knowing how much I had been craving chips and salsa. Is she a great friend, or what? :)

Hash Brown Waffles

Every once in a while, I come across an idea when I’m perusing food blogs that is so brilliant, so revolutionary, I’m amazed I’ve never heard of it before. Recently, while browsing Foodie with Family, I saw her method for cooking hash browns in a waffle iron, and instantly knew I had to try it. How could shredded potatoes browned to crispy perfection not be good?

What follows is a method, more than a recipe. I didn’t take very many pictures because I was hungry (just keeping it real). :)

Start by greasing your waffle iron generously. You could use butter, but we had bacon grease; so like most women raised in the South, I used that.

Peel and shred a medium sized potato and spread it over the waffle iron’s surface. If you live where you can get that kind of thing, feel free to use pre-shredded hash browns. That would certainly save time.

Dust the potatoes with salt and freshly ground black pepper, then pop the lid down and set something heavy on top of it (I used a heavy frying pan).

Before long, the smell of sizzling potatoes will fill the kitchen. Resist peeking. Let the waffle iron do its thing. You’ll notice unwanted moisture dripping down the sides. This is good; it means the end result will be that much more crisp.

The one downside to this method is that it takes a while, especially if you have a wimpy waffle iron like ours. Probably a full ten minutes passed before my potatoes were as brown as I wanted them. Be assured, it was worth the wait.

Mmmmm, a hash brown waffle, topped with an egg over easy, with an iced Americano coffee. Do I need to tell you how yummy this was?

I’m not a fan of mushy potatoes, so the brown crust the waffle iron formed on these was perfect. If you like your potatoes a bit more fluffy, by all means don’t let them cook as long as I did, or don’t weigh the top down.

Ten seconds after this photo was taken, I was enjoying my first bite of this delicious treat. Have you had breakfast yet? :)

Hash Brown Waffles

One medium potato per person, peeled and shredded

or

One cup pre-shredded hash browns

Salt and pepper

Butter (or bacon grease, or some other oil)

Instructions

Grease a waffle iron, top and bottom. Evenly spread shredded potatoes over it, salt and pepper to taste. Close waffle iron and weigh top down with something heavy. Cook to desired brownness.

I would imagine the variations on this would be limited only by your imagination. You could add cooked and drained breakfast sausage, herbs, cheese, bacon, or basically anything else that would tasty good cooked crispy with potatoes. Sweet potatoes could be substituted for their paler cousin. It’s delicious topped with an egg over easy, but I’m sure sausage gravy, sour cream and chives or many other things would also be tasty. Enjoy!

 

Seven Layer Chinese, a.k.a. Hawaiian Haystack


Since our food blog is called “Our Daily Rice,” I thought it only fitting that we post something that actually has rice in it. Depending on who you ask, this dish is called Seven Layer Chinese, or Hawaiian Haystack. Our pastor’s wife in Texas used to make it, and we’ve adopted it as something that almost everyone likes to eat. Each component is in a separate bowl, so people can add or not, as they like. Even the pickiest eaters are pleased.

Much to my chagrin, I realized that if I was going to write for a food blog, I needed to have recipes! While that is no problem with baking, I fear it will tax my usual “throw in some of this and some of that until it looks about right, mix together, then cook until done” method of preparing old standbys. I am also accustomed to cooking for a large family, and confess to not having fully adjusted to our smaller group of only six. What I’m saying here is, if you fix it, I hope you indeed like it, because you might be eating it a while! :)

Assembling Seven Layer Chinese requires great skill. Start with a scoop of rice. Beware, too much rice at the beginning, and the serving will quickly mount to monumental proportions.

Spoon chicken gravy over the bed of rice.

Layer three is key, and I believe it makes the whole dish. Add a dollop of crushed pineapple, including some of the juice.

Then sprinkle on celery…

…green onion…

…almonds…

…and fried wonton strips (you can also use chow mein noodles).

Drizzle soy sauce over the top, and enjoy the savory, sweet, tangy, crunchy, satisfying combination. Make it tonight, and add a new family favorite to your repertoire. Bonus- use the crockpot and avoid heating up your kitchen!

Here’s the recipe-

Seven Layer Chinese

3 cups steamed rice

4 pieces of chicken (I recommend using bone-in thighs for flavor, but boneless thighs or breasts are easier)

2 cans cream of chicken soup

1 can chicken broth

1 large can crushed pineapple (or you can use fresh, and chop it finely)

2 stalks celery

Small bunch green onion

1 cup almonds (I recommend slivered, but chopped or sliced will do)

Fried wonton strips (or you could use chow mein, but fried wontons are so yummy!)

Directions: Place chicken, cream of chicken soup, and chicken stock in crock pot, and cook for 3-4 hours, shredding chicken once it is cooked through and returning to sauce. If necessary, add a bit more chicken broth (or water and chicken bullion) at the end.

Steam rice using any method you like. We use a rice cooker, since the sticky rice it produces is perfect with chopsticks.

Chop pineapple (unless you’re using canned), celery, green onion and almonds. Cut wonton wrappers into thin strips and fry them in hot oil until crispy. Put out bowls of each ingredient, and allow your family to assemble their own. Use chopsticks to make it feel more “authentic.” :)

Serves four.

P.S. Two young ladies who are staying with us, Alyssa and Lacy, specifically requested that I post this recipe and tell their parents to make it a.s.a.p. I think they liked it!