When It’s Chicken-Cookin’ Time in Alabama

Thai-Inspired Stuffed Chicken Breast and Slaw
Warm Chicken Black Bean Salad with Mango Dressing
Pecan Chicken Sticks with Collard Couscous
Chicken Paillards with Asian Salad
Zesty Ginger Beer BBQ Pulled Chicken Sandwiches

If you’ve ever wondered how to get out of the same-old same old with chicken, look no further than the National Chicken Cooking Contest. Ethnic and regional influences were evident at the 47th of these bi-annual contests, held this spring in Birmingham, Alabama. Fifty-one contestants – from the 50 states and Washington, D.C. – vied for a top prize of $100,000.

Thai-Inspired Stuffed Chicken Breast and Slaw, the Idaho entry, prepared by Michelle Anderson of Eagle, was the judges’ top choice. “The dish looked spectacular and tasted delicious. We knew it was a contender from the first bite,” says Nancy Dell’Aria, food editor of Woman’s Day and chairman of the judging panel.

The recipe combined boneless chicken breasts with jasmine rice and a Thai-style slaw (for another slaw recipe that might work well with this, see Comfort Foods, Page 22), along with shredded coconut, coconut milk, Thai chili sauce and peanuts.

“I especially enjoy Thai cuisine and wanted to create a recipe inspired by the flavors found in Thai cooking,” Anderson says.

The other winners are Sally Sibthorpe of Shelby Township, Michigan, who won second place for her Warm Chicken Black Bean Salad with Mango Dressing; Susan Scarborough of Fernandina Beach, Florida, took third place with Pecan Chicken Sticks with Collard Couscous; Susan Cortesi of Northbrook, Illinois, was in fourth place with Chicken Paillards with Asian Salad; and the youngest contestant, 23-year-old Jennifer White of Columbus, Ohio, added fifth-place to her résumé with Zesty Ginger Beer BBQ Pulled Chicken Sandwiches.

The contest’s sponsors, the National Chicken Council and the U.S. Poultry & Egg Association, received thousands of original chicken recipes, from which they selected the top 51 recipes.

While the location for the bi-annual contest changes – rotating through chicken-producing states and members of the council – the concept doesn’t. Each contestant has her or his own small cooking area with range and work space, and contestants have three hours to prepare their special dish twice, once for the judges and once for display. The judges then taste and discuss, judging each dish on taste, appearance, simplicity and overall appeal.

First place winner Michelle Anderson of Eagle, Idaho, says she has been fortunate to have many good cooks in her life to inspire her.

Thai-Inspired Stuffed Chicken Breast and Slaw

Wagner International Photos/
Thai-Inspired Stuffed Chicken Breast and Slaw

1 cup cooked jasmine rice
1/2 cup shredded coconut
2 green onions, finely sliced
1/2 cup finely chopped Thai basil
1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons Thai chili sauce
2 limes, juice and zest, divided
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
1 can (14 ounces) coconut milk
1 cup chopped roasted peanuts
3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup white sesame seeds, toasted
1/4 cup black sesame seeds, toasted
Thai-style Slaw (recipe follows)
1/2 English cucumber, thinly sliced
Lime wedges

For Thai-style Slaw:
3/4 cup chunky peanut butter
1/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar
Juice of 1 lime
1 finely minced Thai chili
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 cup chopped basil
1 Napa cabbage, finely sliced
1 English cucumber, coarsely grated
1 carrot, grated
1/2 red onion, finely diced

To prepare Thai-style Slaw:
In large bowl, mix together peanut butter, rice vinegar, lime juice and Thai chili. Stir in cilantro, basil, cabbage, cucumber, carrot and onion. Refrigerate.

To prepare chicken:
In large bowl, mix together rice, coconut, green onion, basil, cilantro, chili sauce, 1 tablespoon lime juice and zest of 1 lime.

Place chicken between 2 sheets of plastic wrap; pound to even thickness. Place equal amounts of rice mixture on each chicken breast half. Wrap chicken around filling; secure with wooden pick.

Heat oven to 350°F.

In glass pie plate, mix together flour, zest of 1 lime, salt and pepper. In another plate, mix coconut milk and 2 tablespoons lime juice. In third plate, mix together peanuts, panko, white and black sesame seeds.

Roll chicken breasts, one at a time, first in flour mixture, then in coconut milk mixture and, finally, in peanut mixture, coating well. In shallow baking pan, arrange chicken, seam side down; place in oven. Bake 30 minutes, or until juices run clear.

Place slaw on serving platter; remove wooden picks and add chicken to platter. Garnish with cucumber, lime and cilantro. Yields 4 servings.

Sally Sibthorpe of Shelby Township, Michigan, has been selected as a state contestant in the two previous National Chicken Cooking Contests.

Warm Chicken Black Bean Salad with Mango Dressing

Wagner International Photos/
Warm Chicken Black Bean Salad with Mango Dressing

2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1 cup jasmine rice
2 cups chicken stock
2 cups rotisserie chicken, cut in bite-size pieces
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 cup sliced scallions
1/2 cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup diced avocado
1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
Mango Mojo Dressing (recipe follows)
2 rings red bell pepper
Sprig cilantro

Mango Mojo Dressing:
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1 small hot red chili, stemmed and seeded
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 mango, peeled and cubed
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

To prepare Mango Mojo Dressing:
In heavy, small skillet over medium-high heat, place cumin seeds and toast until fragrant, about 2 minutes. In mini food processor, place cumin seeds, garlic, red chili and salt; grind to coarse paste. Add olive oil, mango and juices. Return mixture to skillet and heat until warm.

To prepare chicken: In large saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Add almonds and sauté until golden. Add rice and cook 1 minute more. Stir in chicken stock, cover pan and simmer about 20 minutes until rice is cooked. Mix in chicken, cilantro, scallions, beans, avocado and diced pepper. Drizzle chicken mixture with half the Mango Mojo Dressing and toss. Spoon onto serving dish and garnish with red pepper rings and cilantro sprig. Pass remaining dressing. Yields 4 servings.

Susan Scarborough of Fernandina Beach, Florida, finds inspiration for her recipes in vintage cookbooks.

Pecan Chicken Sticks with Collard Couscous

Wagner International Photos/
Pecan Chicken Sticks with Collard Couscous

8 medium chicken drumsticks
5 tablespoons maple syrup, divided
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
3/4 cup finely ground pecans
1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon spicy Cajun-style chicken seasoning
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 cups frozen chopped collard greens, mostly thawed
1/2 cup chopped yellow onion
1 3/4 cups chicken broth
1 1/3 cups couscous
2/3 cup cooked, drained and crumbled bacon bits
2 tablespoons grainy mustard
1/4 cup toasted pecan pieces

Scrape/cut meat off bone on bottom 1/2 inch of each chicken drumstick to form small “handle.” Brush chicken with 2 tablespoons maple syrup and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

In large plastic zip-top bag, place ground pecans, flour and chicken seasoning. Add chicken and shake to coat.

In large, heavy, ovenproof skillet, place oil over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook, turning to brown on all sides. Cover and place skillet in 375°F oven. Cook 10 minutes; uncover, turn chicken and cook 10 minutes more, or until done. Remove chicken to plate and keep warm.

To skillet, add collards and onion; stir-fry about 3 minutes over medium-high heat.

In separate pan, bring chicken broth to a boil. Stir in couscous, remove from heat, cover and let stand 7 minutes; fluff with fork. Stir couscous and bacon into collard mixture; cook 3 minutes more to heat through.

In small microwave-safe bowl, mix together remaining 3 tablespoons syrup and mustard. Microwave on medium 1 minute.

To serve, place equal portions of couscous on each of 4 plates. Arrange 2 chicken legs in center of each and drizzle with maple-mustard mixture. Garnish with pecan pieces. Yields 4 servings.

Susan Cortesi of Northbrook, Illinois, credits a childhood friend – a woman she calls her stand-in grandmother – for her love of cooking.

Chicken Paillards with Asian Salad

Wagner International Photos/
Chicken Paillards with Asian Salad

4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (6 ounces each)
1/4 cup white miso paste
1/4 cup mirin
2 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons thinly sliced green onion
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 teaspoons sesame oil
2 teaspoons brown sugar
8 wonton wrappers
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
4 cups baby lettuce mix
1/2 cup grated carrot
1/2 cup diced red cabbage
1/2 cup peeled and thinly sliced English cucumber
1/3 cup diced red onion
1/4 cup thinly sliced radishes
Dressing (recipe follows)
2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted
Lime slices
Cilantro sprigs

3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
1/2 teaspoon Thai chili garlic paste
1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt

Place chicken between 2 sheets plastic wrap; pound to 1/4-inch thickness. In medium bowl, whisk together miso paste, mirin, rice vinegar, soy sauce, green onion, garlic, sesame oil and brown sugar. Pour over chicken, cover and refrigerate at least 30 minutes.

Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Brush wonton wrappers on both sides with vegetable oil; cut in thin strips. Place strips on parchment paper, sprinkle with kosher salt and bake in 350°F oven about 8 minutes until crisp and brown. Cool on paper towels.

Place ridged grill pan over medium high heat; spray with cooking spray. Remove chicken from marinade and place on pan, 2 at a time; discard marinade. Cook chicken about 5 minutes on one side; turn and cook 4 minutes more. Cover with foil to keep warm.

To prepare dressing: In medium bowl, whisk together vegetable oil, sesame oil, rice vinegar, fresh lime juice and soy sauce. Add sugar, cilantro, chili garlic paste and seasoned salt. Whisk to mix well.

To serve, in large bowl, toss together lettuce, carrot, cabbage, cucumber, red onion and radishes. Sprinkle with half of wonton strips, add dressing and mix well. Place chicken on serving platter and mound salad on top. Sprinkle with remaining wonton strips and sesame seeds. Garnish with lime slices and cilantro sprigs. Yields 4 servings.

Jennifer White of Columbus, Ohio, says her grandmother was her inspiration, both for cooking in general and for the sweet potato biscuits that are the bread in these sandwiches.

Zesty Ginger Beer BBQ Pulled Chicken Sandwiches

Wagner International Photos/
Zesty Ginger Beer BBQ Pulled Chicken Sandwiches

2 cups ginger beer
1 cup ketchup
1/2 cup hoisin sauce
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Chinese five spice powder
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 rotisserie cooked chicken, skin removed, meat shredded
Sweet Potato Bacon Biscuits (recipe follows)

Sweet Potato Bacon Biscuits:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup chopped yellow onion
1/4 teaspoon sugar
2 cups flour
2 tablespoons brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup cooked, crisp bacon, chopped
3/4 cup cold sweet potato puree
1/3 cup buttermilk

To prepare Sweet Potato Bacon Biscuits: Heat oven to 425°F. In small skillet over medium heat, place olive oil, yellow onion and sugar. Lower heat and cook about 10 minutes, until onions are caramelized; cool completely and set aside.

In food processor, add flour, brown sugar, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Pulse to combine; add butter and pulse until mealy.

Remove mixture to large bowl; fold in bacon and onions. In glass measuring cup, mix together sweet potato puree and buttermilk; stir into flour mixture.

Form soft dough; place on floured surface and pat to 1-inch thickness. With 2-inch cookie cutter, cut biscuits. Arrange in buttered skillet and bake about 25 minutes.

To prepare chicken: In medium saucepan, place ginger beer, ketchup, hoisin sauce, orange juice, lime juice, sugar, honey, Worcestershire sauce, vinegar, five spice powder, garlic, onion powder, salt and pepper. On low heat, simmer 15 minutes; add chicken and remove from heat. Keep warm.

To serve, split each biscuit in half. Place 1/2 cup chicken on bottom half and top with remaining half. Yields 6 servings.

If you’ve been looking for a long lost recipe, or can provide one, please write to Recipe Box, c/o Grit, 1503 S.W. 42nd St., Topeka, KS 66609 or email us at Please include your name, address and daytime phone. Recipes cannot be returned as they are eventually sent to the person requesting the recipe. Recipe requests and responses will be printed at our discretion and as space allows.

  • Published on Sep 1, 2007
© Copyright 2022. All Rights Reserved - Ogden Publications, Inc.