I make no claims to authenticity for this dish. It was thrown together from things out of my pantry, and I must say it was very tasty. I had dinner early and when the hubby came home late to eat his I was sorely tempted to have a second bowl. Pantry meals are essential to anyone’s repertoire, and sometimes you rely on some pre-packaged items to cut down on time.

Of course you could use a can of diced tomatoes – or even chop up a tomato or two. Then you could add a can of diced chilies – or roast and dice your own fresh chilies. I am sure it would add significantly to the flavor. But I, being a good southern girl, always have a couple of cans of Rotel in the pantry and it gives me the tomatoes, chilies and some additional spices in one convenient package. Turn your nose up if you will – but it makes life easier for me.

I totally forgot to put the cheese on - you can imagine it yourself.

Easy Mexican Chicken Soup

The Hardware: large saucepan, spoon, can opener.

The Software:
1 Onion
2 t Chopped Garlic
1 can Rotel (I used mild because I am a wussy – use whatever you can handle)
2 T Lizano Sauce
2 C Shredded Chicken (had it in the ‘fridge, you could use rotisserie if that’s your thang)
2 pinches Oregano (dried)
2 pinches Cumin
1 T Lime Juice
1 Qt Chicken Stock (I used home-made, you do whatever you want)
1 C Frozen Corn
3 T Masa
pinches of Salt, Pepper and Granulated garlic to taste
2 C cooked rice or a couple of handfuls of  tortilla strips

Slice onions into half rounds and saute in a large saucepan in a couple of tablespoons of oil until the onions are soft. When they start getting brownish add the garlic and saute for about a minute – don’ t let the garlic burn. Add the Rotel, Lizano & chicken and stir around a bit, bring to a simmer. Add stock, lime juice, oregano & cumin and bring back up to almost a simmer. Then sprinkle in the Masa and curse when it forms dumpling-like globules.

Seek and destroy Masa globules by squashing them against the wall of the saucepan with the back of your spoon. Or you could be smart and measure out the Masa into a small bowl and add some of the not-yet-hot stock to it to form one of them there fancy pants “slurries”  before you add it to the pot.

Bring everything up to a simmer and then add the corn. Bring to a boil, stirring to make sure nothing sticks and scorches. Adjust seasoning with salt, pepper & granulated garlic until you are happy. If you are using rice, divide it between your bowls and then serve the soup over top. If you are using tortilla strips put the soup in first and then top with crunchies.

It doesn’t hurt to sprinkle some cheese on top. But really – can’t you say that about just about anything?

Potential Hacks:

This could easily go vegetarian. Replace the chicken stock with veg stock and replace the chicken with a can or two of beans, poofy violia – vegetarian. Actually, the beans would be good as an add on if you wanted to bulk it up more. Skip the cheese and dairy and I believe this would be vegan – but I have limited understanding of vegantology.

If you do not have Masa hanging around (and I am guessing that is a goodly number of people) then you can just crumble up some tortilla chips and let them simmer in the soup. They will disintegrate and serve the same thickening purpose. You know what tortilla chips are made out of? Masa.

This came out a bit spicier than I really cared for, cause I am a wuss, so I wanted to add some sour cream to dial back the heat. But I didn’t have any sour cream. Whipped cream cheese, however, was in my ‘fridge. So I made some little canels out of the cream cheese and, after being stirred in well, it worked fine. Sour cream would have been better.

And of course, there is the Lizano. You really should just keep it in your ‘fridge. It is a wonderful thing. It is delicious in eggs. It can turn regular rice into instant Mexican rice. Stir it into a drained can of beans and you suddenly have super tasty beans. Dribble it onto your tacos or burritos. It is a fantastic ingredient that really has no substitute. If I have not convinced you to seek it out – then you are just going to have to crank up all of the seasonings. Add more cumin, oregano and garlic. Add a little chili powder, but be careful you do not turn the soup into chili.

The realization set in today that I was running the risk of writing an all canning blog this year – and of course that is not my intent. It is just that, having recently discovered my love of canning, I want to share it with everyone. But rest assured, my family does not sit down to dinner with a jar of jam and a spoon. We also eat salsa.

I kid, I kid.

Roasted chicken is frequently on the menu. Roasted chicken is where it is at. As far as I am concerned, Roasted chicken is the platonic ideal, the ultimate pinnacle of Chicken Cookery.

The business end of the Bird.

Once, after roasting a chicken to pull apart for a casserole I realized that the golden crispy skin would just go to waste.

So I ate it. All of it. The skin from an entire chicken.

That is how I feel about Roasted Chicken.

Roasted Chicken

The Hardware: roasting pan, oven set to 425 degrees, kitchen twine.

The Software:

A whole Chicken
Stuff to shove up its’ butt
Salt & pepper

Most recipes call for one to place “aromatics” into the “cavity” of the chicken. Not being one to pussyfoot around – I just think of it as shoving stuff up the chicken’s butt.

I am also very liberal in my definitions of “aromatics”. Mostly I look in the fridge and go “hmm, I wonder if that would work” and my response is usually “don’t know until you try”. I have yet to have any major failures. Since there has been a cornucopia of citrus in my home – citrus is what I ended up with. I also had left over fresh thyme, so why not?

Wash and dry your chicken well. Have 2 tangerines, cut one in half and peel & segment the other one. Clean a handful of fresh thyme. Place the chicken on your pan spine side up and sprinkle liberally with salt & pepper. Turn the bad boy over and shove 1/2 of the tangerine inside, then most of your thyme and follow with the second 1/2 of the tangerine.

Because I wanted to, this time I ran my hand under the skin and loosened it so I could shove the tangerine segments and thyme between the meat and the skin. Make sure to get some down into the leg and thigh area and evenly distribute everything. Season the top side with more salt & pepper then tie up his little legs like he is in a B-rated horror movie. One with Bruce Campbell preferably.

Cook until done – it usually takes about an hour. Roasted chicken and I have a love/hate relationship with the whole cooking time thing, that is why I have a meat thermometer. 165 is my goal temp and then I let it rest for 10 minutes before carving.

Except for the tail – I eat the tail right away.

I you look carefully you can see the thyme under the skin. mmmmmmm

Make sure you save all of the bones, juice and stuff to make stock. Stock is half the reason I roast whole chickens.

What are your favorite things to shove up a chicken’s butt?

Chicken! ChickenChickenChicken! Despite the aspersions cast upon this king of poultry, I love chicken. I think that chicken started getting a bad rap when it became “healthy”. Boneless, skinless chicken breast eroded the reputation of what is a most delicious addition to any meal. I don’t care for breast meat, it is pretty tasteless and dry most of the time. Gimmie the dark meat every time, and don’t you dare remove the skin. The skin is what makes it superb.

So, I decided to cull the food blogs to find y’all some good ideas for using chicken in a different way than you might regularly consider. First off, the best way to serve chicken – FRIED!

First off, from [No Recipes] we have Karaage or Japanese Fried Chicken. A soy, ginger & garlic marinade and cornstarch breading – how can you go wrong. I am especially intrigued by the mention that it is a commonly packed Bento (lunch box) item. I think this would make my little dude the envy of the entire preschool should I pack it for him.

From the always fabulous Chez Pim we score Thai-marinated fried chicken. I have never been to Thailand but this recipe with a garlic & cilantro marinade and rice flour for your dredge sounds like a good reason to book a flight. Or at least buy the slightly specialty pantry items to make it yourself.

Apparently the Asian type areas take their Fried Chicken as seriously as we do in the South because My Asian Kitchen rounds out the pack with Asian Ginger Marinated Fried Chicken. Again with the ginger and garlic – I really must try this, all of these people cannot be wrong. This recipe has an unusual aspect in that it uses self-rising flour. If you do not have any of the stuff you can make your own by combining 1 cup all-purpose flour, 1 1/4 t baking powder, and 1/8 t salt.

For some people, the fried is not their friend, and I am here to give you some love too. Don’t you worry.

I love witty blog names and Ezra Pound Cake cracks me up every time. They have provided us with an insanely tasty sounding Hawiian Chicken. With a lot of the Asian flavors included above it might just allow you to not miss the fried (tho I doubt it). Thoughtfully they have provided optional cooking directions for those of us who are grilling impaired. I don’t know what it is, but grills and I just don’t get along.

Getting even more exotic (at least for me)  Life’s Ambrosia gets all slow cookey on us with their Braised Indian Coconut Chicken. There is an awfully long marinade here – but hey it isn’t like you are actually doing anything when the chicken is marinading. And then, when your guests arrive and rave about how good the chicken is you can sigh and say “I am so glad you liked it, I was concerned that 10 hours for a dish might not be worth the time.” Then they will feel all guilty about the cheap a$$ bottle of wine they brought and next time you go to their house they will feed you steak.

Not that there is anything wrong with chicken. As I believe I mentioned, I love chicken. Y’all let me know how these dishes work out for y’all. My problem is deciding which one to make first.