Mary Ann Lienhart-Cross
Food & Nutrition
Winter is a wonderful time of the year for real cooking, which to me is using the oven, stove top and small appliances. I like all kinds of meats and I like them prepared a variety of ways. So the topic of this column comes from my first time enjoying Puffed Rice Chicken. Yes, I have lived a long time and have enjoyed a lot of chicken but never had Puffed Rice Chicken until this holiday season. I enjoyed the chicken enough that I wanted to prepare it at home, so we went to the Internet and found a variety of recipes. Of course I had to “healthitize” the recipe by reducing the salt, not rinsing the chicken and patting it dry, and not using the margarine to drizzle on the chicken.
To start, this recipe gives me an opportunity to write about poultry and food safety. For some time, the United States Department of Agriculture, Food Safety Division and the Food and Drug Administration have been telling consumers to not wash poultry before cooking. I know that many of you have washed and rinsed poultry of all types for years and will continue to do so. Why the USDA says to not wash poultry makes sense from the food science/safety perspective. The following are facts — there is Salmonella on raw poultry and water is a medium that helps spread bacteria. So if you rinse poultry, you are just spreading the bacteria around. Yes, you are going to be cooking the food and killing the bacteria, but you don’t need to spread the bacteria around on the chicken or the rest of your kitchen. So the lesson here is that I know old habits are hard to break but don’t rinse or wash poultry. Just prepare poultry breast to 170 degrees and whole poultry, legs and thighs to 180.
So now to the rest of the Puffed Rice Chicken. The first time we enjoyed this our hostess was disappointed in how the chicken legs turned out; she thought they were dry and lacked flavor. As we talked about the chicken legs, like people who enjoy cooking do, we agreed the legs were dry. However, we liked this chicken so we made it for our hostess and dear friend’s birthday, and I now have another favorite food.
The recipe is in this column and also on the office website. So here is what we did: I had bought two whole chickens. (I had planned to use one of them to make old-fashioned pot pie, which is another one of my favorite winter foods.) So the chicken was cut up and we decided to leave the skin on. For the batter we really reduced the amount of salt; the chicken was dipped and then rolled or sprinkled with seasoned puffed rice cereal. We placed the chicken in a lightly greased glass 9” by 13” cake pan and baked it at 350 degrees for 1 hour. We did not drizzle any margarine or butter over it like the recipe called for. I will tell you that I was busy preparing other food in the kitchen and the aroma of the chicken baking was very pleasant!
We all enjoyed the chicken, I probably more than the others, and of course we discussed the difference in the flavor compared to the chicken legs that had started this all. There were several differences. We prepared a good size hen and we used buttermilk mixed with water so we would have enough liquid for the batter. We did not use all the salt so the chicken, which prevented the chicken from getting dried out. We also baked the chicken in our conventional oven, which I believe made for a browner, moister chicken. The chicken was delicious and the extras for another meal were just as good. The drippings in the bottom of the pan provided a discussion on all kinds of other chicken dishes. I will make this chicken again and will remove the chicken skin and let you know how it tastes.
Puffed Rice Chicken
4 cups puffed rice cereal
1 tsp. paprika
3/4 cup milk (we used buttermilk)
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. poultry seasoning
3 lbs. chicken pieces
Place cereal in a shallow dish or pan. Stir in paprika; set aside. In medium mixing bowl, beat egg and milk slightly. Add flour, salt, pepper and poultry seasoning. Mix until smooth. Dip chicken in batter then coat with cereal. Place in single layer, skin side up in a shallow baking pan (lightly) coated with cooking spray or foil lined. Bake at 350 degrees F about 1 hour or until chicken is tender, no longer pink, and juices run clear. Do not cover pan or turn chicken while baking. Serve hot.
Prepare, share and enjoy good food with friends!