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Published: Tuesday, 5/26/2009

Crowd Pleasers: great recipes for the oven and stove top


Among this season's new grilling tools is the mesh roasting pan, which can accommodate a roast or poultry and be used on a gas or charcoal grill.

The idea of roasting with your grill only underscores the popularity of certain foods year round. One of them is roast chicken. But why not use your oven for the appetizing moist entree?

Two other year-round popular foods that you don't have to turn the grill on to cook are salmon and burgers.

All three can bring you back into the kitchen.

First, roasting a whole chicken takes time, but you can put it in the oven and forget it until it's cooked. This type of cooking allows you to get other tasks accomplished.

To roast meat or vegetables means to cook them dry, at high heat. With no added liquid in the dish, the natural sugars in the meat and vegetables caramelize, often forming the crunchy crust that seals in moisture. Roasted meats like chicken are easy to cook and impressive when cooked to temperature. A meat thermometer should read 180 degrees when inserted near the thigh bone or 170 degrees when inserted into the breast meat, according to the National Chicken Council.

When roasting meats like chicken, the natural moisture is forced to the center by the high heat. To redistribute these juices, let the chicken "rest" or sit at room temperature a few minutes before carving and serving.

Cuban-style Gingered Chicken is made with the whole bird. A four-to-six pound chicken is marinated in a Cuban-influenced blend of ginger, garlic, allspice, cinnamon, cumin, brown sugar, chicken broth, lime juice, orange juice, Worcestershire sauce, and hot sauce to taste. Then it is placed in a hot oven and roasted, cooking to 180 degrees in the deepest part of the thigh. Before serving sprinkle with chopped cilantro. A side of rice and a green vegetable makes a delicious meal.

Cuban-Style Ginger Chicken. Cuban-Style Ginger Chicken.

When food expert Angela Benko tested this recipe for The Blade, she said the flavor was good and her husband loved it.

The 2009 wild summer salmon season opened mid-May in Alaska with scientists forecasting the 11th largest season on record, according to the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute. Alaska provides more than 90 percent of the wild salmon from North America and is home to all five species of Pacific salmon: king, sockeye, coho, keta, and pink. All Alaska seafood is wild, natural, and sustainable.

Copper River (Alaska) salmon has become famous among seafood chefs and connoisseurs for the high oil content, rich "nutty" flavor, and velvety texture. These are darker in color than the flesh of other salmon with the sockeye possessing a deep red flesh and the king a dark orange to red flesh.

To prepare Seared Salmon with Spinach and Grapes, brown the salmon in olive oil in a nonstick skillet or saute pan, four minutes per side. Then bake in the oven 8 to 10 minutes until the salmon is just cooked through. A sauce of sauted grapes and dry red wine is drizzled over the salmon served on wilted spinach.

Searing the salmon gives a crispy exterior to a fillet without drying out the tender interior. The recipe takes only 30 minutes to cook.

A ground chicken burger with an Asian flavor earned Brigitte Nguyen of Lexington, Ky, the top prize of $50,000 in the 48th National Chicken Cooking Contest earlier this month in San Antonio.

Ms. Nguyen was among nine finalists from across the country in the competition sponsored by the National Chicken Council with Chinese Chicken Burgers with Rainbow Sesame Slaw. It's a recipe that I can attest is delicious and colorful.

Last November, I was among the three judges for the semi-finalists in Jackson, Miss. to select the East North Central Region winner (Warm Lemon Chicken over Panzanella Salad with Basil Aioli from Susan Cortesi in Illinois) and the East South Central region winner (Ms. Nguyen's Chinese Chicken Burgers). So I was especially as the grand prize winner this month.

The burger has a clear Asian flavor profile with zing, some sweetness, lime and lemongrass notes. The ground chicken is seasoned with soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, garlic, lemongrass and scallions. It is served on a toasted bun and is topped with lime-accented mayonnaise and chile sauce and served with a slaw of julienned peppers, snow peas, and jicama.

Among the ingredients in the recipe is Sriracha Chile Sauce, which is a Thai hot sauce with the consistency of American ketchup. But I did not find this dish overly spicy. It has a great flavor.

"The recipe is easily adapted to grilling," says Richard Lobb of the NCC. But truthfully, it's a burger that is just as filled with flavor thanks to your stove top. A grill pan is suggested.

You don't have to have a grill to make an entree that's a crowd-pleaser.

Kathie Smith is The Blade's food editor.

Contact her at:


or 419-724-6155.

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