By Rod Cohenour
Chicken a la Russkie
February – the month for LOVE. And this month is very special to me and my sweet wife, for we recited our vows on Valentine’s Day in 1989 before her father, a lay minister, before traveling to Dallas to re-tie the knot before our pastor, Steve Leatherwood. On that particular Valentine’s Day, snow lay on the ground in Guthrie, Oklahoma, and since my sweet second Mom and Dad were engaged on Valentine’s Day in 1934, it sort of fit to make it a tradition. And this Valentine’s Day, I hope to entice that wife of mine to prepare a dish she introduced me to years ago.
The story goes, this dish grew out of a recipe that was popular way back in the ‘60’s and early ‘70’s – the Russian Glazed Chicken. As usual, my Miss Melinda adapted that recipe to suit her tastes and in so doing managed to come up with a really tasty twist on the original. She has prepared this dish with a few other adaptations through the years and those suggestions are included as well.
As we go toward this day of celebration of LOVE, and détente, it’s important to note that even though many things tend to divide or discourage folks, one of the two things that we all can agree upon and enjoy with one another are music and – of course – FOOD!
|Chicken a la Russkie|
- 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- Ground pepper
- 2 bottles Kraft Russian dressing
- 1 Packet Onion Soup mix
- 1 sweet yellow or white onion, sliced thick
- 1 can sliced water chestnuts, drained and rinsed
- ½ cup water
- 2 Tbsp. corn or vegetable or olive oil
Excellent served with a crisp salad, a nice green vegetable and hot bread.
1. Preheat oven to 350º.
2. In small bowl, add hot water to packet of onion soup mix and whisk together. Let this begin to reconstitute as you prepare the chicken.
3. In a skillet, heat cooking oil to sizzling. Wash and rinse chicken pieces, sprinkle with ground pepper and brown quickly on all sides in hot oil. Remove to plate with paper towels to drain off excess oil.
4. Place chicken breasts in deep ovenproof casserole dish or stainless steel pot.
5. Cover each chicken breast with thick slices of onion.
6. Top the onion with drained and rinsed water chestnuts.
7. In bowl with soup mix, add bottles of Russian dressing. Rinse each bottle with a small amount of water and add that as well.
8. Top chicken breasts with the soup and dressing mixture.
9. Bake, covered, for about 1-1/2 hours. At one hour mark, check to make sure chicken breasts are fully cooked (this may vary depending upon the thickness of the pieces). Increase cooking time by 15 minutes. Don’t let the dish get too dry.
10. Plate chicken pieces over rice or noodles.
11. Stir the onions, water chestnuts and pan juices to even out the mixture, then top chicken with the delicious sauce.
For the classic Russian Chicken: Only 1 bottle Russian dressing, 1 jar apricot jam, 1 package Onion soup mix and ½ cup water. Stir together, then pour over chicken pieces and bake – 350 for 1.5 to 2 hours. (Original recipe did not call for the chicken to be browned first.)
For Hawaiian Russian Chicken: Add pineapple chunks or rings to the recipe. If you wish, you can also add red, yellow and/or green Bell Pepper pieces. Make sure the peppers are submerged in the sauce to ensure they cook tender. Use the 2 bottles dressing and extra water to ensure you have plenty of sauce for your presentation.
For Holiday Russian Cranberry Chicken: Mix the Russian Dressing with cranberry sauce, toss in reconstituted dried craisins (dried cranberries). To this, if you wish to make it very festive, toss in pecan pieces.