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Recipe Rescue: April 2012

I am often asked to reveal the absolute must haves in my kitchen

January 6, 2012 
By Patrick Mathieu

I am often asked to reveal the absolute must haves in my kitchen, including the tools and products that I couldn’t imagine cooking without. As I am not a big fan of kitchen gadgets, my response is always the same: a really good knife and a lot of creativity!

I often look for ingredients to inspire me, rather than the newest and latest fads. There are a handful of ingredients that trigger your creative juices and are a blank canvas waiting to be made into something tastefully unique!

One of my favourite ingredients that falls into this category is chicken. Although chicken starts out as a bland, almost flavourless, piece of protein, it is capable of taking on the many flavours of several different cuisines. By varying cooking techniques and using a worldwide variety of ingredients and flavours, thousands of dishes can be creatively made using a simple piece of chicken.

It is no coincidence that chicken is a dietary staple in most cultures. It is a very healthy, lean source of protein, and due to its cellular makeup, it easily absorbs different flavours. Most people enjoy chicken, so if your crew is feeling like Italian, or perhaps Thai, classic American, or Mexican, chicken is a great starting point at the grocery store.


Once you determine where in the world you want to go with your chicken, the possibilities are endless. More decisions will quickly enter your creative thought process, such as, “Should I grill it, roast it or braise it? Beer can in the butt? Fry it? Should I use the breast, thighs, drumsticks, wings or whole bird? Do I want to make a soup, sandwich, salad, casserole, pizza, or pasta? Should I serve it over rice, potatoes or maybe noodles?”

So, as you can see, with a versatile ingredient such as chicken, the options are endless – it’s an opportunity to step out of your comfort zone and explore ingredients and a different cuisine of the world, different parts of the bird, and a variety of cooking techniques and styles.

I’ve included four chicken recipes, each using a different cooking technique, a different type of cuisine and a different part of the bird.

I hope these recipes start a creative recipe repertoire, and the ability to take one ingredient and turn it into a worldwide culinary adventure. Enjoy!



Oven-fried chicken


  • 1 1/3 cups crispy corn cereal
  • 2 1/4 cups broken Ritz crackers
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp sweet paprika
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 4 bone-in, skinless chicken pieces
  • 1 tsp liquid smoke


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 F. Set a rack on a foil-lined baking sheet. Spray the rack generously with cooking spray.
  2. Finely grind the cereal and crackers together in a food processor. Transfer crumbs to a large gallon-sized plastic bag. Add the oil, salt, cayenne, paprika and ground pepper, and toss to mix thoroughly.
  3. Whisk the light mayonnaise and Dijon mustard together in a medium-sized shallow bowl. Add chicken to mayonnaise and turn to coat all the pieces evenly.
  4. Drop the chicken into the plastic bag, seal and shake until each piece is evenly coated. Place coated pieces on the prepared rack.
  5. Spray the chicken pieces evenly with cooking spray, and bake until the coating crisps and browns and an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the chicken registers 160 F, about 35 to 40 minutes.


Italian braised chicken


  • 12 skinless chicken thighs, with bones
  • 1/2 tsp salt, plus 1 tsp
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper, plus 1 tsp
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, sliced
  • 3 oz prosciutto, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 (15-oz) can diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tsp fresh oregano leaves
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 2 tbsp capers
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves


  1. Season the chicken with 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper.
  2. In a heavy, large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. When the oil is hot, cook the chicken until browned on both sides. Remove from the pan and set aside.
  3. Keeping the same pan over medium heat, add the peppers and prosciutto and cook until the peppers have browned and the prosciutto is crisp, about five minutes. Add the garlic and cook for one minute. Add the tomatoes, wine and herbs.
  4. Using a wooden spoon, scrape the browned bits off the bottom of the pan. Return the chicken to the pan, add the stock, and bring the mixture to a boil.
  5. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until the chicken is cooked through, about 20 to 30 minutes. Stir in the capers and the parsley and serve. Enjoy!

Patrick Mathieu is an 11-year veteran of Waterloo Fire Rescue. He has won several cooking competitions and has helped raise thousands of dollars for charities by auctioning gourmet dinners at the fire hall. Contact him at

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