This month we celebrate Smart Chicken! There are several differences you’ll find in Smart Chicken versus the conventional product and this was a product we felt good about promoting. One major difference with Smart Chicken is that it is ‘air chilled!” Many of us have heard of the “air chilled” difference, but what exactly does that mean? Basically, after the chickens are defeathered they need to be cooled down to an internal temperature of below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Conventional chicken farms use water immersion for quick chilling, but in this process chlorinated water is absorbed and the natural juice of the chicken is lost. Also, the risk for cross-contamination is greater since they are immersed with many other chickens. In air chilling they are hung on individual hangers and they do not touch each other. They are put into a cooling chamber to chill and with this they can maintain their natural juice and aren’t absorbing unwanted liquids into the meat. With this there is also reduced risk for contamination which is a big win. This process is more expensive and time consuming but the difference in the product is incredible.
In learning more about Smart Chicken this month it was evident how disconnected we really are from the food we buy inside the store. The majority of consumers have no idea what the animals they consume eat, how they live, or the process it takes to get it to the grocery store bunker. Late last year I had the opportunity to work with my brother processing a few of his backyard chickens. I’ll spare you the pictures, but it really was an eye-opening experience. Just to see the process through from farm to table and how much work it is to just get 2 chicken breasts!
Now to share a few of our favorite recipes using Smart Chicken. Enjoy!
Dill Pickle Chicken
- 2 pounds boneless, skinless Smart Chicken thighs (4 to 6 thighs)
- 2 cups pickle brine (from a 32-ounce jar or larger)
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup diced pickles (about 2 pickles, optional)
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill (optional)
Directions: Place the chicken in a shallow dish or container and pour the brine over the top. If necessary, rearrange the chicken so each piece is completely submerged. Cover and refrigerate for 2 to 8 hours.
Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 425°F. Drain the chicken and pat dry with paper towels. Liberally season the chicken with salt and pepper on both sides. Place the chicken thighs in a single layer in an 8- or 9-inch square baking dish.
Roast until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165°F, about 20 minutes. Cover with aluminum foil, and let the chicken rest for 10 minutes. Garnish with chopped pickles and fresh dill, and serve warm.
Strawberry Basil Chicken
3-4 large Smart Chicken Breasts
3 tbsp olive oil
3 garlic cloves crushed
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 cups chopped fresh strawberries
1 cup chopped fresh basil
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar or balsamic glaze
Directions: Begin by heating a large skillet to medium heat. Add olive oil and garlic, cook for 2 minutes or until fragrant.
Prepare your chicken breasts: you may need to pound the breast to make them a bit thinner, mine were approximately 1 inch. Salt and pepper each side, add to pan. Cook for 3-5 minutes per side (until golden brown, but cooked through). Set aside.
Meanwhile, prepare the topping. Toss together strawberries, basil, balsamic and 1 tbsp olive oil. Top each chicken breast with strawberry mixture, and salt and pepper to taste. Add additional balsamic glaze or balsamic if needed. Serve immediately.
One-Bowl Greek Chicken Salad
4 c. Smart Chicken, cooked and shredded
2 large scallions, diced
2 large cucumbers, peeled and diced
2 Tbsp. Capers
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 c. Plain Greek yogurt
1/2 c. Crumbled feta cheese
1 tsp. Oregano
1/2 c. Chopped fresh parsley
Pita bread, Naan bread, or lettuce for serving
Directions: Mix yogurt, feta, and oregano in a bowl. (Note, for a smooth consistency, blend them together in a food processor.) Add chicken, tomatoes, cucumbers, capers, and scallions to the bowl. Mix well to combine. Serve over bread or lettuce, and enjoy!
To read more about Smart Chicken and get the full story check out this link! http://www.smartchicken.com/our-story/