Chicken Dishes With Sweet Touch

<i> Hansen is a Louisville</i> , <i> Ky.-based cooking consultant specializing in microwaving</i>

Chicken is one of the most popular foods for microwaving. It’s naturally tender and microwaves well at high power while staying incredibly juicy. You can cook a single piece of chicken for a snack or lunch in the short time of three to four minutes and it’s great with just a little salt or a sprinkle of herbs. Of course, if you cook a whole chicken, it takes longer--up to 25 minutes or so, depending on oven wattage.

At about 70 calories per ounce, chicken is a great diet food, and with the microwave oven you don’t need to add extra fat to ensure juiciness.

Remove the Skin

Dieters are always warned to remove the skin on chicken because it contains about half the fat. When microwaving, this is especially good advice. The skin on microwaved chicken is pale and moist, rather than crisp, so even non-dieters often prefer to eliminate it before cooking. Another advantage is that you don’t need the skin to protect the delicate meat from harsh hot air as you do in a conventional oven. And without the skin, the meat can absorb much more of the flavorful seasonings added for character.


Chicken pieces come in different shapes and sizes. So that they cook evenly in the microwave, arrange the thickest, most meaty pieces--the breasts and thighs--in the corner where they are exposed to the most energy. Arrange the thick ends of the legs at the edges of the dish, and point the thin end toward the center. If there are livers or other organs, place them in the center, where they won’t cook as fast as the meatier areas.

Accent With Honey

Honey is a nice flavor accent to chicken, and both recipes below use honey for a touch of sweetness. Both dishes are cooked covered, but one uses wax paper and the other plastic wrap. The rule on covering is that it depends on the desired result.

For the chicken cooked with a cracker coating, wax paper is the most desirable covering because it lets some steam escape during cooking, thereby preventing sogginess. With chicken cooked in sauce, the tight coating is desirable so that the steam from the sauce can permeate the chicken and flavor it. Also, the finished dish is meant to be saucy rather than having dry top surface areas.

Chicken With Mustard Coating is a little messy to make because of the coatings over the chicken pieces, but the flavor is different and delicious. You can coat the chicken pieces ahead of time and refrigerate them--you may have to add a couple of minutes to the microwave cooking time. Any type of cracker crumb can be used, but I prefer the round or oval buttery type. This chicken reheats well on high, allowing about one to two minutes per piece.


1/4 cup butter

2 eggs


1/4 cup Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon honey

1 1/2 to 2 cups cracker crumbs (about 50 crackers)


1 (3-pound) chicken, cut into 8 pieces with skin removed

Place butter in small shallow bowl. Microwave on HIGH 30 seconds to 1 minute, just until melted. Beat in eggs, mustard, salt and honey.

In another shallow dish, place crumbs. Coat chicken with crumbs, then dip in egg mixture and coat again with crumbs.

Arrange chicken, with meatiest pieces to outside edges of dish, in 12x8-inch dish. Cover with wax paper. Microwave on HIGH 18 to 22 minutes, rotating dish 1/2 turn after 10 minutes, until no pink remains in meat. Let stand about 5 minutes before serving. Makes about 4 servings.


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Two kinds of chile--fresh chile and chili powder--give this dish a definite flavor without being too strong. If you are an aficionado of chili powder, you may be interested to know that it keeps well on the cupboard shelf only a year. But if you refrigerate it, it will keep at least two years.


1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped onions


1 tablespoon butter

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 cups coarsely chopped tomatoes

1 cup coarsely chopped green peppers


1/4 cup chopped seeded chile (1 medium, about 2 ounces)

2 tablespoons honey

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 (3-pound) chicken, cut into 8 pieces with skin removed


Hot cooked rice, optional

Place onions, butter and salt in 2-quart microwave-safe casserole. Microwave on HIGH 3 to 5 minutes until onion is tender. Add tomatoes, green peppers and chopped chile. Microwave on HIGH 8 to 12 minutes until bubbling and tender. Stir in honey and chili powder.

Arrange skinned chicken in 12x8-inch microwave-safe dish with meatiest pieces to outside edges of dish. Pour salsa over chicken. Cover with plastic wrap, turning back 1 corner to vent. Microwave on HIGH 25 to 30 minutes, rotating dish 1/2 turn after half of time, until no pink remains in chicken. Let stand few minutes before serving. Makes about 4 servings. Serve with rice.