Saturday, July 22, 2017

Pucker up for chicken

Since my little sister has been reminiscing about good old 4-H microwaved lemon chicken (or more accurately, she remembered "gagg[ing] on the first bite and nobody else touched it"), I decided to post about lemon chicken today.

I honestly don't remember 4-H Lemon-Herb Chicken, but that may be because I didn't try it. Here's the original recipe from the Quick Meals project, since my sister so generously donated the project book to me. I don't have its date, but she took it in 1993.

I am not sure exactly what made this gag-worthy, but microwaving chicken as a primary cooking method is not generally a good move. Maybe the broccoli got overcooked too, with the "several extra minutes" to chicken required so it would not be raw?

The idea of lemon with chicken is a pretty popular one, but a lot of the other recipes I found also seem... well... a bit suspect.

I found another microwave version from Multi-Power Microwave Cooking from Sears (copyright 1975; mine is the ninth printing, 1978), but this one focuses on the wings rather than breasts:
Maybe cooking them in butter will help with the rubberiness (or at least make them tasty enough that texture is easier to overlook)? Limiting the lemon juice to a tablespoon might help as well, but nothing will change the fact that this is still microwaved chicken.

Weight Watchers International Cookbook (1977) offers its idea of a Chinese chicken with lemon recipe:

I'm a bit surprised this isn't labeled as Hawaiian since most older recipes with pineapple and green pepper were listed that way. I suspect the lemon might get lost among the soy sauce, garlic, canned pineapple, vinegar, carrot, and green pepper. Whether this makes it an improvement or a step down is your call.

Pillsbury's Barbecue Cookbook (copyright 1976; mine is second printing, 1978) likes the idea of lemon and chicken so much it lists two versions. One is named the more generic "citrus" rather than lemon:

So if you like your lemon chicken to also have orange and honey, this is the one to go with. (Basically, it's the chicken to eat if you want to eat chicken marinated in something you'd drink if you had a cold.) (Well, minus the oil, mustard, and herbs, unless you like really weird beverages when you're sick.)

The other is Lemon Grilled Chicken:

With lemon, tarragon, and paprika, this one seems the most similar to the original recipe, but grilling rather than microwaving is pretty likely to help the flavor substantially.

Finally, if you are really serious about lemon and cooking for a crowd, The Good Housekeeping Cookbook (ed. Dorothy B. Marsh, 1963) offers Lemon-Barbecued Chicken:
The chicken is fried, then baked in three cups of lemon juice. (Of course, it uses six to seven chickens, too.) This recipe better be the best of the lot because if it's not, that's a LOT of gag-worthy chicken to throw away.

Unsurprisingly, these recipes are not enough to make this veg-head long for chicken. I'll leave my sister to hypothesize whether the 4-H recipe is the worst of the lot. (My vote of no-confidence is on the Weight Watchers version.)


  1. HA! "The blandness of the rice." Beautiful.
    BTW, were you a vegetarian as kid as well? Just curious :D

    1. Nope! I gradually became a vegetarian when I married one, but I had been interested in vegetarian food ever since I was a teenager. (And to be honest, I'm not super-strict now. If I'm under the weather, I occasionally eat chicken or turkey soup.)

  2. I honestly don't remember the chicken very well. It was hard and rubbery. The broccoli on the other hand... OMG! Frozen broccoli isn't the best to begin with, and the acid in the lemon juice made it turn a very unappetizing shade of green. (not to mention being overcooked in a microwave) I think the broccoli was actually what I gagged on. I remember still being a little suspicious of the chicken being done even after sawing it apart to check the middle, so I decided to start with the broccoli. Mistake? Maybe. Then again I may have saved myself from literal food poisoning (rather than poisoning by bad food). I think the outdoor cats are the only ones who tried the actual chicken after we threw it out.

    1. At least the outdoor cats would eat it.

    2. Yes, of course they would eat just about anything.