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Kathy Gunst On The Popular And Ever-Versatile Chicken

Chicken has become more widely consumed than beef in the United States. That’s no surprise to Here & Now Resident Chef Kathy Gunst.

As she tells Jeremy Hobson, chicken adapts to many flavors and to “whatever cuisine you love: there’s French coq au vin, there’s Italian chicken marsala, there’s chicken piccata, there’s chicken curries, chicken pad thai, we could go on and on.”

Gunst shares her recipes for chicken piccata, three-cup chicken, and roast chicken with lemon and roasted garlic-herb butter.

See more recipes and cooking segments with Kathy Gunst

Chicken Piccata

Kathy’s Note: This lemony chicken dish can be made ahead of time and heated up at the last minute. Look for organic lemons. Serve with orzo, rice or pasta.

Serves 4.


1/2 cup flour

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 pound boneless, skin-on chicken thighs, cut into thin pieces

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon canola oil or butter

1/3 cup dry white wine

1/3 cup chicken broth

1 organic lemon, washed and dried and cut into paper thin slices with the seeds removed

About 1/4 cup capers, drained

1 tablespoon butter

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley


Place the flour on a plate and season liberally with salt and pepper. Dredge the chicken pieces in the seasoned flour.

In a large skillet heat the olive oil and canola oil (or butter) over moderately high heat. Sauté the chicken pieces (working a few at a time and not crowding the skillet) for about 3 to 4 minutes per side. Remove to paper towels to drain excess fat. Place the chicken in a shallow roasting pan or casserole, or ovenproof skillet.

When all the chicken is browned and in the roasting pan, raise the heat to high. Add the wine and then the chicken broth and cook, scraping up any bits clinging to the bottom of the skillet, for about 4 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and add the lemons and capers and cook 2 minutes. The sauce should be somewhat thickened. Remove from the heat and add the butter and parsley. When the butter is melted into the sauce pour it over the chicken. The dish can be made up to 24 hours ahead of time up to this point. Cover and refrigerate until ready to cook.

Place in a preheated 350 degree oven. Bake for about 10 to 12 minutes, or until the chicken is hot and the sauce is bubbling.

Three-Cup Chicken

Kathy’s Note: While there are dozens of variations on this classic Taiwanese dish, the “three-cup” in the title refers to the fact that this chicken is often made with equal parts soy sauce, Chinese rice vinegar and sesame oil. Here, I use much less sesame oil. Three-Cup Chicken is pure comfort food, with lots of garlic and fresh ginger, scallions and Asian spices. Serve the chicken over white or brown rice.

Serves 4.


1 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns (available in Asian markets)

1 tablespoon canola or vegetable or peanut oil, plus 1 teaspoon

1 chicken, about 4 pounds, cut into 10 pieces, breasts cut in half and drumsticks separated from wings

2 whole star anise (available in Asian food markets)

1/4 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup rice vinegar

1/4 cup Chinese rice wine or dry sherry

2 tablespoons sesame oil

2 tablespoons honey or sugar

10 cloves garlic, peeled and left whole, plus 1 tablespoon minced garlic

6 pieces peeled ginger, each about 1/2-inch thick plus 1 tablespoon minced ginger

6 scallions, ends trimmed, cut into 2-inch pieces white and green sections

3/4 cup chicken stock

1/2 cup Thai or regular basil leaves, left whole

Garnish: 3 tablespoons finely chopped scallions and 2 tablespoons chopped basil


Heat a wok or a small heavy-bottomed skillet over high heat. Add the peppercorns and cook, stirring, for 1 minute, or until you can smell them. Remove from the heat and crush in a mortar and pestle or using a rolling pin. Set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in the wok (or a large, heavy skillet, like cast iron) over high heat. Working in small batches, cook the chicken, skin side down, for 4 minutes, undisturbed. Carefully flip the chicken over and cook for 3 minutes on the other side. Remove the chicken and add the next batch.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, mix the star anise, soy sauce, rice vinegar, rice wine, sesame oil, and honey. Set aside.

When you have browned all the chicken, remove all but 1 teaspoon of the fat from the bottom of the wok. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels to remove any excess fat.

Heat the wok or skillet over high heat (with the remaining teaspoon of oil) and add all the chicken pieces. Add the ginger, garlic, and scallions and cook 2 minutes, stirring once or twice so it begins to brown. Add the crushed peppercorns and stir for 5 seconds. Add the soy sauce combination, swirling it into the wok so it coats all the chicken pieces. Add the chicken stock and toss the chicken to make sure it is all coated. Reduce the heat to low, cover the wok or skillet, and cook 8 to 12 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through and the juices run clear yellow (and not pink) when pierced with a small, sharp knife. Add the basil after 6 minutes of cooking, stirring it into the sauce.

Serve hot on top of rice. Sprinkle the chicken with the scallions and basil for garnish.

Roast Chicken with Lemon and Roasted Garlic-Herb Butter

Roast chicken is satisfying any time of year, but there is something particularly wonderful about this dish on a cold winter’s night. What makes this recipe unique is the lemon inside the cavity and roasted garlic-herb butter that is tucked under the skin of the breast meat and then “massaged” on the outside of the bird, creating crisp skin and flavorful, moist meat.

You can surround the bird in the roasting pan with potatoes, parsnips, onions, leeks or any other vegetables.

Serves 4.


For the garlic-herb butter:

5 large garlic cloves, peeled

1 tablespoon olive oil

3 tablespoon butter, at room temperature

Pinch of salt, or to taste

A few grindings black pepper

1 tablespoon fresh chopped sage, or 1 teaspoon dried and crumbled

1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary, or 1 teaspoon dried and crumbled

1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme, or ¼ teaspoon dried crumbled

For the chicken, and vegetables:

One 3 to 4 pound roasting chicken, preferably organic or naturally raised

1 lemon, washed and dried with a small “X” cut in the middle

1/2 pound young parsnips (not enormous or fat, about 4), peeled and cut into pieces about 2 inches long and ½ inch wide

1/2 pound carrots (about 2 to 3 large), peeled and cut into pieces about 2 inches long and 1/2 inch wide

4 medium onions, peeled and cut into quarters

1 1/2 pounds Fingerling or new potatoes (cut in half if large)

1/8 teaspoon sea salt

Generous grinding black pepper

1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons olive oil

1 1/2 cups dry red or white wine


To make the garlic-herb butter, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the garlic in a small roasting pan or ovenproof skillet and pour the tablespoon of oil on top. Roast on the middle rack for 15 minutes, tossing the garlic once or twice. (If the garlic cloves are small they will be tender and ready after about 11 minutes.) Remove from the oven and let the garlic cool about 5 minutes.

In a small bowl, mash the butter with the back of a spoon. Add the salt, pepper, sage, rosemary, and thyme and mix well. Finely chop the roasted garlic (it will become a paste, which is fine) and add it to the butter. Mix in the oil from the roasting pan. (The butter can be made 24 hours ahead of time.)

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Rinse the chicken and cut off any excess fat near the flaps of the cavity. Place the lemon in the cavity. By wiggling your fingers under the skin, gently loosen the breast skin from the breast meat to create a small pocket. Distribute half of the garlic-herb butter under both sides of the breast skin, massaging it into the breast meat. Rub the remaining butter over the outside of the bird, massaging it onto the skin of the breast, wings, and drumsticks. Place the bird in the middle of a large roasting pan. Surround the chicken with the vegetables and potatoes and season with salt and pepper. Drizzle the 1 ½ to 2 tablespoons of oil over the vegetables and potatoes (enough to give them a very light coating) and toss them with a spoon or by shaking the pan to distribute evenly on the vegetables.

Roast the chicken on the middle rack for 25 minutes. Pour half the wine over the bird, and reduce the temperature to 375 degrees. Gently toss the potatoes and vegetables. Roast for another 20 minutes, and pour the remaining wine on top of the bird. Gently toss the vegetables again so they brown and cook evenly. Roast for another 20 to 25 minutes, or until the drumstick feels loose when you gently wiggle it, or the juices run clear and not pink when you pierce the meat under the wing or the thickest part of the thigh. Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes before carving. Remove and discard the lemon and serve the meat with the potatoes and vegetables on the side and spoon any pan juices on top of the chicken.


Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Kathy Gunst calls her three-cup chicken "pure comfort food." (Kathy Gunst)
Kathy Gunst calls her three-cup chicken "pure comfort food." (Kathy Gunst)

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