It began as Decoration Day when women in the South decorated the graves of their American Civil War dead with flowers and flags. Observance of the day was first proclaimed by the nation’s largest veterans organization, and first observed on May 30, 1868. Flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery, and the day was renamed Memorial Day. Laurel Hill Cemetery was the site in 1868 of the first Memorial Day observance in Philadelphia. Regardless of the name, this holiday honors all members of our armed services who died at war.
Besides the many traditional ceremonial services, and the patriotic parades, Memorial Day has become the unofficial “opening day” of summer. Seashore towns become alive, swimming pools around our area open, and picnic season starts. It’s time to eat outdoors.
Of course, hot dogs and burgers are the all-time grilled favorites of American kids (young and old). But maybe you haven’t had quite enough time to get your grill up and running. Fear not. After its winter hiatus in the garage or on the shelf in back of the Christmas decorations, the picnic basket is waiting and ready to be filled with food for foragers throughout the day. It’s a good alternative to grilling.
So, what’s in your picnic basket this Memorial Day? Something simply delicious, portable and seasoned with just the right amount of spices will make your outdoor adventures memorably memorial. Make a big platter of Cinnamon Chicken.
Cinnamon is one of the oldest known spices. In ancient times, cinnamon was believed to cure snakebites, freckles and the common cold, among other ailments. Studies have shown that cinnamon may help type 2 diabetics to control their blood sugar. It may also help lower your triglyceride (bad cholesterol) levels.
Cinnamon usually flavors baked goods such as cakes and cookies, or adds spice to desserts and fruits. Cinnamon can add flavor to hot chocolate and mulled wine. It can be used in rice dishes. Cinnamon toast is a special treat in the morning. Cinnamon sugar can be prepared quickly and easily to sprinkle on buttered toast. Mix one cup of sugar with two tablespoons of cinnamon. This will keep well in a large shaker jar. But cinnamon also adds a special flavor to some meats and seafood, and especially to chicken in the following recipe.
3 Tbsp. canola oil
3 lbs. chicken pieces, skin removed (I used thighs)
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. pepper
1/3 cup flour
½ tsp. paprika
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 egg plus 2 Tbsp. water
1 cup panko bread crumbs
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- Put the salt, pepper, flour, paprika and cinnamon into a plastic bag. Shake to mix and set aside.
- In a small bowl, mix the egg and water. Set aside.
- Spread bread crumbs on a sheet of wax paper. Set aside.
- Shake each chicken piece in the flour mixture bag. Then, dip each chicken piece in the egg mixture.
- Finally, coat each chicken piece in panko bread crumbs.
- Heat 3 Tbsp. oil in a heavy-bottomed, ovenproof skillet. (Black, cast-iron frying pan works well)
- Arrange chicken pieces in a single layer.
- Lay pieces bone-side up in skillet. Brown lightly. (About two minutes.) Turn chicken pieces over and allow to cook an additional minute or two.
- Wrap handle of skillet with aluminum foil and put skillet containing the partially cooked chicken into oven to bake for 30 to 35 minutes.
- Remove skillet and turn oven temperature to 450 degrees.
- Wait a few minutes and then place skillet in oven for 2 or 3 minutes to crisp the coating. Watch it carefully, so chicken doesn’t burn.
This chicken recipe is great served warm, right out of the oven or refrigerated and served cold later.
Have a Happy Memorial Day!
Eat well, live long, enjoy!
(Questions or tips can be sent to Donna Zitter Bordelon at WhatscookinNEPhilly@gmail.com or in care of the Northeast Times, 3412 Progress Drive, Suite C, Bensalem, PA 19020)