As you might’ve sensed from our last food-focused story, we like to chow down here in the custom publications department — and we’re real serious (and, yes, slightly picky) about our selected eats.
But when it comes to chicken, it’s a free for all, Bubba Gump-style. We like it fried, baked, thinly sliced and chock full of flavor, so join us as we celebrate National Chicken Month with our favorite chicken dishes in the Fresno-Clovis area.
No dark meat, please
I’m always happy when I can request all-white meat for chicken dishes at restaurants, so seeing the menu choice at Kikku Japanese Food in downtown Fresno made my day.
I ordered the teriyaki chicken plate, which comes with white rice and a side salad with a tangy house vinaigrette. Sesame seeds are sprinkled on top.
I fluctuate between the chicken plate and the grilled chicken salad, which is teriyaki chicken over a bed of romaine lettuce, served with the house vinaigrette.
The tender slices of grilled all-white chicken are marinated in Kikku’s house-made teriyaki sauce. I also love Kikku’s cucumber salad.
The cucumber salad adds bit of zip to both dishes. I usually order two (they’re small) and dump them both on top of the chicken.
The teriyaki chicken plate costs $7.15, plus 75 cents for all-white meat. The grilled chicken salad costs $7.65, plus 75 cents for all-white meat.
GO: Kikku Japanese Food, 2336 Tulare St., Fresno.
Details: (559) 233-8890, www.kikkujapanesefood.com.
— Monica Stevens
Hold the gluten
My first meal upon moving back to Fresno in 2013 was at The Broilers on Palm and Herndon avenues. Thirteen years away from my hometown had given me a true appreciation for some things that just couldn’t be had in Chicago and the Bay Area.
In Chicago and its suburbs you can find deep dish pizza and Chicago-style hot dogs. You can even get surprisingly good Mexican food, if you know where to look. But for some reason, Mediterranean food (particularly in the ‘burbs) is a little harder to come by.
That’s what led me to scour the internet for a recipe — any recipe, I knew I would never find a true copycat — that would approximate the taste and texture of the The Broilers’ chicken shawarma.
I like to think that my version of chicken shawarma is pretty solid, but making it is fairly labor intensive and carries with it the risk of slicing off a finger. (I’m a journalist, my knife skills need work.)
Now that I live a mere five minutes away from the real thing, making an inferior version at home seems kind of pointless.
What sets The Broilers’ chicken apart from any other chicken you might find at similar restaurants? The meat is packed with flavor, which plays a huge role, but for me it’s the way it’s cooked on the vertical broiler and then thinly shaved. I will always pick sliced or shredded chicken over kabob-style chunks, which is why The Broilers tops my list.
Of course, the chicken is only part of the story. The meat may be the star of the show, but it’s supported by some very fine players whether you order a salad, sandwich or plate.
Until I was diagnosed with celiac disease, I was a big fan of the chicken lavash sandwich.
These days I order the chicken shawarma plate, which comes with hummus and rice pilaf (or, if you’re me, hummus and salad), bright pink pickled turnips and a side of garlic sauce. They also throw in a couple of slices of warm pita bread (which I avoid for obvious reasons).
With four locations in Fresno and Clovis, you may have to drive across town to get your Broilers fix, but it’s a lot faster than flying across the country.
— Katie Fries
The “I hope it’s healthy” salad
Like Katie, I head to The Broilers when I’m craving chicken. But instead of chicken chillin’ between two sclices of bread or lonely on a plate next to hummus, I order the chicken salad.
It comes with flavor-packed sliced chicken on a bed of romaine lettuce, feta cheese, tomatoes and red onions. I skip red onion and garlic sauce, but add a side of ranch dressing. The chicken is tender and juicy, which keeps me returning to The Broilers on a regular basis.
— Janessa Tyler
Traditional with a twist
CASA de TAMALES is my jam. See, I’ve always been a fan of tamales, helping to make Christmas one of my all-time favorite holidays because of the standard meal of tamales, rice and beans. And typically what makes it so delicious is understanding the hard work that went into putting those little, masa and meat-filled packages together.
Well, CASA de TAMALES turned that idea on its head. At this place, you can enjoy the fruits of other peoples’ labor — and it’s just as awesome.
Owner Liz Sanchez has struck the perfect balance between authentic and gourmet, concocting a series of interesting (and tasty) tamales that will have you saying classic pork, who?
There are a few go-to tamales that I have on rotation. One of those lucky few: the creamy chicken poblano.
Its special jalapeño masa is stuffed with chicken (duh), poblanos, potatoes, casero cheese and is topped with a creamy tomatillo sauce. You can order tamales a la carte at $3 each, or make it a combo of one or two tamales with rice and beans for $6.50 and $8.75, respectively.
CASA de TAMALES prides itself on providing customers with a clean, homemade taste, utilizing its production facility to regularly produce a fresh and consistent product. And for people who are like our token gluten-intolerant colleague, Katie — all of the tamales are gluten-free. Tamales for all!
— Dani Villalobos
The California Farm Bureau recently released this statistic: $561,146,000 was spent on poultry in 2015. That’s a lot of chicken. In fact, chicken was No. 3 on the list of crops last year and I’m pretty sure a least a few hundred dollars of that total was spent from me making this recipe. It’s my go-to recipe for chicken. Or for when I have friends over. Or for when I want comfort food. Or for when I just want a recipe that is good every single time it’s made.
I wish I could take credit for it, but it is a recipe I got from Marcella Stone of Kingsburg, and was published in the first Central Valley Flavors recipe collection. This year’s reader-submitted recipes will publish in December’s Central Valley magazine.
6 tablespoons butter
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 to 3/4 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons brown and spicy mustard
3/4 cups Italian breadcrumbs
1 cup Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 pounds chicken breasts
Blend buttermilk and mustard and pour over chicken breasts to coat. Refrigerate for at least an hour or overnight for best results. Heat oven to 450 degrees. Melt butter and combine with red pepper flakes. Brush about 2 tablespoons of the mixture on a glass or ceramic baking dish.
Set aside remaining butter-pepper mixture. In a shallow bowl, combine breadcrumbs and cheese. Remove the chicken breasts from the buttermilk mixture and dredge them in the breadcrumb and cheese mixture, making sure all pieces are well coated. Place the pieces in the prepared dish.
Drizzle reserved butter mixture over the coated chicken breasts. Bake 30-40 minutes or until the chicken pieces are lightly browned, cooked thoroughly and juices run clear.
If you would like smaller pieces, cut the chicken breasts into strips or smaller pieces before soaking in buttermilk. Smaller pieces may take fewer minutes to cook.
— Carey Norton