Don't be chicken: Try these prize-winning recipes

Jennifer Mastroianni

Of all the recipe contests held across America, the one I look forward to most is the National Chicken Cooking Contest. Some of my all-time favorite recipes are grand-prize winners of this venerable competition, which is one of the oldest cookoffs in the country.

The final results are in for the 48th contest, and it looks like another show-stopping recipe for my collection — and yours.

Brigitte Nguyen of Lexington, Ky., won top honors and $50,000 with her Chinese Chicken Burgers with Rainbow Sesame Slaw. Nguyen, 28, a part-time bookkeeper and baker in Lexington, bested a field of nine finalists from across the country in the cookoff held on May 2 in San Antonio. In all, she beat out 50 semi-finalists representing each state and the District of Columbia, along with hundreds of initial contest entries.

Ground chicken is the base for her recipe, with a meat mixture that includes soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, garlic, lemongrass, and scallions. The burger is served on a toasted bun topped with lime-accented mayonnaise and chile sauce along with a slaw of julienned peppers, snow peas and jicama.

A Judge’s Choice award and $10,000 went to Elise Lalor, a travel agent from Issaquah, Wash., for “Butterflied Chicken with Herbs and Sticky Lemon.”

The National Chicken Cooking Contest began in 1949. In recent years, it has been held biennially. Information and other winning recipes are available at www.chickencookingcontest.com.

CHINESE CHICKEN BURGERS WITH RAINBOW SESAME SLAW    

2 pounds ground chicken

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon sesame oil

6 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon minced lemongrass

1/3 cup sliced scallions

6 hamburger buns with sesame seeds

6 tablespoons butter, softened

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

6 tablespoons hoisin sauce

sliced scallions

Sriracha Lime Mayo: recipe follows

Rainbow Sesame Slaw: recipe follows

In large bowl, mix together ground chicken, soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, garlic, lemongrass and scallions. Divide mixture into 6 patties and set aside. Place grill pan over medium heat. Spread softened butter on hamburger buns and place on grill pan until light brown. Wipe grill pan with paper towel and brush with vegetable oil. Place chicken patties on grill pan and cook over medium high heat, turning once, until internal temperature reaches 165° F, about 7 minutes per side.

During last few minutes of cooking, baste each burger with 1 tablespoon of the hoisin sauce. To assemble, place 1 tablespoon Sriracha Lime Mayo on each bottom and top bun. Place chicken on bun bottoms and top each with 1/3 cup Rainbow Sesame Slaw. Serve with any remaining slaw and mayo on the side. Garnish with scallions. Makes 6 servings.

Sriracha Lime Mayo: In small bowl, mix together 3/4 cup mayonnaise; zest and juice of 1 lime; and 2 tablespoons Sriracha Chile Sauce. Set aside.

Rainbow Sesame Slaw: In medium size bowl, mix together 2/3 cup julienne peppers (red, orange, yellow or any combination); 2/3 cup julienned snow peas, strings removed; 2/3 cup julienned jicama; 1 1/2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar; 1 tablespoon sugar; 1 tablespoon soy sauce; 1 teaspoon Sriracha Chile Sauce; 1 teaspoon sesame oil; and 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds.

— Brigitte Nguyen, Lexington, Ky., 2009 National Chicken Contest Grand Prize Winner.

BUTTERFLIED CHICKEN WITH HERBS AND STICKY LEMON   

1 whole chicken, back bone and breast bone removed and flattened

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

5 sprigs rosemary

10 long sprigs thyme

10 cloves garlic

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 cup sherry vinegar

1 lemon, thinly sliced

1/4 cup honey

2 tablespoons adobo sauce from canned chipotle peppers

2 tablespoons toasted sliced almonds

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. On cookie sheet, place rosemary sprigs, thyme sprigs and garlic. Arrange flattened chicken on top and sprinkle with olive oil. Place chicken in 400-degree oven for 20 minutes. Pour sherry vinegar over chicken and cook additional 15 minutes. Place lemon slices over chicken.

In small bowl, mix together honey and chipotle sauce; brush over lemon slices. Bake chicken additional 10-15 minutes, brushing with honey sauce (use foil to cover chicken if it starts to burn). Test for doneness by inserting an instant read thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh. It should register 180° F.

Remove chicken to platter and sprinkle with almonds and parsley. Makes 4 servings.

— Elise Lalor, Issaquah, Wash., 2009 National Chicken Contest Judges’ Choice winner.