You’re so full of turkey today that you feel you were stuffed along with the bird.
Or, you’ve still got a house full of relatives this weekend who will finish off the leftovers of the festive meal long before they are slated to head for home.
Fear not. Bowling Green teenager Seth Peters and his grandmother, Nancy, have a perfect entree which will reawaken any guest’s taste buds.
She likes to call the dish “Layered Chicken Delight.” He prefers “Polynesian Stacked Dinner.”
By any name, it’s a keeper
“I got the recipe from a friend probably 30 years ago. She called it Polynesian Chicken,” said Nancy Peters.
What she most likes about the dish is its extreme versatility.
All the toppings for the stacked chicken — items like pineapple, toasted coconut, rice and tomatoes — are served in separate dishes for those dining to add at their own preference — much like a build-your-own taco bar.
“I had a Mystery Dinner here Saturday night. Guests had to come in costume; very elegant. And I put all these things in nice silver serving dishes and they had a good time,” said Nancy.
Conversely, “I have used it for after a football game. The chicken can be in the crockpot while you’re at the game. Then just put it on the counter” along with all the toppings in whatever serving bowls are handy and let the hungry hordes move down the line.
“I’ve done this recipe at least three or four years now,” said Seth, 17, the oldest of five sons of Ben and Amy Peters. He admitted the portions consumed are considerably larger at his home than at his grandmother’s.
Seth, a junior at Penta Career Center, and his grandmother have developed a tradition of cooking together and he is her main assistant for Thanksgiving dinner.
“I am having 38 for the noon meal,” Nancy noted earlier.
“He comes the day before Thanksgiving and helps me with table setting up. He lifts the turkeys and helps me get ’em cleaned and in and out of the oven. I just can’t do it anymore, especially since we brine the turkey” and the brining liquid adds even more weight.
“He’ll stir the gravy; just whatever is needed. He just likes it.”
“I’m going there after dinner” Seth said Wednesday, in order to offer assistance. “I just helped her make pies — pumpkin and apple pies, mostly.”
Their kitchen partnership dates back to a few years ago.
“His parents were going on vacation and he had something he didn’t want to miss, so he stayed with me.”
Nancy wanted to offer him something more interesting than hours spent in front of the TV, so she announced: “You’re going to Grandma Nancy’s Cooking School.”
Among other items, the pair made German chocolate cake and Seth learned to separate the eggs.
“She taught me how to make regular pumpkin pie with crust from scratch that first lesson, too,” Seth recalls.
“And we made some casseroles,” Nancy added. “Grandpa Lloyd loved it.”
Last year, the grandmother-grandson duo took Williams & Sonoma cooking classes together.
One class was on brine for turkey “and there was one on side dishes for Thanksgiving,” according to Seth.
It’s even been suggested that maybe Seth should consider a career in cooking. He thought about it as a sophomore, he says, and he very much enjoys his three-day-a-week job at Bob Evans. But his deep involvement in FFA has led to a current interest in landscaping.
Seth served as parliamentarian last year, was awarded the Star Green Hand for most interest displayed in the program, and he just got back from an FFA competition on job-search skills.
But he still enjoys cooking whenever he can, and the Polynesian stacked chicken is a favorite.
“I just like it ’cause there are so many different layers to it, it’s so unique, and you can customize it,” said Seth. “I gotta have chow mein, chicken, pineapple, no tomato, and yes — coconut. I add cheese, too,” even though the recipe as handed down didn’t include it.
“Even vegetarians” can enjoy the dish just by leaving out the chicken, he pointed out. “And it’s very healthy, too.”
His grandmother is not surprised by his enthusiasm. “Men usually really like this ’cause they can really heap the ingredients on,” she said.
LAYERED CHICKEN DELIGHT
To make shredded chicken: Cook chicken breasts until done. I buy bone-in, skin-on, chicken breasts as I feel they have more flavor and they are cheaper. Cook until done and shred. I add chicken soup base to season to taste. If you have a pressure cooker, the chicken shreds quicker when cooked in a pressure cooker. I like to cook it in a slow cooker, also. I often cook up lots of chicken breasts and use some for this recipe and then use others for chicken casseroles, noodle soup, etc.
An easier, quicker method is to buy canned chicken, and cook in slow cooker. Pour off some of the broth and then add it later if you need to moisten it.
If you have too much liquid, regardless of the method you use to cook the chicken, you can add a little cornstarch by pulling chicken to one side of pan and adding the cornstarch to the broth at the other side of the pan.
Scatter coconut on a cookie sheet, place it in the oven and toast under the broiler.
Just serve the chinese noodles, cooked rice, chicken, chopped onions, chopped celery, tomatoes, crushed pineapple, toasted coconut, and chopped almonds in bowls, one at a time, in the order listed and have each diner fill their plate by layering the items. No specific amounts are listed for these toppings; they are determined solely by the number of people dining and their individual preferences.
This recipe also lends itself to a buffet with diners filling their plates as they would make an ice cream sundae at a sundae bar.
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