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The Other Dark Meat

August 12, 1993|BEV BENNETT

However versatile, low-fat and convenient boneless chicken breasts are, and no matter what you do to them, there is a sameness in flavor and texture that begs for an occasional break.

A delicious alternative is boneless chicken thigh meat, which is being introduced in supermarkets. The dark chicken meat has a sweet taste and full body. It is every bit as fast-cooking as breast meat and can be used in as many recipes.

Unfortunately it has more cholesterol and fat (much is visible and can easily be trimmed away). Use it as a substitute in indulgent recipes where you want that richness.

In the following entree, which is an adaptation of veal piccata, chicken thighs are sauteed in a little bacon fat, then simmered with capers, white wine and lemon juice. It is absolutely plate-scraping good.

To accompany the chicken, prepare broccoli, another virtuous dish. But do it with flair. Make a sprightly sweet-sour dressing using oil, shallots, a dash of sugar and balsamic vinegar. A handful of walnuts gives it a crunchy finish.

PIQUANT CHICKEN THIGHS 3 strips bacon 1/4 cup flour Salt, pepper 4 boned, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of visible fat 2 tablespoons capers (not well drained) 1 bay leaf 2 tablespoons dry white wine Juice 1/2 lemon Cooked rice or parsleyed noodles

Fry bacon in large skillet until very crisp. Remove to paper towels to drain. Set aside. Reserve 1 tablespoon bacon drippings in skillet.

Combine flour and salt and pepper to taste in paper bag. Place chicken thighs between 2 sheets of wax paper and pound to 1/2-inch thickness. Add chicken to bag and shake to coat with flour. Add chicken to skillet and brown over medium heat on 1 side, 3 to 5 minutes. Turn over chicken pieces and brown second side 2 to 3 minutes.

Stir in capers, bay leaf, wine and lemon juice. Cover skillet and simmer until chicken is done, another 5 to 10 minutes. Remove bay leaf. Crumble in bacon. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

To serve, spoon cooked rice onto 2 plates. Top each with half of chicken and sauce. Serve immediately. Makes 2 servings.

SWEET AND SOUR BROCCOLI 3 cups broccoli florets 1 tablespoon olive oil 1 large shallot, minced 1/2 teaspoon sugar 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar Salt, pepper 2 tablespoons chopped walnuts

Bring 1 cup water to boil in medium pan. Add broccoli and cook, covered, 5 minutes. Drain well and set aside.

Heat olive oil in same pan. Add shallot and saute until tender, about 3 minutes. Stir in sugar and vinegar. Add broccoli and heat through, stirring frequently (mixture will be almost dry, so watch carefully). Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in nuts. Serve warm or at room temperature. Makes 2 servings.

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