Winning Chicken Recipes
Everyone knows about the Pillsbury Bake-Off, but many may not be familiar with another cooking contest that's been going on for almost the same length of time.
The National Chicken Cooking Contest began as a smaller regional competition back in 1949, just one of many events found at a local festival promoting the Delmarva Peninsula. A poultry-cooking contest was logical for this area, which is well known for its poultry farms. The world's largest frying pan, shown in this postcard, is still used at the annual festivals for frying chicken.
By 1952 the contest was drawing entries from all over the United States. In 1971 the National Broiler Council (now the National Chicken Council) assumed sponsorship of the contest and offered a $10,000 prize. (The prize for the upcoming 2009 contest will be $50,000.)
Recipes from the contest have been published since its inception. The contest was held annually from 1949 until 1983, after which they adopted an alternate year schedule. The contests are now held on a rotational basis in various cities throughout the U.S. in states which have large broiler chicken industries.
The first compilation of recipes was a 20-page booklet called Prize Winning Del-Mar-Va-Lous Chicken Recipes 1949 & 1950, which was published by the Delmarva Chicken Festival, Inc.
Today's featured cookbook, The Chicken Cookbook (1998, 128 pages) contains the finalist recipes of the 1999 National Chicken Cooking Contest, which was the 43rd competition and also their 50th anniversary.
Like the other Chicken Cookbooks published in later years, it's in a mass-market paperback format.
This edition contains the 51 recipes from the 1999 contest finalists that represent every state and the District of Columbia. There is also a chapter with recipes from Texas, the host state of the 1999 contest. One chapter is devoted to prize-winning recipes from past contests. Another section is entitled "Chicken Classics Updated for New Millennium" and contains recipes such as Chicken Tetrazinni, South-of-the-Border Chicken Cacciatore, Coq au Vin Blanc and Tropical Chicken Waldorf Salad. Other sections are devoted to recipes that save time, use fewer ingredients and utilize select chicken parts such as the thighs, drumsticks and leg quarters.
Despite the bright cheerful cover, there are only four full-page color illustrations in the cookbook.
The 1976 edition is shown here. It's format and contents are similar to the one above. Finalist names and locations are given in all the cookbooks.
Selected recipes from each contest year can be found on the National Chicken Council's Chicken Cooking Contest website. This is handy for those who don't have any of the cookbooks or who would like to see some of the past winning entries. The 1st Place recipe from 1971 might sound familiar: Dipper's Nuggets Chicken (along with three different sauces to dip them in).
There are instructions for ordering the current cookbook from the 47th contest on the website. Out-of-print Chicken Cookbooks can be found here.