Recipe 12: Unilever/Simplot’s Chicken Tonight (1990)

I feel like Chicken Tonight! Like Chicken Tonight! Chicken Tonight!

Chicken Tonight was a brand of sauces made by Unilever beginning in 1990 in the United States. It came in flavors like Creamy Chicken and Mushroom, Chicken Cacciatore, Sweet and Sour Chicken, and Country French Chicken. The ads were probably the most memorable part of the entire product line and featured people flapping their arms like chickens as the jingle played.

It has been 30 years and I still remember the commercial. 30 YEARS.

My Mom never used the sauces and I thought my chance to try them had passed since products have been discontinued in the United States.

But guess what…

THEY ARE STILL MADE INTERNATIONALLY! HECK YEAH!

When I realized I could still order Chicken Tonight I hopped on Amazon and paid about $15 to order a bottle (they retailed for $1.79 originally, apparently). I went with Country French Chicken because it was one of the original flavors.

About 3 weeks after I ordered it (I had forgotten about it by the time it arrived) I received a box from the United Kingdom with my Chicken Tonight in it. Yay!

It looks a little different than the original but I don’t care.

This is a really simple recipe.

I never noticed it says “Hob Cooking Method” and had to look that up-it is British for stove top or hot plate! Fancy!

First, fry approximately one pound of chicken (450gms) until golden. Even I can handle that. I used olive oil and fried on the “hob” until it was golden.

Next, dump the entire jar of sauce into the pan, stir, cover, and simmer for about 30 minutes total (the recipe says 15).

And that’s it!

This was the Country French flavor and it had carrots and herbs and tasted like it was cooked in wine (I said it tasted like onion wine but my husband said “that’s just a cream sauce”). It was very easy to make.

I actually found some reviews of this same sauce online from 1991! According to some reviews in the Deseret News, others noticed the strong wine flavor of the sauce:

“This sauce has a strong yet pleasant flavor. I suppose some of that credit goes to the chablis wine. Ragu is definitely not just flour, water and coloring. The generous amount of diced carrots and assorted herbs was another plus. All members of our family thought Chicken Tonight was more than just an ordinary sauce or gravy. I can see us using this again.”

“We tried the Chicken Tonight simmer sauce for country fresh chicken. It was very easy to prepare and smelled delicious while it simmered for 40 minutes, but when it was done all the kids said, `Yuck!'”

Deseret News “Testers Gobble Up Chicken Made With Varied Flavors of Ragu’s Simmer Sauces” Published December 31, 1991. Accessed February 23, 2020.

“Yuck” was my original reaction as well but the flavor grew on me.

Time Travel Experience: “I feel like 90’s tonight!”

Overall Experience: Once I got past the original impression of the sauce I found it delicious. It was very easy to make, and even I could not screw it up. I did feel like a kid again. I vividly remember these commercials and lamented the fact that I never got to actually try the sauces when I was younger. This is one of my favorite cooking experiments so far.

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