Tenderloins, nuggets, wings, boneless, pulled, diced, bone-in, fried; the various cuts and preparations of chicken abound. Chicken provides a blank canvas that can be enhanced with seasonings, spices, marinades, breading and rubs. Depending upon its preparation, it can represent cuisines from around the globe. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, chicken is the most common poultry in the world.
To quote The National Chicken Council, “Americans buy more chicken than any other food at the center of the plate. Chicken consumption per capita has increased nearly every year since the mid 1960s, while red meat consumption has steadily declined.”
These days, you are probably looking for new ways to prepare budget-friendly, healthful and quick meals with chicken, whether it be for an entrée, sandwich or salad. And, you want to make sure the results are not boring, bland or overcooked.
Have you ever wondered why chicken tastes better when you order it in a restaurant? Perhaps it is prepared with exotic herbs, spices and an expertly prepared sauce at a fine dining restaurant.
A perfectly cooked, juicy and flavorful chicken can be savored in a more casual eatery. One of my favorite places to order chicken in NYC is PioPio. The Peruvian restaurant known for its 12-hour marinated rotisserie chicken brings the humble dish to another level with just the right spices, not to mention their famous green sauce.
I was looking for “chicken inspiration” and I hit the jackpot with “Winner! Winner! Chicken Dinner” by Stacie Billis (2020, Storey Publishing, $16.95).
Billis stresses the importance of relying on good choices from the start, to make sure the chicken dinner will turn out a winner.
She details how to choose the right cut for the dish, what to look for in buying a tasty, healthy chicken, safe handling, tools to make prep easy, and butchering and carving if you buy a whole bird.
Then, the chapters are broken down by cooking technique; In an Oven (roasting and baking), In a Pan (sautéing, stir-frying and braising), In a Pot, (stewing, frying and under pressure), and On a Grill. The last chapter is devoted to using and creating leftovers.
You can master how to prepare a classic roasted chicken or give it a culinary enhancement by adding a savory compound butter.
Get perfectly crisp tenders without frying or give fajitas with lime crema the sheet-pan treatment for easy preparation and cleanup
. Other tempting recipes using different cooking methods, cuts and sauces to choose from, there’ll always be a delicious chicken dinner on the table. Enjoy these recipes to get started. For the recipe for Chicken Parmesan Meatballs, visit https://bit.ly/3aiuENp.
Sheet Pan Fajitas with Lime Crema
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons ground cumin
3 bell peppers, cut into 1-inch-thick strips (1 red, 1 green, and 1 yellow or orange pepper)
1 large red onion, peeled, trimmed, and cut into 1/2-inch-thick wedges
3 tablespoons neutral oil, such as grapeseed, divided
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 11/2- to 2-inch-thick strips
Warmed tortillas, for serving
Fresh cilantro, for serving (optional)
Hot sauce, for serving (optional)
For the chicken: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In the meantime, combine the chili powder, garlic powder, salt, and cumin in a small bowl; set aside.
Combine the bell peppers, onion, and 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large bowl, along with about half of the spice mixture (about 3 tablespoons, though it’s OK to estimate here). Toss to coat well and transfer the vegetables to a sheet pan.
Add the chicken strips to the same large bowl along with the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and remaining spice mixture. Toss to coat well and transfer the chicken to the sheet pan, arranging everything in a single layer as much as possible.
Place the sheet pan in the oven and cook for about 12 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through and the vegetables just begin to brown in spots. Turn the broiler to low and transfer the pan to the broiler for 5 to 7 minutes, until everything browns in spots.
If you prefer your veggies charred in spots, turn the broiler to high instead and cook for no more than 5 minutes, watching carefully to ensure that nothing burns too quickly and that the chicken doesn’t overcook.
For the lime crema: While the chicken is cooking, mix together the sour cream, lime juice, and salt in a medium serving bowl. Adjust the seasoning to taste; if using fresh lime juice, see the headnote about adding lime zest.
Serve the chicken and veggies with lime crema, warmed tortillas, fresh cilantro, and hot sauce, if desired. Serves 4.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and butter a 2-quart casserole dish; set aside. Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large sauté pan set over medium heat. Add the carrots, celery, leek, thyme, salt and pepper. Sauté until the vegetables are just tender, 8 to 10 minutes.
Add the chicken, along with any accumulated juices or gelatin, and the mushrooms, stirring well to combine, and cook for 2 minutes. Add the wine or stock and cook until all of the runny liquid has evaporated, being mindful not to dry out the chicken. Transfer the chicken and vegetables to a large mixing bowl.
Wipe the pan clean and return it to medium heat. Melt the remaining 1 tablespoon butter. Add 1 cup of the milk and, with a whisk ready in hand, sprinkle the flour over it. Whisk until no lumps remain, then add the remaining 1 cup milk. Cook until the sauce thickens, about 3 minutes, whisking periodically for the first couple of minutes and constantly for the last 30 seconds or so, before removing the pan from the heat.
Add the white sauce and the lemon zest to the mixing bowl with the chicken and vegetables; toss to combine well. Taste, then adjust the zest, salt and pepper as desired. Pour the chicken and vegetable filling into the prepped casserole dish and top with both sheets of puff pastry, overlapping them by an inch and gently pressing to seal them together to prevent leaking. Using a paring knife, cut a few slits into the top of the puff pastry crust and brush with the egg. Place in the oven and bake, uncovered, for 25 to 30 minutes, until the dough puffs and turns golden brown. Allow to cool for 5 to 10 minutes before serving. Serves 4-6.
The headnote says, “Each recipe makes 1 cup. Whisk all of the ingredients together. With all but the Lemony Oregano, you can marinate chicken for anywhere from 2 hours at room temperature up to overnight in the refrigerator. Season the chicken with salt before cooking.”
Marinate the chicken for 20 to 60 minutes at room temperature, erring on the quick side for boneless, skinless cuts.