Why is chicken so popular? Well, it cooks pretty quickly. And depending on the what you buy, it can be both flavorful and diet-friendly. It's versatile -- you can combine it with almost any flavor combination. Perhaps best of all? It's easy. Roast a whole chicken, or pick up your favorite pieces to cook on their own. Chicken doesn't have to be complicated.
Take braised chicken with capers (pictured). It's dinner in a skillet: Pan-braised chicken and new potatoes, flavored with tart capers and shallot and brightened with hints of sherry vinegar and lemon. And the whole meal comes together in less than an hour.
Or how about chicken adobo? In this Filipino take from chef Andre Guerrero, chicken pieces are simmered in a fragrant blend of soy sauce, garlic, cider vinegar, black pepper and bay leaves. When the chicken is tender, the sauce is reduced, then tossed again with the chicken before serving. It's a wonderfully rich yet simple dish, perfect served alongside a simple salad or side -- Guerrero recommends jasmine rice -- and it comes together in only an hour.
Feel like tackling a Thomas Keller recipe? In this recipe adapted from Keller's "Ad Hoc at Home," crisp, braised chicken thighs are at once rich yet bright with a great harmony of flavors, including olives, lemon zest and thinly sliced fennel. The whole dish comes together in just over an hour.
For more easy dinner recipes, click through our photo gallery and check out our Dinner Tonight page, devoted to recipes that can be made in an hour or less. Looking for a particular type of recipe? Comment below, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
BRAISED CHICKEN WITH CAPERS
Total time: 55 minutes
1 pound new potatoes
8 skinless, bone-in chicken thighs (6 to 7 ounces each)
Freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 shallot, finely chopped
1/4 cup salt-packed capers, rinsed and coarsely chopped
3/4 cup chicken broth
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons chives, cut into 1-inch pieces
1. Clean and quarter the potatoes. Place them in a bowl of cold water and set aside.
2. Wash the chicken under cold running water and pat dry with paper towels. Remove excess fat and season each piece with a pinch each of salt and pepper.
3. Heat the oil in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Quickly sear the chicken thighs until browned on both sides, 2 to 3 minutes per side; taking care as the chicken will splatter and adjusting the heat as necessary. Remove the browned chicken to a plate.
4. Drain the potatoes and pat dry with paper towels. Add them to the hot skillet, cut side down, and cook until lightly browned, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove them to a plate and cover to keep warm.
5. Add the shallot and capers to the skillet and quickly sauté, about 1 minute. Stir in the chicken broth, vinegar and lemon juice, scraping up any browned bits in the bottom of the pan.
6. Add the chicken back to the pan, and bring to a gentle simmer. Cover with a tight-fitting lid. Cook the chicken until tender and a thermometer inserted into the meat reads 165 degrees, about 25 to 30 minutes. Add the browned potatoes to the pan during the last 15 minutes of cooking.
7. Arrange the chicken and potatoes on a platter. Taste the sauce to check the seasoning, then bring to a simmer and cook for an additional minute. Spoon the sauce over the chicken, and sprinkle with the chives. Serve immediately.
Each serving: 387 calories; 28 grams protein; 21 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams fiber; 21 grams fat; 4 grams saturated fat; 93 mg. cholesterol; 860 mg. sodium.
Total time: 1 hour
Note: Adapted from Andre Guerrero of Marché, Boho and the Oinkster. Guerrero serves this with steamed jasmine rice.
1 (3 1/2 pound) whole chicken
12 whole cloves garlic
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon coarsely ground black pepper
4 dried bay leaves
1. Cut the chicken into 10 pieces: breasts, wings, thighs and legs, cutting the breast pieces in half. Place the chicken pieces into a large lidded Dutch oven or casserole. Add the garlic, vinegar, soy sauce, pepper and bay leaves.
2. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce to medium-low, cover and simmer until the chicken is thoroughly cooked (the meat will be firm, the juices will run clear, and a thermometer inserted will read 165 degrees), about 25 minutes. Turn the chicken halfway through for even cooking.
3. Remove the cooked chicken pieces from the sauce and set aside on a plate. Continue to cook the sauce until it's reduced to about 1 cup, about 10 minutes.
4. Strain the sauce, then add the chicken back to the sauce and toss to coat completely, before moving to a serving platter.
Each serving: 478 calories; 52 grams protein; 7 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram fiber; 25 grams fat; 7 grams saturated fat; 193 mg. cholesterol; 1 gram sugar; 1,940 mg. sodium.
CRISPY BRAISED CHICKEN THIGHS WITH OLIVES, LEMON AND FENNEL
Total time: 1 hour, 10 minutes
Note: Adapted from "Ad Hoc at Home" by Thomas Keller with Dave Cruz.
3 large fennel bulbs
12 chicken thighs
1 cup coarsely chopped onion
1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
3/4 cup dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc
1 cup Ascolane or other large green olives, such as Cerignola
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
4 fresh or 2 dried bay leaves
4 strips lemon zest, removed with a vegetable peeler
8 thyme sprigs
1 cup chicken broth
About 1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves
1. Cut off the fennel stalks. Trim the bottom of the bulbs and peel back the layers until you reach the core; reserve the core for another use. Discard any bruised layers, and cut the fennel into 2-by-1/2-inch batons. You need 3 cups of fennel for this recipe; reserve any remaining fennel for another use.
2. Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Set a cooling rack on a baking sheet.
3. Season the chicken thighs on both sides with a pinch of salt. Heat a thin layer of canola oil in a large ovenproof sauté or roasting pan that will hold all the thighs in one layer over medium-high heat. Add the thighs skin side down and lightly brown, 5 to 10 minutes, depending on the heat of the oil in the pan. Turn the thighs over and cook for about 1 minute to sear the meat. Transfer to the cooling rack.
4. Reduce the heat to medium-low, add the onion to the pan, and cook for 1 1/2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Cook, stirring often, until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the fennel, turn the heat up to medium and cook, stirring often, until the fennel is crisp-tender, about 10 minutes.
5. Pour in the wine and simmer for about 2 minutes to burn off the alcohol. Stir in the olives, red pepper flakes, bay leaves, lemon zest and thyme, then pour in the chicken broth. Increase the heat, bring the liquid to a simmer, and cook until the fennel is tender, about 1 minute.
6. Taste the broth and season with salt as needed. Return the chicken to the pan, skin side up, in a single layer. When the liquid returns to a simmer, transfer to the oven and cook for about 20 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through. (The meat will be firm and the juices will run clear, and a thermometer inserted should read 165 degrees.)
7. Turn on the broiler and put the pan under the broiler for a minute or two to crisp and brown the chicken skin. Remove from the oven and transfer to a serving platter. Garnish with the parsley leaves.
Each serving: 450 calories; 33 grams protein; 8 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams fiber; 29 grams fat; 6 grams saturated fat; 115 mg. cholesterol; 2 grams sugar; 645 mg. sodium.