Food Daily Dish

Easy dinner recipes: Fried chicken and more ideas in under an hour

It's no wonder chicken is so popular. It cooks pretty quickly. And chicken is versatile -- you can combine it with almost any flavor combination. And depending how you make it, chicken can be both flavorful and diet-friendly. Perhaps best of all? Chicken is easy. Roast a whole chicken, or pick up your favorite pieces to cook on their own. Chicken doesn't have to be complicated.

American fried chicken: Sometimes dinner doesn't get better than a plate of fried chicken. This version comes together quickly, the richly flavored chicken (and crust) offset with a hint of lemon and mustard. And it comes together in about 50 minutes.

Braised chicken with capers: Or try braised chicken with capers. 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.

QUICK & EASY: Terrific recipes in under an hour

In 2009, Food did a story on fresh tofu in Southern California. We included a recipe for fresh, homemade tofu -- very light in flavor, this delicate tofu is almost like a custard with its creamy texture.

The method is simple: Combine some cold soy milk with nigari water (a brine used to set the soy milk) and steam the milk until it sets up like a custard. The whole process takes about 15 minutes.

- See more at: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/dailydish/2012/03/test-kitchen-tips-homemade-tofu.html#sthash.6Tjk9w9Z.dpu

In 2009, Food did a story on fresh tofu in Southern California. We included a recipe for fresh, homemade tofu -- very light in flavor, this delicate tofu is almost like a custard with its creamy texture.

The method is simple: Combine some cold soy milk with nigari water (a brine used to set the soy milk) and steam the milk until it sets up like a custard. The whole process takes about 15 minutes.

- See more at: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/dailydish/2012/03/test-kitchen-tips-homemade-tofu.html#sthash.6Tjk9w9Z.dpuf

In 2009, Food did a story on fresh tofu in Southern California. We included a recipe for fresh, homemade tofu -- very light in flavor, this delicate tofu is almost like a custard with its creamy texture.

The method is simple: Combine some cold soy milk with nigari water (a brine used to set the soy milk) and steam the milk until it sets up like a custard. The whole process takes about 15 minutes.

- See more at: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/dailydish/2012/03/test-kitchen-tips-homemade-tofu.html#sthash.6Tjk9w9Z.dpu

In 2009, Food did a story on fresh tofu in Southern California. We included a recipe for fresh, homemade tofu -- very light in flavor, this delicate tofu is almost like a custard with its creamy texture.

The method is simple: Combine some cold soy milk with nigari water (a brine used to set the soy milk) and steam the milk until it sets up like a custard. The whole process takes about 15 minutes.

- See more at: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/dailydish/2012/03/test-kitchen-tips-homemade-tofu.html#sthash.6Tjk9w9Z.dpuf

In 2009, Food did a story on fresh tofu in Southern California. We included a recipe for fresh, homemade tofu -- very light in flavor, this delicate tofu is almost like a custard with its creamy texture.

The method is simple: Combine some cold soy milk with nigari water (a brine used to set the soy milk) and steam the milk until it sets up like a custard. The whole process takes about 15 minutes.

- See more at: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/dailydish/2012/03/test-kitchen-tips-homemade-tofu.html#sthash.6Tjk9w9Z.dpuBasque-style chicken: For dinner in just over 30 minutes, pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts until thin (this helps the breasts cook evenly -- and quickly). Pan fry the breasts for just a few minutes until done, then, in the same pan you cooked the breasts fix a quick Basque-style sauce. Olives, tomatoes, herbs and rich pancetta come together in a quick and flavorful sauce. Hungry yet?

You can find all three recipes below.

For more ideas, click through our easy dinner recipes 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 noelle.carter@latimes.com.

RECIPES: 99 easy dinner ideas in about an hour or less

AMERICAN FRIED CHICKENTotal time: 50 minutes

Servings:
4Note: Adapted from a recipe by Michael Field in "Michael Field's Cooking School" (1965).

1 (3 1/2 to 4 pound) frying chicken, separated into thighs, drumsticks, wings and breasts

Juice of 1 lemon

2 teaspoons salt, divided

1 cup flour

1/4 teaspoon dry mustard

1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper

1/2 cup vegetable shortening

1/2 cup lard

1. Wash the chicken pieces in cold water, pat dry with paper towels and cut the breasts in half so all of the pieces will be of similar size. Sprinkle the chicken with the lemon juice and one-half teaspoon salt.

2. Mix the flour, dry mustard, white pepper and remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and put the mixture into a paper bag. Drop the chicken pieces in the bag one by one and shake the bag to dust them. As you remove a piece from the bag, shake it thoroughly to get rid of the excess flour and place the piece on a long strip of wax paper near the stove, where it will be easy to reach when you're frying.

3. Add the shortening and lard to a heavy cast iron pot with a lid over medium heat. The fat should be about one-fourth inch deep. While it is heating, heat the oven to 250 degrees and put a large shallow baking dish in it.

4. When the fat is hot but not smoking, add the legs and thighs and cover the pan at once. Turn the heat to low and let the chicken fry, lifting the cover every now and then to check its progress. When the pieces are deep brown on one side, turn them over with tongs and cover the pan again. As each piece of chicken is done (about 14 to 20 minutes, depending on the piece), transfer it to the baking dish in the oven and replace it with an uncooked piece.

Each serving: 720 calories; 59 grams protein; 25 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram fiber; 41 grams fat; 12 grams saturated fat; 229 mg. cholesterol; 1328 mg. sodium.

BRAISED CHICKEN WITH CAPERS

Total time: 55 minutes

Servings: 4

Note: From former test kitchen director Donna Deane

1 pound new potatoes

8 skinless, bone-in chicken thighs (6 to 7 ounces each)

Salt

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 saute, 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.

BASQUE-STYLE CHICKEN

Total time: 35 minutes

Servings: 2

Note: From former test kitchen director Donna Deane. Espelette pepper is available at specialty food stores. You can substitute canned San Marzano tomatoes for fresh tomatoes.

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, about 7 ounces each

1/2 teaspoon salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon butter

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

2 ounces pancetta, cut into 1/4 -inch pieces

2 tablespoons minced shallot

1 clove garlic, crushed

1/2 cup dry white wine such as Pinot Grigio

1/2 cup chicken broth

1/8 teaspoon Espelette pepper

3 sprigs thyme

1/2 cup diced tomato, cut into 3/4 -inch dice

1/4 cup nicoise olives

1. Place each chicken breast between two large pieces of plastic wrap. Using the flat side of a meat mallet or heavy skillet, pound each breast until it is uniformly about one-fourth-inch thick. Season each piece with one-fourth teaspoon salt and a pinch of pepper. Place each breast on top of a large piece of plastic wrap or wax paper.

2. In a large skillet, heat the butter and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium-high heat until hot. Add the chicken, one piece at a time, and saute until golden-brown, about 2 1/2 minutes on the first side and 30 seconds on the other. Remove the chicken to a plate. Set aside in a warm place.

3. Drain the excess fat from the pan and add the remaining tablespoon of oil over medium heat. Add the pancetta and saute until browned, about 2 minutes. Add the shallot and saute for 1 minute, until tender, then add the garlic and saute just until aromatic, a few seconds, being careful not to brown. Add the wine, stirring to scrape up the browned bits at the bottom of the pan.

4. Stir in the chicken broth, the Espelette pepper, thyme and tomatoes. Allow the sauce to come to a

simmer and cook for

5 minutes so that the flavors develop. Stir in the olives.

5. Add the chicken back

to the pan, spooning the sauce over it. Cook for 1 minute, then remove

the chicken to a plate. Spoon the sauce evenly over each piece, and serve immediately.

Each serving: 515 calories; 45 grams protein; 6 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram fiber; 30 grams fat; 8 grams saturated fat; 135 mg. cholesterol; 1,144 mg. sodium.

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