Chicken is one of the most versatile things to cook, lending itself to many diverse ingredients and flavors, different techniques and styles of cooking. Depending on what you pair with it, you can transform poultry into a dinner with Greek influences or Indian flavors — or roast it with potatoes, lemon and herbs. If potatoes seem boring, try roasting your bird with sage, chile, garlic — and green grapes. Here are six great ways to turn chicken into a weeknight dinner.
Old Venice's Greek lemon chicken: It only takes a handful of ingredients to make this tempting dish, roasted chicken and potatoes flavored simply with fresh lemon, oregano and rich olive oil. Serve the chicken and potatoes with a little of the flavored oil spooned over the top.
Chicken and orzo with lemon and olives: This dish is one-pot perfection. Chicken drumsticks cook with a simple medley of orzo pasta, lemon wedges, olives, oregano, garlic and bay leaves in a richly flavored dish you can put on the table in 45 minutes.
Roasted chicken with grape sauce: This recipe turns green grapes into a light but savory sauce, drizzled over freshly roasted chicken. The sauce is bright with the flavor of grapes and a little lemon zest, balanced by sage, chile and garlic.
Massaman curry with chicken: Bright and fresh and mildly spicy, Cholada Thai's homemade Massaman curry paste in this recipe marries perfectly with sweet coconut milk in this rich, slow-simmered chicken stew.
Tuscan chicken stew: Chicken thighs are braised with white beans in a light tomato sauce, and the stew is finished with fresh spinach and lots of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.
Chicken thighs with honey, olives and oregano: Chicken thighs are marinated with a simple medley of flavors: red wine vinegar, olive oil, capers, garlic, oregano and olives. Just before baking, the chicken is topped with a little wine and honey, the flavors slowly harmonizing as the thighs bake to golden brown perfection. Don't be intimidated by the total time on the recipe; while it does require a little advanced preparation and marinating time (this can be done first thing in the morning before you start your day), there is very little active time involved. You can find the recipe below.
CHICKEN THIGHS WITH HONEY, OLIVES AND OREGANO
Total time: About 1 1/2 hours, plus marinating time | Serves 6
Note: Adapted from "The Essential Book of Jewish Festival Cooking" by Phyllis Glazer and Miriyam Glazer. Even though some sources say that the honey of the Bible was made of dates, grapes, figs or carobs, dishes sweetened by honey are a frequent feature of Rosh Hashana fare. This dish may be prepared several hours in advance and reheated in the oven.
12 chicken thighs (or one 4 1/2- to 5-pound chicken, cut up)
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon capers (packed in brine), drained and coarsely chopped
6 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
2 tablespoons dried oregano
2 cups pitted green olives
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup flavorful honey (not clover)
1. Rinse the chicken thighs and place in a bowl. Pour over boiling water to cover and let stand for 2 to 3 minutes. Using a sharp knife, scrape the skin to remove excess surface fat. Dry the pieces and place them in a nonreactive ovenproof casserole.
2. Make a marinade by combining the red wine vinegar, olive oil, capers, garlic, oregano and olives. Taste, and season if desired with salt and pepper. Toss the marinade with the chicken, cover and refrigerate at least 8 hours, preferably overnight, turning occasionally.
3. Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Turn all the chicken thighs skin up, and pour the wine over. Brush the thighs generously with honey, and cover the pan with aluminum foil. Bake for 1 hour, then remove the cover and continue to bake until the tops of thighs are golden brown.
Each serving: 566 calories; 32 grams protein; 29 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram fiber; 34 grams fat; 10 grams saturated fat; 115 mg. cholesterol; 23 grams sugar; 491 mg. sodium.