When you're looking for easy dinner ideas, chicken is a versatile player. It pairs well with almost any flavoring and can be cooked in so many ways. These great ideas come together in an hour or less:
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 that comes together in only 45 minutes.
Cayenne Cafe chicken with pomegranate-walnut sauce: A great way to showcase fresh pomegranates in season, this simple grilled chicken dish highlights the fruit in a rich garlic-walnut sauce that plays the tartness of the pomegranate against the sweetness of dark brown sugar.
Roast chicken with fried artichokes and lemons: Tender roast chicken is served with crisp fried artichoke and lemon "chips." The whole meal comes together in only an hour. You can find the recipe below.
ROAST CHICKEN WITH FRIED ARTICHOKES AND LEMONS
Total time: 1 hour | Serves 4
Note: From former Test Kitchen Director Donna Deane
1/4 cup olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons butter, plus 1 teaspoon cold butter cut into small pieces, divided
2 cloves garlic, mashed or pressed through a garlic press
4 chicken legs with thighs attached (about 12 ounces each)
3 Meyer lemons, divided
8 baby artichokes
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup flour
1/3 cup chicken broth
3 tablespoons white wine
Chervil leaves for garnish
1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Place 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and 1 tablespoon of the butter with the garlic in a small saucepan. Heat over low heat until the butter is melted. Cook for about a minute more until the garlic is fragrant, then remove from the heat.
2. Wash the chicken under cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Brush the chicken with the garlic mixture. Season each chicken leg with 1/4 teaspoon salt and allow to stand at room temperature while you prepare the lemons and artichokes for frying.
3. Fill a large bowl with cold water and halve one of the lemons, squeezing the juice from one half into the water. Trim the artichokes down to the hearts: Using a sharp knife, cut away the tough outer leaves until you see only light green at the base. Cut away about the top half-inch of the artichoke tip. Trim the end of the stem, then peel the stem and base of the artichoke; there should be no dark green, tough spots left, only pale green and ivory. Place the peeled artichokes into the bowl of lemon water.
4. When all the artichokes are trimmed, slice them lengthwise no thicker than 1/4 inch, using a mandoline or by hand with a sharp knife. As you slice them, return them to the bowl of lemon water.
5. Using a mandoline or sharp knife, slice two of the lemons crosswise into slices no thicker than 1/4 inch. Set aside.
6. Drain the artichokes well and pat them dry. Place the cream and flour into separate medium bowls and one by one dip the artichoke and lemon slices into the cream. Let any excess cream drain off, then dip the slices into the flour to coat, shaking off any excess flour. Set them on a wire rack until you are ready to fry them.
7. Heat a large heavy skillet with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter over medium-high heat until hot. Add the chicken pieces in batches and cook until browned on both sides, about 3 minutes per side. Adjust the heat as necessary. Put the browned chicken in a large shallow baking pan. Wipe out the skillet with a paper towel and set aside for the pan sauce.
8. Roast the chicken until tender and a thermometer inserted into the meatiest part of the thigh (not touching the bone) reaches 165 to 170 degrees, about 30 to 35 minutes.
9. While the chicken is roasting, fill a large, heavy stock pot with enough oil for deep-frying (the oil should come about 3 inches up the sides of the pan). Heat the oil until a thermometer inserted reads 350 degrees. Add the lemon slices in batches to the deep fryer and cook until the slices are golden brown and puffed on both sides, about 1 1/2 minutes total. Fry the artichokes until lightly browned on both sides, about 1 minute total. Drain on paper towels and sprinkle lightly with salt. Set aside in a warm place until ready to serve.
10. Remove the cooked chicken from the oven and drizzle the pieces with the juice from the remaining half of the lemon. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside in a warm place. Pour the chicken broth over the baking pan to loosen the juices and browned bits. Stir in the wine, then pour all the liquid back into the saute pan. Bring the sauce to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 1 to 2 minutes, until slightly reduced. Swirl the remaining teaspoon of butter into the sauce, bit by bit, to thicken. Remove from the heat and strain the sauce through a fine mesh strainer. Set aside in a warm place.
11. To serve, place one chicken leg on each of four plates and spoon some sauce over it. Divide the lemons and artichokes evenly among the servings. Sprinkle each chicken piece with a few chervil leaves and serve immediately.
Each serving: 720 calories; 52 grams protein; 30 grams carbohydrates; 8 grams fiber; 43 grams fat; 15 grams saturated fat; 200 mg. cholesterol; 893 mg. sodium.