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.
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