Chicken seems to be the go-to food when you don’t know what else to make. You can roast it whole, broil it, boil it and even bake it with the skin on or off. But now, let's get really "chicken creative."
Most everyone likes chicken. It’s economical, readily available and, let’s face it, chicken seems to be the go-to food when you don’t know what else to make. You can roast it whole, broil it, boil it and even bake it with the skin on or off.
Taking the skin off and getting rid of the bones does tend to make the bird more versatile. The skin and the fat attached to it are where most of the calories seem to be hiding so I tend to suggest going right to the boneless, skinless breasts or thighs when I’m asked for advice.
“Chicken creative” is easy when you have the main ingredient already prepped. And since the boneless and skinless breasts and thighs seem to go on sale every few weeks, why not stock up when they’re cheap and freeze them in packs of four breasts or eight thighs until you need them.
The following recipes run the gamut from super easy to “what the heck is Herb de Provence.” Whichever you decide to try, I can promise they won’t resemble any chicken dish you’ve ever had before.
Spiced Pecan Chicken
1 cup pecan halves
1⁄2 cup toasted bread crumbs
1 and 1⁄2 tsp. grated orange zest
1⁄2 tsp. salt
1⁄4 tsp. ground chipotle pepper
1 egg, beaten
1 Tbsp. orange juice
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, flattened
4 Tbsps. oil
In a bowl of a food processor, combine the pecans, bread crumbs, orange zest, salt and ground chipotle in a food processor and process until the mixture is completely combined. Place the mixture on a plate.
In a bowl, combine the egg and orange juice and whisk to combine. Dip each chicken breast into the egg mixture, then dredge both sides in the pecan mixture.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a skillet and cook 2 of the coated chicken breasts for about 3 to 4 minutes on each side.
When done, place them on a serving plate, cover and repeat the process with the remaining oil and chicken. Serve immediately.
Spiced Apple Chicken
2 apples, McIntosh, Granny Smith or Braeburn, peeled and thinly sliced
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1⁄4 tsp. cinnamon
3 tsps. olive oil, divided
3 tsps. margarine, divided
11⁄8 tsps. herbs de Provence, divided (*see note below)
1⁄2 tsp. salt
1⁄4 tsp. black pepper
1 and 1⁄2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed and pounded to 1⁄2-inch thick
1 cup chicken broth
1 tsp. lemon zest
In a bowl, combine the apple slices with the lemon juice and cinnamon. Toss to coat and set aside.
Heat 1 teaspoon oil and 1 teaspoon margarine in a skillet. Add the apple mixture and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 5 minutes.
Remove the apple mixture from the pan (don’t clean the pan, you’ll need it shortly) and set the apple mixture aside.
In a bowl, combine 1 teaspoon herbs de Provence, salt and pepper. Sprinkle the mixture on both sides of the chicken. Heat 1 teaspoon oil and 1 teaspoon margarine in the skillet.
Add half the chicken and cook until no longer pink in the center, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Remove to a platter and keep warm.
Add the remaining 1 teaspoon oil and 1 teaspoon margarine to the pan; heat over high heat. Cook the remaining chicken in the same manner.
When done, place it on the platter with the other cooked chicken. Don’t clean the pan.
Add the broth, lemon zest and the remaining 1⁄8 teaspoon herbs to the pan. Cook, stirring until slightly reduced, about 3 minutes.
Spoon the sauce over the chicken and serve with the sauteed apples.
*Herbs de Provence is usually available at most grocery stores but to make your own, mix together 1 tablespoon each (or equal proportions) dried thyme, rosemary, oregano and marjoram. You can store it in a glass jar or a container with a lid.
Sesame and Broccoli Chicken
1 lb. skinless, boneless chicken thighs cut into 1-inch pieces
salt and freshly ground pepper
flour, for dusting
1⁄4 cup oil
1⁄4 cup sesame seeds
2 Tbsps. minced fresh ginger
1 large garlic clove, minced
1⁄4 tsp. crushed red pepper
1 and 1⁄2 cups chicken broth
1 lb. broccoli stems peeled and cut into 1⁄4-inch thick round tops cut into florets
3 Tbsps. soy sauce
1⁄2 tsp. sesame oil
steamed rice, for serving
Preheat the oven to 350˚.
In a large bowl, season the chicken with salt and pepper, and toss with flour to coat thoroughly. Let the chicken stand for a few minutes, until the coating gets soggy.
Pour 3 tablespoons of the oil over the chicken and toss to coat, then coat the chicken with the sesame seeds. In a large nonstick skillet, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil.
Add the chicken in an even layer and cook (don’t move it), until browned on the bottom, about 3 minutes. Turn the chicken and cook until browned on the second side, about 2 minutes.
With tongs, transfer the chicken to a rimmed baking sheet and put it in the oven while you finish the dish.
In the oil remaining in the skillet, cook the ginger, garlic and crushed red pepper over moderately high heat until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
Add the chicken broth and boil over high heat until reduced by half, about 4 minutes. Add the broccoli, cover and cook until bright green and crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Stir in the soy sauce, season with salt and remove from the heat.
Gently stir in the chicken and sesame oil and serve with steamed rice.
Crock Pot Chicken Stew
2 Tbsps. oil
4 chicken thighs,
4 chicken drumsticks
3⁄4 tsp. salt
1⁄4 tsp. black pepper
1 Tbsp. flour
1 cup apple cider
1 and 1⁄2 cups chicken broth
1 onion, cut into thin slices
1 lb. parsnips, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces
3 potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces
1⁄2 tsp. dried thyme
Place the oil in a skillet and heat to high. Season the chicken thighs and drumsticks with 1⁄4 teaspoon of the salt and the pepper.
Sear the outside of the chicken until browned, turning, about 8 minutes in all. Place the chicken in the crock pot.
Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the fat from skillet. Reduce the heat to moderate and stir in the flour.
Whisk in the cider and the broth and bring to a simmer, scraping the bottom of the pot to dislodge any brown bits. Pour the mixture over the chicken in the crock pot.
Add the onion, potato, parsnips, carrots, thyme and the remaining 1⁄2 teaspoon of salt to the crock pot.
Cover and cook on high for about 2 hours, until the chicken is done. (You can also do this in the oven in a covered roasting pan and cook for about 45 minutes to an hour).