Brilliantly simple chicken recipes
Five fantastic ways to make chicken more interesting, without fuss
Baking tray chicken with shallots and grapes. Photograph: Con Poulos/The New York Times.
Continuing our series of recipes for everyday dinners that can be cooked with a minimum of fuss using just one pot, saute pan, casserole or oven tray, here are some suggestions for really tasty chicken dishes.
CHICKEN WITH SHALLOTS AND GRAPES
Serves four to six; cooking time 35 minutes
This Colu Henry recipe is simple enough for a weeknight, but impressive enough to serve at a dinner party. Marinate some chicken thighs in garlic, olive oil and za’atar, if you have any, while your oven gets hot. Then, roast them on a sheet pan alongside thick wedges of shallots and sweet grapes, whose flavours are gently coaxed together and deepened by the chicken fat as they cook. Serve straight from the pan, or move everything over to a platter.
1kg to 1.3kg bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, patted dry
3 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tbsp za’atar (optional)
Salt and black pepper
6 medium to large shallots, peeled and quartered root to stem
225g seedless red or green grapes, or a combination, broken into small clusters on the vine
4 to 5 thyme sprigs, plus 2 tsp finely chopped thyme
Flaky sea salt, for serving
1. Heat an oven to 220 degrees Celsius, or equivalent. In a large bowl, toss together the chicken with 1 tablespoon olive oil, garlic and za’atar, if using. Season well with salt and pepper. Place the shallots and the grapes on the oven tray and gently toss with the remaining olive oil and season well with salt.
2. Nestle the chicken skin-side up in between the shallots and grapes and lay the thyme sprigs on top of the mixture. Roast for 25 to 30 minutes until the chicken is cooked through and the shallots and grapes at the edges of the pan begin to soften and caramelize.
3. Turn the oven to grill and move the oven rack to sit right below it. Remove and discard the thyme sprigs and grill the chicken for one to two minutes until the skin of the chicken is crispy and golden. Scatter with chopped thyme and season with flaky salt.
Tips: za’atar is a Middle Eastern spice blend that’s citrus-woodsy, tart and tannic, with sumac, sesame seeds, salt and herbs. This dish is excellent with a side salad: say, chicory dressed with lemon, olive oil, anchovies and salty pecorino.
BAKED CHICKEN WITH POTATOES, CHERRY TOMATOES AND HERBS
Serves four. Cooking time 75 minutes
For this simple bake, Julia Moskin borrowed a technique from Emanuela, a restaurant on the Italian island of Ischia, where rosemary, fennel and other herbs grow wild in the hills. Because the island was formed by volcanic activity, the sand on some of its beaches is as hot as 180 degrees. When cooking fuel was scarce and expensive, the islanders learned to use the sand as a heat source for cooking. We’re not doing that here, but wrapping the ingredients tightly and subjecting them to steady heat produces a succulent, aromatic dish.
1 chicken, cut up, or 1.4kg-1.8kg bone-in, skin-on chicken thigh
4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbsp rosemary leaves (from about 2 sprigs)
Salt and black pepper
2 small dried red chillies, crumbled, or ½tsp red-pepper flakes
900g to 1.3kg waxy potatoes, quartered
340g cherry tomatoes
1 large yellow onion, quartered and thickly sliced
60ml dry white wine
4 to 6 basil sprigs, plus 2 tbsp finely shredded leaves, for garnish
1. Pull any lumps of fat off the chicken and discard. In a bowl, combine chicken, two tablespoons olive oil, half a tablespoon rosemary, two teaspoons salt, half a teaspoon pepper and the chillies. Mix and set aside, at least 30 minutes at room temperature or up to eight hours in the refrigerator.
2. Heat an oven to 220 degrees Celsius, or equivalent . In a large baking dish or a large ovenproof casserole with a lid, combine the remaining two tablespoons olive oil and half a tablespoon rosemary, potatoes, tomatoes, onion and a generous sprinkling of salt and pepper. Toss and spread out evenly in the dish. Arrange chicken pieces on top, skin-side up. Add the wine, pouring along the edges of the pan, and place basil sprigs on top. Cover tightly, and bake for 30 minutes.
3. Remove chicken from the oven and turn the oven temperature up as high as it will go, or turn the grill on and place an oven rack about eight inches from the heat. Return uncovered pan to oven and cook until chicken skin is browned, cooking liquid is reduced and vegetables are very soft, 10 to 15 minutes more.
4. Discard basil sprigs. Garnish with shredded basil and serve immediately.
Tips: Swap the basil for oregano at the end, and the dish picks up a Grecian accent, rather than Italian.
DIJON CHICKEN WITH SHALLOTS AND WHITE WINE
Serves four to six. Cooking time 90 minutes
Here is an easy, excellent one-pot recipe for a midweek feast, full of rich flavour, with a sauce that you won’t want to waste.
8 bone-in chicken thighs
2 tbsp flour
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp unsalted butter
12 to 15 whole medium shallots, peeled
400ml white wine
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 tarragon sprigs
25-30 cherry tomatoes, halved
1. Pat the chicken thighs very dry with paper towels. Sprinkle the flour, salt and pepper over the chicken.
2. Melt the butter in a large, heavy-bottomed pot or pan set over medium-high heat. When the butter foams, cook the chicken, in batches if necessary, until well browned and crisp on all sides. Set aside.
3. Add the whole shallots to the pot and sauté them in the butter and chicken fat until they begin to soften and caramelize, about 10 to 12 minutes. Add the wine to deglaze the pot, stir with a large spoon, then add the mustard and tarragon, then the chicken thighs. Cover the pot, turn the heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes.
4. Remove the lid, and allow the sauce to reduce and thicken, 15 to 20 minutes.
5. Add the cherry tomatoes to the pot, stir lightly to combine and serve immediately.
Tips: Slide your pan under a hot grill at the end of the cooking, to crisp the skin of the thighs.
CHICKEN WITH SWEET POTATOES AND FENNEL
Serves four. Cooking time 45 minutes
This zingy vinaigrette of sharp pecorino, warming cracked pepper and bright lemon is terrific on any salad, but you’ll love it drizzled over this easy oven tray dinner of chicken, sweet potatoes and fennel. Of course, there’s no need to use just sweet potatoes and fennel. You can substitute any seasonal vegetables instead.
4-6 large bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts
125ml olive oil
2 medium sweet potatoes, cut into small chunks
1 small fennel bulb, cut into thin wedges, fronds chopped and reserved
60ml white wine vinegar
1 lemon, zested, plus 2 tbsp juice
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, grated
1 tsp black pepper, plus more to taste
100g crumbled or grated pecorino cheese
Small bunch of parsley, leaves and tender stems
120g leafy greens, such as baby spinach or torn kale (optional)
1. Heat oven to 220 degrees Celsius, or equivalent . In a large bowl, toss chicken with two tablespoons oil. Season with salt and arrange on a large rimmed baking sheet, skin-side up.
2. In the same bowl, toss potatoes and fennel with two tablespoons oil. Season with salt and arrange in an even layer around the chicken.
3. Roast until chicken and potatoes are a deep golden brown and fennel is starting to caramelize at the edges, about 35 to 45 minutes.
4. As chicken cooks, combine vinegar, lemon zest and juice, mustard, garlic and one and a half teaspoons pepper in a small bowl. Whisk in remaining olive oil in a thin stream and stir in pecorino. Season with salt and pepper.
5. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board to rest. Toss the fennel fronds and parsley with the roasted vegetables.
6. To serve, cut the chicken off the bone and slice. Divide chicken and vegetables among plates. Serve with a handful of leafy greens if you like, and spoon the pecorino vinaigrette over everything.
Tips: Try serving the chicken on top of a handful of uncooked leafy greens.
OLIVE OIL-ROASTED CHICKEN WITH CARAMELIZED CARROTS
Serves four. Cooking time 70 minutes
Alison Roman developed this outrageously good recipe, essentially a weeknight chicken confit, with the bird cooked low and slow in plenty of olive oil alongside sweet carrots and tangy lemon slices. As delicious as it is, please make sure to save the oil that’s left over from the cooking, so that you can roast vegetables with it later, fry eggs, jump-start a pasta sauce or, of course, cook more chicken.
900g whole chicken legs, or bone-in, skin-on drumsticks or thighs
Salt and black pepper
1 bunch small, thin carrots, preferably with their green tops
2 heads garlic, left unpeeled and halved crosswise to expose the cloves
1 lemon, thinly sliced, seeds removed
2 bunch oregano, plus more leaves, for garnish (or 2tsp dried)
250ml olive oil
1. Heat an oven to 160 degrees Celsius, or equivalent . Season chicken with salt and pepper.
2. If the carrots have their green tops, trim them and save the greens for garnish or for using in salsa verde or pesto. (They can be treated like parsley.)
3. Arrange chicken in a large shallow baking dish or casserole so that the legs are snug and lying flat. Scatter garlic head halves, carrots, lemon slices and oregano sprigs (or dried oregano) among the chicken pieces, nestling everything in there. (It’s OK if the carrots stick out a bit.) Pour the olive oil over the chicken and vegetables. (Yes, you’re using all that oil! Don’t worry, it can be repurposed; see Tips.) Season again with salt and pepper.
4. Place in the oven, uncovered, and roast until the chicken is so tender it nearly falls off the bone and the carrots and lemons are nicely caramelized, 55 to 65 minutes
5. Remove from oven and let cool slightly. Divide chicken, vegetables and lemons among plates (or serve straight from the dish it was cooked in). Scatter with carrot tops, if you have them, and more oregano before eating. Reserve the leftover olive oil in the baking dish for another purpose.
Tips: To save that oil, strain it into an airtight container. You can keep it in the refrigerator for about a month. For amazing salad croutons, melt a few tablespoons of the leftover oil into a frying pan and use it to toast cubes of day-old bread. New York Times.