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easy chicken meal

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
I'm a busy student but trying to figure more of this cooking out ... I'm in search of something new to try that involves chicken.

I'm looking for suggestions of a main course dish. It can involve any types of sauces, etc. Basically, I'd just like something fancier than the plain old chicken meal..

Any ideas on presentation, etc. are greatly appreciated.

Thanks for the help in this. I look forward to getting involved with this site!

post #2 of 17
welcome ed,
Nice to have you on cheftalk.

Boy let me tell you if you did a search on the internet under chicken you would probably get hits and ever more recipes.

Braised chicken with autumn squashes and root vegetables and herbs is very comforting,Grilled brochettes of all kinds,stuffed breast..maybe spinach,buffolo mozz and procuitto with a raspberry vinaigrette.

Crush some macadamia nuts and mix in with some bread crumbs and sautee the breast and serve with a warm pineapple salad with a ginger-wasabi glaze.

Chicken satays with assorted dips.

The list is endless,but theres some ideas to help
Baruch ben Rueven / Chanaבראד, ילד של ריימונד והאלאן
Baruch ben Rueven / Chanaבראד, ילד של ריימונד והאלאן
post #3 of 17

Chicken meals? EASY!

I'm sorry, but Cape Chef is wrong: you'd probably find 2,000,000,000,000,... recipes for chicken! if not more!!! ;)

Here's what I think you need to know about cooking chicken:

Take the chicken parts you want to cook. Doesn't matter -- breast, thighs, legs, necks, even livers. Sprinkle them with a little salt and pepper.

Put a little fat* in a frying pan over a burner. Turn on the flame (medium to almost high) and let it melt or spread. Once it's really nice and hot, put in the chicken. Skin side down if it's got skin on one side; any which way if not. Leave it alone until it's nice and brown on the side hitting the pan. Then turn it over. Cover the pan. Let it cook a while -- we're talking 5 minutes or so here -- then take off the cover and press down on the meat part of the chicken. YES, WITH YOUR FINGER. If it still feels really soft and squishy and spongy, put the cover back and do the same thing again in another 5 minutes. Keep doing this until the meat feels firm. Then take it out and put it on a plate.

NOW: pour some liquid** into the pan. Scrape up the browned bits of juices from the bottom of the pan -- use a spatula, a spoon, a pancake turner, even a trowel as long as it's CLEAN -- and toss in some vegetable(s)*** and other stuff****(if you have anything else). Leave it alone again, just check every minute or so to make sure there's still liquid there.

WHILE THE CHICKEN IS COOKING, cook some sort of starchy thing (noodles, rice, potatoes, taro, batata, dumpling, whatever).

Once the vegetable(s) is/are cooked, put the chicken back in the pan (pour in any juices that ran out while it was waiting). Let the chicken get hot again.

Put the starch on the plate. Put the chicken on top of that. Pour the vegetable(s), other stuff, and remaining liquid over that.


* Fat can be just about any kind of edible oil (please don't use 10W40!) or butter or margarine or animal fat. Just don't use a lot, since you'll probably get more out of the chicken.

** Liquid can be water, wine (any kind), beer, juice (fruit or vegetable), broth (almost any kind; maybe not fish), tomato sauce, bottled Szechuan sauce, etc. Whatever you have in your fridge or closet.

***Do I really have to tell you what vegetables are?!?!?!

****Other stuff means things like herbs, spices, peanut butter,
chopped pecans, canned pineapple bits, chopped ginger, you get the idea.

There are 2 main points to this exercise:
1. You'll learn what combinations of foods you like, and which are really gross (although it's possible that you might end up liking something that other people think is totally gross); that is, you'll start to develop what is called a "palate;" so then you'll be able to recognize good food when you taste it.

2. You'll learn that there is NO MYSTERY to cooking great stuff.

"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
post #4 of 17
That's great advice for cooking chicken Suzanne. There are surely more chicken recipes than any other and they are easy to find. But I don't think I have ever seen the techniques described so completely and succinctly. Even the most timid of cooks would succeed using these methods.

post #5 of 17
A couple of my favourites,

Szechuan Chicken,


Kung Po Chicken

The Oriental Cookbook - OrientalCookbook.co.uk
The Oriental Cookbook - OrientalCookbook.co.uk
post #6 of 17
There may be 100 ways to cook an egg, but chicken is the blank canvas of the culinary world, awaiting the attention of every cook on the planet. Oddly enough, I find chickens from the markets these days are actually not that flavorful, it is easy to get the breasts overcooked, dry and tough. The hens my mother's mother fixed up back in my childhood days when we visited the farm are a completely different story. Sigh.

Anyway, pretty much any culture has some sort of chicken dish as a popular favorite. You name the style, chances are a chicken recipe can be found. Recently I made a chicken fricassee based on a recipe in James Peterson's "Sauces" cookbook that turned out REALLY good. It was a bit complicated, but worth it.

Here's a fairly simple possibility for a different style of preparing chicken:

Get a pound or so of chicken thighs, maybe 5 - 6 good sized pieces. Rinse under cold water, pull off any clumps of excess fat.

Heat about a cup and a half of orange juice, or even a can of frozen concentrate over medium heat in a sufficiently large skillet or fry pan, preferably one with a lid. Throw in a few peeled, coarsely mashed cloves of garlic, a bay leaf and maybe two whole cloves. Put the chicken pieces in the orange juice, cover and simmer gently for about 45 minutes. You want the liquid to come up to a bit over halfway up the chicken, add more juice, broth or water as needed. After about 20 minutes or so flip the pieces over. You want even cooking.

When the chicken is done remove and keep warm. Remove and discard the bay leaf and cloves from the juice. Add salt and pepper to taste, bring to a boil and reduce for maybe 5 minutes or so. You may get pools of chicken grease on the surface, skim these off, but no need to be too picky. Plate the chicken, spoon some sauce over it, garnish with a slice of fresh orange if so desired. Serve with rice, or homemade biscuits, or a summer veggie saute, or mac and cheese, or ....

Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
post #7 of 17
Order some Penzey's tandoori chicken spice mix, follow the directions and you get incredible roast chicken.
post #8 of 17
That's grand suggestion for cooking chicken
post #9 of 17
Hi Ed and Welcome.

Great ideas and techniques as above.

Was just thinking, as a student you may be working to a tight budget. What I do when the pennies are tight is but one of those dehydrated pasta and sauce packets, make it up till its almost done, finely slice chicken thigh fillet, and let it simmer in there for 10 minutes. Add some simple dried spices, like oregano or paprika, or S & P, whatever tickles your fancy, even toss in some frozen peas or tinned corn niblets (helps to defrost them in hot water first - -saves cooking time)
 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

post #10 of 17
Do you have a date? :blush:

One thing that's relatively easy to make (and impresses people) is a stuffed chicken breast. Get the boneless/skinless breasts from the store, butterfly them (cut them *almost* in half (lengthwise) horizontally, and leave a little "hinge" so that they open up flat), sprinkle with salt and pepper, and pick a filling:

Ham, swiss or provolone cheese, and scallions are a classic. Lay down the ham, then the sliced cheese, sprinkle on the scallions, roll up, secure with toothpicks, and coat in bread crumbs. Bake at 350 until done... depending on the size of the breasts, somewhere in the neighborhood fo 45 minutes. Google "chicken cordon bleu" for a recipe that includes the sauce. (My mom always made it with a shallot-white wine gravy instead of the classic cream sauce, and that's usually how I like to make it too)

Spinach, roasted garlic, mozzarella and sundried tomato are also delicious, even though it's a little more time consuming. Wrap a bulb of garlic in foil with some olive oil and salt, and roast at 350 for 45 minutes or so, until tender and fragrant. Squeeze the garlic out of the cloves and spread over the chicken (use just enough for a thin layer over the butterflied side of the chicken). Lay down the spinach leaves so they overlap slightly, then the mozzarella, then the sundried tomatoes. If the tomatoes are completely dry, reconstitute in hot water before using. (Oil packed would work best for this). Roll up, secure with tooth pics, coat in bread crumbs, et cetera.

Serve with a rice pilaf or risotto... you want something complementary without being plain or overpowering. Plate the rice first in the center of the plate, then cut the chicken breasts in half diagonally, place one piece down flat, and stand the other up leaning against it, on top of the rice. For the Chicken Cordon Bleu, spoon the sauce partially across the chicken and in a little swirl around the plate (serve the remainder of the sauce on the side).

For the chicken with the spinach and mozzarella, plate similarly, but top with a basil chiffonade (thinly sliced fresh basil leaves to look like little ribbons), and garnish the sides of the plate with roasted garlic cloves and dabs of pesto (you can buy bottled, or make your own. Google pesto).

Simple, easy, and impressive... good luck :-)
For the best cakes in Spokane (and all the "weird" designs that other bakers won't do) visit www.cakes-by-sarah.com !
For the best cakes in Spokane (and all the "weird" designs that other bakers won't do) visit www.cakes-by-sarah.com !
post #11 of 17
For people at the "culinary student" level who are interested in expanding their repertoire, I'd suggest moving into fairly exotic spicing or something that makes use of the techniques you're learning, or preferably both.

To that end, I'd suggest three stews:

Butter Chicken (a mild Indian curry, it's time you learned to lyonnaise onions anyway)
Chicken Marengo (a classic French/Italian dish. Don't forget to flute those mushrooms!)
Chicken en mole Poblano (for those who like their chicken with chocolate)

Dig around the net and see what you can find with techniques and ingredients which really tickle your prospective palate. Learning to evaluate recipes by reading is part of your culinary education. Watch out for sugar on the mole poblano you don't want it sweet.

Then there's ... Southern Fried Chicken (you think it's easy doing something this simple?) A wonderful variation is to half-cook chicken leg quarters in the smoker, before breading and frying. Find a why to work some chopotle in there. Trust me.

Speaking of presentation, what about Thai "Angel wings." Time to learn to "lollipop" a leg or wing, anyway.

You can do well with any veal cutlet or escalope recipe substituting boned out, flattened thigh for veal. Generally, the thigh is certainly more forgiving than the breast. I can bone thighs out at about 30 secs per when I get going. How fast are you?

Boned out, quartered thighs, marinated in olive oil, white wine and lots of garlic, en brochette and grilled very slowly then dusted with fresh oregano and spritzed with a lemon squeeze just before serving.

Good luck on the journey,
post #12 of 17
Oregon Yeti's suggestion of Tandoori rocks!! I had that dish in Kathmandu and Penzeys has that blend down.

I love roasting a whole chicken with lemons and onions stuffed inside. Some garlic, rosemary or ??? under the skin.

Garlic - lemon--I use quarters, marinate with lemon juice and zest, minced garlic, salt and pepper. Put on sheet, put some marinade on top and a bit of olive oil. Bake.

This one has been around some of the forums for years, no idea where it started, but amazing flavors and presentation--

Servings – 6

1/4 cup Dijon mustard, thinned w/ 3T water
2/3 cup maple syrup
2 teaspoons rubbed sage or ground sage
2 teaspoons curry powder
4 pounds chicken pieces, skinned (dark meat is the best)

In a small saucepan, add all ingredients, except chicken. Stir until sage and curry powder are well-blended. Place chicken pieces in a casserole or baking pan that crowds the chicken a little. Pour mustard sauce over chicken, and place in oven. Bake at 425 degrees, for approximately an hour. When chicken is golden brown and sauce has separated, transfer chicken to a serving dish and cover with foil to keep warm. Discard the chicken fat that has accumulated in baking pan.

works well with breasts also. I really recommend leaving the skin on.

will add that I sometimes use skin on thighs . The skin gets wonderfully crispy. It's a good recipe. It is the best recipe. I leave the skin on and bake it skin side up. It gets REALLY crispy and brown--delicious with the sauce.

enjoy, Nan
post #13 of 17
being a single person, loving mole, using very few convenience foods, have to admit Dona Maria's mole sauce freakin' rocks. It keeps in the fride for a long time, I do 4 thighs, use 1/4 jar.

I have the recipe with 28 ingredients and have made it twice, just showing off!! But on another forum this was recommended and I must say it is very, very good.

Have you tried it,
post #14 of 17
I love molé chicken too, and I use that Dona Maria's :lips:
post #15 of 17
"Yes" to tried, and, "Si mon!" to rocks. I'm a big fan of Dona Maria's moles. I really love the Pipian (pumpkin seed)!

I know what you mean about numbers of ingredients. I've got two good, complicated, very authentic recipes one a mole poblano and the other a mole negro -- not that there's a huge difference but mole negro runs a little less complicated. Oaxacan cuisine is one of the few where there's no such thing as too much going on. It seems like that when it's done right the more different chiles and spices going in, the more of a married blend you end up with.

It took me years to learn that it's usually sure death. Well, actually, always sure death when it comes to my own American and Euro cooking. I've always been prone to overcomplication and still have to fight the tendency.

Speaking of which, watch out for Rick Bayliss and others who want to make Mexican cuisine very prettified and up-market. Not that he and they aren't good -- because often he and they are very good. But it's nice to get a handle on the real deal before you go all upper middle class. In other words, learn to sing the melody before you add the harmony.

Every so often my wife gets the urge to make something along the authentic-hundreds-of-ingredients line and that means major shopping. Always a kick. Unfortunately she doesn't speak Spanish and the recipes she chooses always seem to be off in some way. It's not her, she's a great cook. It's just hard to evaluate things with a lot of unfamiliar ingredients that don't really come together until hours and hours of cooking. And , for whatever reason, The mamasotas posting them can be a little tricky about posting all the ingredients and techniques.

Anyway, the recipes I've got are in Spanish (recetas), my notes on them are mostly in Spanglish (pinche notas), and I've yet to translate them and write them for a wider audience.

post #16 of 17
"Time to learn to "lollipop" a leg or wing, anyway."

I never understood the need to lollipop or french bones. I think chefs only do that so that they can keep the good bits for themselves!

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."


"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

post #17 of 17

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