Chicken is a recurring character at dinner tables, but sometimes it needs a new writer (err, cook) to advance its story. If you're in search for a new storyline for your chicken, you're in the right — from easy Mexican chicken dinners to a chicken stir-fry, Yummly has thousands of chicken recipes to choose from…
Baked chicken can come in many forms and flavors, you just have to find the right ones to suit your mood. If you're not confident about how to bake chicken, here are a few tips:
Don't wash it: While there are a lot of safety concerns surrounding raw chicken, you should not wash it. When you wash chicken, the splashing water actually spreads the bacteria. While not washing it contains the bacteria, if it's cooked to the proper internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit, the dangerous bacteria is cooked off.
Pat dry: Use a paper towel to pat dry the chicken to remove excess moisture. The less moisture, the browner and crispier the chicken.
Flatten it: If you're stuffing your baked chicken or you're making something like chicken parmigiana, you should pound out your chicken so the chicken breast cooks evenly. To do this, it's good to butterfly it by splitting the breast horizontally with a knife. If you do it right, you'll be able to open it up like a book. You then have two thin chicken cutlets to pound with a meat mallet.
For Greek flavor, you can marinate chicken thighs in lemon juice and olive oil before sliding them in the oven and serving them with a side of tzatziki and cucumber salad. If casseroles are more your style, barbecue chicken casserole or cheesy chicken and rice casserole make good use of chicken breasts for traditional American dinner recipes.
Slow Cooker Chicken
Easy chicken dishes and slow cookers seem to be made for each other. The slow cooker keeps skinless chicken and chicken breast recipes from drying out by steeping them in sauces for hours, but dark meat is best for slow cooking. A few things to remember for slow cooking:
Don't fill your pot too full: If you dump too many ingredients in at a time, you risk your food being cooked unevenly or your cook time will increase significantly
Resist the urge to lift the lid: This lets out the heat and will not only cost you cooking time, but if you leave the lid off you'll also lose moisture
Thaw frozen raw chicken before putting it in the slow cooker: The temperature ""danger zone"" is between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit. That means bacteria grow the fastest between those two temperatures and the low setting on most slow cookers is 170 degrees Fahrenheit. That means putting raw frozen chicken in a crockpot and setting it on low could put your food in the temperature danger zone much longer than is safe. If you have the slow cooker technique down, the list of recipes to try is endless. Slow cooker sticky chicken goes well with a side of rice and stir-fry vegetables, but if you're looking for simple flavors, you can't beat rosemary chicken with a side of mashed potatoes. And after one bite of a slow cooker honey garlic chicken, ""set it and forget it"" will be your new mantra.
If you need to steer away from fried chicken, there are plenty of grilled chicken recipes to fill your plate. Italian herb chicken nestles nicely on the grate, but sriracha and lime is a magical marinade for chicken kababs that might just be your new family favorite. The best part of grilled chicken is that the leftovers make a salad topper that you can't wait to eat. If you're new to grilling, here are a few tips:
Oil the grate: When your grill is good and hot, dab a cloth in vegetable oil and rub in on the grate using tongs. This will prevent the chicken from sticking to the grate. Trim the fat: While we are proponents of leaving the skin on, try to cut off the excess skin and fat. It will render into the grill and spark unwanted flames. Glaze at the end of cooking: Glazes should go on just before the chicken is done cooking. Glazes typically have sugar in them which carmelize during grilling, but if you glaze too soon you run the risk of the glaze burning instead of carmelizing.
Good To Know Tips For Cooking Chicken
Cook Time: The total cook time will depend on the cut of chicken and how it's cooked, but the safe internal temperature will always be 165 degrees. If you don't have an instant-read digital thermometer, it's something you should add to your kitchen tool belt. Eyeballing chicken is very difficult to do, and having a thermometer eliminates any guesswork you might have to do. It also saves you time in the long run if you don't want to have to throw pink chicken back on the grill.
Rest Time: Like with most meats, you should always let your chicken rest before you cut into it. While it seems exciting to cut into chicken legs or chicken breasts and have juice pour out, that juice just ends up on the plate, not in each bite of the chicken. This is because the muscle contracts as it cooks, releasing the liquid. When you let the chicken rest before cutting, it has a chance to reabsorb those juices that would otherwise pool on the plate.
Marinating Chicken: Aside from dairy-based marinades you would use for dishes like chicken tikka masala, marinades are much like vinaigrettes, marinades are typically a combination of oil, acid, and flavorings — but the ratios for chicken marinades will be a little bit different, depending on the recipe. That goes for the total time to marinate as well, just remember that the more acid there is, the less time it will take to marinate. If your chicken breast drowns in straight lime juice overnight, it will disintegrate into inedible bits. You should also remember that marinades only tenderize and add flavor to the outside layer of the chicken. Don't expect those flavors to penetrate a thick piece of boneless chicken, but that doesn't mean your marinades are useless. They're excellent for kebabs and smaller cuts, but for bigger cuts, you may just want to use a sauce when you plate your meal. If you really want a better flavor for big cuts of chicken, brining works well to get the salt deep in the meat of chicken.
Dry Rubs: A dry rub is an excellent alternative to marinades for getting more flavor into your chicken. Dry rubs are spice mixes that you apply to the chicken before cooking. They're great for rotisserie chicken (yes, you can do rotisserie chicken at home — there are pressure cooker recipes as well as recipes for the grill). If you find a dry rub recipe you like, you can mix up a big batch and store it in an air-tight container for up to six months.
Chicken Skin: If you're more concerned about flavor than fat, consider leaving on the chicken skin. A boneless skinless chicken breast can be extremely bland and dry. If you leave the skin on, during cooking the fat from the skin renders and seeps into the meat of the chicken adding all sorts of moisture and flavor. There is about a 30-calorie difference between a skin-on breast and a skinless breast, so it's up to you to do the cost-benefit analysis of flavor vs fat.
Chicken Bones: If you have the option of cooking chicken with the bones intact, take it. Bones are loaded with flavor — which is why they're an important component of chicken stock. As the chicken cooks, the bones release flavor into the meat. A bone-in chicken breast only takes about five minutes longer to cook and for more flavor, it's worth the wait.
Chicken is a blank canvas for the seasoned cook and training wheels for the novice. It's very versatile and easy to work with no matter what you plan to make with it. Whether it's sauced, battered, or grilled — however you take your chicken, we have ideas and inspiration for dinner tonight and lunch tomorrow.