Chicken is easy, chicken is quick. Chicken can make a salad a meal, or make a bowl of rice or pasta enticing to a carnivorous type.
Yet chicken is not first on my list of easy and quick dinners. I’m no saint, but plopping a chicken breast on a baking sheet and letting it
dry out cook is a sin. I like my food to have flavor. It’s worth taking some time to figure out how to imbue flavor into the blank slate of chicken, the tofu of the meat-eating world.
As I learned when I retrieved Chicken Marbella from the dinner party archives, a marinade is one way to ensure that your chicken is great. It just means you’ve got to do a little bit of planning ahead, as I do for today’s chicken, in which boneless and skinless thighs sit for hours (or all day, even), in a sauce of mayonnaise, vinegar, and herbs. It’s not the kind of sauce you’d slurp up and call delicious, and in fact once the chicken is cooked you don’t even notice it’s there. Stealthily, it leaves the chicken pieces tasty and moist.
And then there’s the cooking method. Grilling treats chicken well, making even a skinless piece nice and crispy. But Brooklyn, no grill, no outdoor space, yadda yadda. I have a cast iron grill pan, and that’s a good way to cook these guys. But a regular pan, preferably still cast iron, works just as well, provided you cover it, which turns the pan into a little oven and gives you a combination technique somewhere between grilling and baking chicken. It may (full disclosure) cause your smoke alarm to go off but is fully justified because it cooks the chicken so damn quickly and leaves it so full of flavor.
I set the chicken on a nifty raw kale and rice salad, which would have been good enough to post on its own if I weren’t so preoccupied with the chicken on top. I let the kale wilt before tossing it with rice and golden raisins.
All of this, by the way, makes a great brown bag lunch–control yourself at dinner to ensure you’ve got leftovers.
More pretty easy chicken recipes for everyday dinners:
Seared Chicken Breasts with Cherry Tomato Pan Sauce and Fresh Mozzarella from Big Girls, Small Kitchen
Green Chile Chicken from Big Girls, Small Kitchen
Chicken with Broccoli from Yum Sugar
Asian-Marinated Baked Chicken from Chow.com
Spicy Chicken Thighs with Cucumber Avocado Salsa from Cookin’ Canuck
Chicken Satay Burgers from Closet Cooking
The Best Indoor Grilled Chicken with Kate & Rice Salad
Serves 2, with leftovers
The chicken owes much to this recipe from Food52.
For the chicken:
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup cider vinegar
juice of 1 lemon
2 teaspoons minced fresh oregano
1 tablespoon minced parsley
1/2 teaspoon salt
fresshly ground pepper
1 small garlic clove, minced.
4 skinless, boneless organic chicken thighs (about 1 1/4 pounds)
For the kale and rice salad:
1 cup long-grain white rice
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups kale, about 1/2 bunch, trimmed of middle stalk and cut into bite-sized ribbons
2 tablespoons olive oil
juice of 1 lemon
1 clove garlic, minced with 1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon chopped fresh basil (optional)
1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
1 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
3 tablespoons golden raisins
In advance, marinate the chicken: In a large bowl, combine the mayonnaise, vinegar, lemon juice, oregano, parsley, salt, pepper, and garlic. Add the chicken and use your hands to cover each piece well with the marinade. Marinate in the fridge for at least 3 hours and up to 12.
To cook the chicken, heat a cast iron pan over medium high heat for 6 minutes. Add 2-3 teaspoons of vegetable oil, enough to just coat the bottom of the pan. Place the in the pan chicken in one layer, and place a lid on top (it’s okay if it doesn’t fit exactly.) Cook the for 10 minutes, then remove to a plate and tent with foil for 5 minutes. If your chicken doesn’t all fit in one batch, add some more oil and cook the second batch.
To make the rice: Fill a large lidded pot with water and bring to a boil. Add the teaspoon of salt, then add the rice. Let the rice boil for 15 minutes, until it’s tender. Strain in a fine metal sieve to get off most of the water. Then spread the drained rice on a baking sheet to cool to room temperature and dry out a bit.
At least 30 minutes before serving, combine the kale with the olive oil. Add the garlic, lemon juice, herbs, and raisins, and toss to combine. Let the kale sit with the dressing while you finish up the chicken and let the rice cool. The kale will wilt and get a little more tender as it sits.
A few minutes before you’re ready to eat, toss the rice with the kale mixture. Taste for salt.
To serve, slice each chicken thigh into 6 pieces. Arrange them atop the rice, in individual portions or in one big bowl. Garnish with any extra herbs.