Everyone who eats chicken should have a simple and quick chicken dish that they can whip up on a weekday. Although I call it a recipe because I’ve given the detailed directions, it’s really a template because there are probably infinite ways you can vary the basic cooking techniques to come up with your own version.
This recipe works for me on so many levels (besides how simple and easy it is to make):
- it incorporates vegetables, so it’s really a 1 dish meal that only needs a starch and salad;
- it uses only 1 pan, which makes the person who cleans up your mess (maybe you) very happy;
- it has sauce, so it’s moist;
- it’s incredibly adaptable – you can make it as long as you have chicken, chicken broth, cooking oil, some vegetables and an herb or two; and
- it’s great reheated the next day, so you can make it ahead of time, or enjoy the leftovers.
Stove-top chicken – 2 servings + 1 piece for lunch the next day Total cost – $8.80 for 2+ (less than $4 per serving)
- 5 pieces of chicken (I used 1 large breast split in half, 1 leg, 1 thigh and 1 wing. This was ½ of the package I bought containing a whole chicken cut up. All I had to cut was the chicken breast. You could use any combination of pieces or even all of one type.)
- about 2 tablespoons of olive oil or other cooking oil
- 1 small onion, sliced into thin pieces or chopped
- ½ red pepper, sliced into thin pieces or chopped
- 1 cup sliced mushrooms
- 1 tomato chopped
- 1 tablespoon or more of chopped fresh rosemary or 1-2 teaspoons dried rosemary, plus a bit more to add at the end on top of finished dish
- 8 ounces of chicken broth – I used boxed broth
- salt and pepper to taste
- Cutting board
- Spoon (for stirring)
- Large pan with cover (big enough to hold chicken without pieces touching each other)
- Tongs or large fork
- Pat the chicken dry
- Slice or chop the onion and pepper and put in the bowl
- Slice the mushrooms, chop the rosemary and the tomato. (Even though we’re entering a cold snap, I still have herbs growing on my back deck, but if you don’t have a backyard, or a backyard herb garden, you can buy them fresh at many grocery stores.)
- Preheat the pan by adding the oil and heating until quite hot but not yet smoking
- Add the chicken and cook it on medium high heat for about 4-5 minutes each side, turning it until the skin is browned and all the meat is seared to a light color (no longer red). If you prefer to take off the skin, the pieces should be seared, but they won’t turn brown.
- Remove the chicken to the plate and let the oil in the pan reheat for a few moments so that it comes back up to a high temperature again. Remember poultry safety tips. Don’t use this plate for cooked chicken later, as at this stage chicken is not fully cooked.
- Add the onion and pepper to the pan and cook for approximately 8-10 minutes until the onions are nicely browned.
- Add the mushrooms, rosemary, and tomato to the onion and pepper mixture and cook for 2-3 minutes until the mushrooms are softened.
- Return chicken to pan and add the chicken broth. Bring broth to a boil under medium high heat (lots of bubbles around the sides), lower heat to a simmer (occasional bubbles) and cover. If you want to continue to use the tongs, wash them now, or use another fork to turn chicken over as it cooks.
- Cook at a simmer, covered, for about 20-25 minutes, turning pieces once. Test a piece for doneness before serving. Dark meat (legs and thighs) takes longer to cook than white meat (breast). Meat should be cooked until no pink shows if cut into the center and juice that runs is clear. (You’ll need to take a piece out of the pan to test it.)
- Add salt and pepper to taste, with a bit more rosemary on top of the chicken.
Tips – The sauce is delicious (light, but flavorful) and it’s nice to serve noodles, rice, or potatoes to soak it up. You can substitute other herbs such as thyme for the rosemary. This dish would also do well with a clove of garlic, crushed and cooked with the onion and pepper. You could add chunks of carrots and/or celery about halfway through the simmering. Go ahead – be brave and experiment with other seasonings and add-ons. I hope you’ll let us know when you find ways to take this template and make it your own recipe.