There is something so reassuring about throwing together a “chicken something” to get us through the midweek grind. It is reliable, can be cooked quickly or low and slow, and it’s adaptable to our needs when work and life get involved with our dinner schedule. The following recipes are equal parts comfort, and freshness and light, depending on the mood and/or temperature outside.
Zaatar garlic butter chicken and risoni with spring greens
What I love about this, other than its one-dish-and-done nature, is the adaptability of the greens. Nestle in whatever is plentiful and in-season and this is a cost-effective dinnertime win. Also: don’t skimp on the garlic butter part. It takes this dish to glory.
- 2-3 tbsp olive oil
- 4-6 chicken marylands, skin on
- 1 tbsp zaatar
- 1½ cups risoni
- 1 cup grated halloumi
- handful of cavolo nero leaves, roughly chopped
- 2¼ cups chicken stock
- 6-8 baby zucchini* (with their flowers, optional)
Zaatar garlic butter
- 3 garlic cloves, sliced
- ½ tbsp zaatar
- 40g butter
- coarsely torn soft herbs to serve, such as tarragon, mint, flat-leaf parsley
- Preheat oven to 190C fan-forced (210C conventional).
- Drizzle the olive oil in the base of a large roasting dish. Add the chicken marylands, skin side up, and give them a good swish in the oil. Scatter over the zaatar. Pop in the oven and cook for 20 minutes.
- Combine the risoni, grated haloumi and cavolo nero in a bowl. When the chicken has had its initial cook, add the risoni mixture into the tray, around the pieces of chicken. Pour over the chicken stock, being careful to avoid getting it on the chicken skin. Arrange the zucchini, or whatever seasonal greens you’re using, on top of the risoni, and return the tray to the oven for a further 30 minutes. Remove from the heat.
- Add the garlic butter ingredients to a saucepan and place over medium heat. Cook, swirling regularly to prevent the spices from burning, until the butter has melted and the garlic is golden.
- Pour the butter over the top of the chicken. Scatter with herbs, season generously with salt and pepper, and serve.
Note: If you can’t find baby zucchini, cut a couple of standard zucchini lengthways into quarters instead.
Pizza chicken with pepperoni, mozzarella and roasted tomatoes
This is easy, cheesy and delicious. Served with some crunchy bread and a bright salad, it’s equal parts comfort and freshness as we gently welcome the warmer weather. If you can, use an ovenproof deep-sided frying pan to move this into the one-pot wonder territory, but make sure it’s a large pan so everything gets an even tan in the oven.
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1kg chicken thigh cutlets, skin on
- 1 brown onion, finely diced
- 4 garlic cloves, finely diced
- 2 tbsp fresh oregano
- 3-4 tbsp tomato paste
- ½ cup vodka
- ½ cup pouring cream
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes
- 200g mozzarella
- 80g pepperoni
- Preheat oven to 180C fan-forced (200C conventional).
- Add the olive oil to an ovenproof frying pan and place over medium heat. Once shimmering, add the chicken, skin side down, and turn the heat to low. Cook for 10 minutes or until the skin has rendered and looks golden and crisp. Gently remove the chicken to a plate.
- Reduce the heat to low, add the onion to the pan and cook until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and oregano and cook until fragrant, before adding the tomato paste, and cook until the paste darkens a little. Stir in the vodka and cream. Add the cherry tomatoes, then nestle the chicken back in, skin side up. Scatter over the mozzarella and pepperoni.
- Pop in the oven for 30-40 minutes or until the cheese has melted and the pepperoni is crisp. Season generously with salt and pepper. Serve hot with bread for scooping the cheese and saucy goodness, and a salad for freshness.
The marinade is also the sauce – that is immediately a win. This works after marinating for a few days in the fridge, as much as it does after a quick plunge bath in the saucy goodness, before throwing on the grill.
- 2 large roasted marinated peppers
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1 tbsp honey
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 tsp Aleppo pepper* (Turkish pepper flakes)
- 2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for grilling
- 3 tbsp mint leaves, roughly chopped
- ½ cup Greek yoghurt
- 700g chicken thighs, cut into evenly sized strips (about 2cm thick)
Optional to serve:
- hot chips
- leftover sauce
- additional fresh mint leaves
- Add the roasted peppers, garlic, honey, tomato paste, Aleppo pepper, olive oil and chopped mint to a food processor and blitz until you get a thick sauce-like consistency. Season with salt and pepper.
- Add half the mixture to a bowl with the yoghurt and stir to combine. Add the sliced chicken thigh pieces, turning to coat, making sure the chicken is submerged in the marinade. Reserve the remaining capsicum mixture for serving. (You can marinate the chicken for up to 24 hours or simply bring to room temperature on the bench while you gather your accompaniments for the dish.)
- Folding the strips of chicken back on themselves, thread chicken onto metal or bamboo skewers (if using bamboo, first soak the skewers in water for 30 minutes to minimise burning). You’ll need about six skewers.
- Turn a barbecue hot plate to medium-high heat. Add plenty of olive oil to the plate to prevent the chicken from sticking, and cook the skewers for 1-2 minutes each side. Pop the lid down and cook for another 5 minutes or until golden and charred in a few spots, and just cooked.
- Serve with flatbreads, hot chips, the reserved capsicum sauce and extra yoghurt and fresh mint.
Note: Dried chilli flakes can be substituted for Aleppo pepper
Sticky chicken and edamame lettuce cups
Make this in double batches. It works like a dream for work and school lunches for the days that follow. And it is hand-on-heart just as good cold as it is warm from the cook. There is nothing better than a salad that can last the distance in the fridge.
- 1 cup pineapple juice
- ½ cup mirin
- 2 tbsp sweet soy sauce
- 1 tbsp oyster sauce
- ½ tbsp finely grated ginger
- 1 large stalk lemongrass, white part only grated (or use 3 tbsp store-bought lemongrass paste)
- 4 large chicken thighs
- 2 cups cooked brown rice, warm
- 1 cup mint leaves, shredded
- 1 cup coriander leaves, chopped
- 1 cup cooked podded edamame, warm or cool
- 2 x cos lettuce, leaves separated
- crunchy chilli oil, to serve (optional)
- 1 tbsp sesame seeds, to serve
- Add the marinade ingredients to a saucepan and bring to a rolling boil. Add the chicken thighs. If you feel you don’t have enough liquid, add a little more pineapple juice and sweet soy. Cook for 3 minutes, then remove from heat and set aside to cool (the chicken will cook in the residual heat). Once cool, remove the chicken and shred using two forks. Reserve the cooking liquid.
- Make the salad by combining the rice, mint, coriander and edamame in a bowl. Add a few tablespoons of the cooking liquid and toss to coat. You may want to add a little more; however, it’s there for flavour rather than to make this gloopy, so use a light hand and toss thoroughly before adding more dressing.
- Transfer the rice mixture to a serving bowl. Add the shredded chicken alongside and arrange the cos lettuce leaves. Sprinkle the sesame seeds on the chicken, serve with chilli oil on the side, and let everyone help themselves.
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