Chicken reigns supreme in U.S. kitchens. It's the lean, go-to protein that is easy on the wallet and offers up all kinds of possibilities for the home cook to be creative.
And when spring and warmer weather arrives, chicken becomes the center of attention for its adaptability.
Here you will find a trio of recipes that make the most of both the leaner white-meat breasts and the moister, more flavorful (and less expensive) chicken thighs.
Roasted Lemon Chicken with Asparagus and Peppers is simple enough for a beginner and goes on the table quickly. But, it's elegant looking when arranged as shown here, so it's great to serve for a dinner party.
Horseradish Encrusted Chicken has that one kickin' ingredient that changes up how this dish would taste if it were missing.
And finally, serve Chicken, Black Bean, Avocado and Radish Salad with Lime and Cilantro as a switch-up for lunch with the ladies. It's far from your typical chicken salad.
Chicken thighs have tons of flavor and are a nice change from lean boneless, skinless chicken breast. And less expensive. Yes, the thighs and legs have more fat, especially if you factor in the skin. But you can remove it to shave off some fat and calories.
Today's recipe rocks because you can put it together in the morning and let the chicken marinate all day. Pop it into the oven and get some asparagus and mini red peppers ready to roast while the chicken is roasting. This way, you can have dinner on the table in less than an hour.
You can use all chicken thigh or legs in this recipe.
ROASTED LEMON CHICKEN WITH ASPARAGUS AND PEPPERS
4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
4 chicken legs with skin
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 to 2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons Dijon or favorite grainy mustard
2 tablespoons maple syrup or honey
Salt and pepper to taste
Asparagus and Peppers (see note)
For the chicken: Pat the chicken thighs and legs dry. Remove any excess fat from the chicken thighs.
In a glass measuring cup, mix together the olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Reserve a few tablespoons of this mixture for the asparagus.
Place chicken pieces in a large bowl and drizzle the olive oil mixture over, tossing to coat. Refrigerate 2-8 hours.
For the glaze: In a small bowl, whisk together all the glaze ingredients. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place the chicken pieces in a roasting pan, skin-side down. Roast the chicken 25 minutes. Turn chicken skin side-up, brush pieces with some of the glaze and roast 10 more minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Remove from oven and place chicken on a platter; tent with foil.
Pour off as much fat as you can from the roasting pan and set the pan over two burners. Heat, scraping up any bits from the bottom of the pan.
Stir in the remaining glaze and heat through. Pour sauce into a small bowl (there won't be a lot of it) and serve with the chicken.
To make the asparagus and peppers: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Rinse and trim tough ends from 1/2 pound asparagus.
Slice 8 mini bell peppers into strips.
Drizzle a sided baking sheet with 1 tablespoon olive oil and place in the preheated oven for about 5 minutes.
Carefully remove the baking sheet from the oven. Add the asparagus spears and pepper pieces to the pan; they will sizzle. Place in the oven for 7 minutes, or until the just barely tender.
Remove from oven and drizzle with the reserved olive oil/lemon mixture or simply season with salt and pepper.
Serves 4, each with chicken only: 399 calories, 32 grams fat, 9 grams carbohydrates, 19 grams protein, 741 mg sodium, 69 mg cholesterol.
-- Susan Selasky, Detroit Free Press Test Kitchen
Horseradish mixed with mayonnaise gives zip to boneless, skinless chicken thighs, while panko bread crumbs form a golden crust. Chicken thighs have great flavor and remain juicy when sauteed.
Panko bread crumbs are a Japanese variety made from bread that has been baked or toasted, giving them a firm texture.
HORSERADISH ENCRUSTED CHICKEN
3/4 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts
1/4 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
2 tablespoons prepared horseradish
1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
2 teaspoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Remove visible fat from the chicken.
Mix mayonnaise with horseradish in a bowl.
Place bread crumbs on a plate.
Dip chicken into the mayonnaise mixture, making sure all sides are coated. Then, dip chicken into bread crumbs, coating all sides.
Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add chicken. Cook 5 minutes; turn and cook 5 more minutes. A meat thermometer should read 165 degrees. Remove to 2 dinner plates and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.
Makes 2 servings, each with 402 calories, 21.5 grams fat, 138 mg cholesterol, 36.5 grams protein, 13.5 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram fiber, 504 mg sodium.
-- Miami Herald
GARLIC SWEET POTATOES AND SUGAR SNAP PEAS
3/4 pound sweet potatoes
2 cups sugar snap peas, trimmed
1 teaspoon minced garlic or two garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon canola oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Peel potatoes and cut into strips the size of the peas (about 2-by-1/2 inches).
In microwave: Place potatoes, peas and garlic in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high 3 minutes.
On stove top: Bring a saucepan of water to a boil and add the potatoes. Boil 3 minutes. Add peas and garlic. Boil 2 more minutes. Drain.
Add olive oil and salt and pepper. Toss well.
Makes 2 servings, each with 196 calories 2.5 grams fat, 4.5 grams protein, 40 grams carbohydrates, 7 grams fiber, 97 mg sodium.
-- Miami Herald
Chicken, Black Bean, Avocado, and Radish Salad with Lime and Cilantro
2 boneless-skinless chicken breasts, poached, cooled and cut up to make 2 cups diced cooked chicken (or use leftover rotisserie chicken)
1 can (15 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained well
2 medium or large avocados, peeled and diced into 1 inch pieces
1 tablespoon fresh-squeezed lime juice
1 bunch radishes (about 10) washed, trimmed and cut into pieces
1/2 cup sliced green onion
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro, optional
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lime juice
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1-2 teaspoons Green Tabasco Sauce, or to taste
If you don't have leftover cooked chicken, trim 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts to remove fat and undesirable parts, then poach with barely simmering water covering the chicken for about 15-20 minutes (depending on the thickness of the chicken.) Let chicken cool.
While chicken cooks, put black beans into a colander placed in the sink and rinse well with cold water, until no more foam appears.
Let beans drain while you whisk together the olive oil, mayo, lime juice, cumin, and Green Tabasco to make the dressing. Put the well-drained beans into a bowl and toss with about half the dressing, then let beans marinate while you prep other ingredients.
Peel avocado and cut into pieces about 1 inch square. Put the avocado pieces into a small bowl and toss with 1 tablespoon lime juice.
When the chicken is cool, cut into pieces about 3/4 inch square.
Chop up the radishes, cutting them so each piece has some red skin showing for color.
Slice green onions and chop cilantro.
Add the chicken and chopped radishes to the beans and toss with additional dressing until the salad is as moist as you'd like it.
Stir in the sliced green onions and chopped cilantro, then gently stir in the avocado.
Season salad well with salt and fresh ground black pepper and serve right away.
This will keep for a day in the fridge, but it's best freshly made.