1st home cooking date with chicken
I am trying to make a home cook meal for the guy that I am dating. He is not very adventureous (sp) with food. His reply if asked what his favorite food is would be "chicken" with no other word to describe the chicken.
I am wondering if anyone can give me a realitvely easy meal to prepare.
A simple roast chicken is always good and simple to do. I take a chicken, remove the bag of gizards/liver, rinse the chicken and rub it all over with olive oil. Then I season it, salt and pepper are a must, I also use paprika, red pepper and Bells Seasoning. I tuck a couple bay leaves into the cavity and place the bird on sliced onions in a roasting pan/pie plate. Roast according to directions. Serve with whatever sides you are comfortable with. Salad, a rice mix and glazed carrots are pretty simple. You can even buy good corn bread in the grocery store to round out the meal.
I made my husband roast chicken for our first home-cooked meal and it was easy, beautiful, and yummy.
I put lemon and rosemary in the cavity. I also put a mixture of butter and dijon mustard under the skin before baking when i have time. It's really good. Potatoes and carrots in the pan and a green salad can be made with little extra effort.B
A favorite at our house is bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts. I roast them on a bed of parboiled potatoes at 425 degrees. They take about 30 minutes. My wife prefers red skinned potatoes, so I use those, but you could use any sort you like. I cut them into pieces that would be about 2 bites each, boil them for 8-10 minutes to give them a head start, put them in a ceramic baking dish, put the chicken on top (seasoned with salt and pepper) and pop the dish into the preheated oven. You could serve it with a salad or any vegetable you like; we usually go with steamed asparagus or green beans or snap peas...whatever looked best the last time we shopped and is therefore in the house.
You could also dress the whole thing up and make a sauce, though its really not necessary. If you wanted to, though, sautee some onion and garlic, add some mushrooms and let it all cook for a few minutes, add a bit of oil if the pan is dry, then add a bit of flour, stir it through and deglaze with white wine, a squeeze of lemon, salt, pepper and thyme, perhaps...let it simmer until it's thickened up. You can add some chicken stock/broth if it's too strong, but we tend to like our sauces with a bit of punch so I usually don't.
One good tip is, if you can find it, get kosher chicken as it will have been salted and we find them much juicier and tastier in this preparation.
Great tip on the kosher chicken - or brine it yourself if you can't find one... You just need a container big enough to submerse either the whole chicken or chicken parts. Breasts should be easy enough. Brining solution recipes abound in cookbooks but America's Test Kitchen is my favorite cookbook resources when it comes to finding standard techniques and recipes. You can also get thighes and debone them. The thigh meat is usually more moist and fatty, so your results will be more succulent with all other things being equal.
Check out this post under "General Topics."
A couple of us listed general ingredients for lemon grass chicken, and if you don't have access to lemon grass, either fresh, frozen, or dried, don't sweat it. You can use lemon zest in a pinch and it will still come out great if you decide to go down this road. The fish sauce is strong stuff so add it sparingly as you tweek the marinade. Don't let the smell throw you if you've never used it before - it's potent smell becomes muted and translates into an extremely savory dish that hits that umami area of the palate.
I second the roast chicken idea -- it's a lot easier than some people think, and it looks impressive. Just look online for some carving instructions! I'd also chop up some potatoes and roast them in the chicken juices, and maybe make a nice tomato/corn salad (or even panzanella, great with chicken) to go along with it.
Someone who's not very adventuresome will have some predictable problems, IMHO, with lemongrass and fish sauce. So be careful about choosing your ingredients. I believe simpler will be better. The only other thing I'd caution is to make sure you leave enough time for the chicken to roast. Nothing worse (esp with picky eaters) than cutting into a very bloody chicken, which can happen with a whole roasted bird. To avoid that, you may want to consider butterflying it or halving it to roast. Roasted potatoes would be terrifically easy, but so would mashed potatoes. The bonus with the mashed spuds is that the non-adventurous will recognize and accept them much more readily. I pick up from your post that this is someone you'd like to keep cooking for ... so don't chase him off first thing!
Oven fried chicken is simple and you can adjust the seasoning for him. I don't usually use a recipe but something like this (though I soak my chicken in buttermilk first, using only thighs makes it really easy):
When chicken is baking, cut the top off a clove of garlic, drizzle olive oil on top and bake 30 mintes and make garlic mashed potatoes.
Make mashed red potatoes (boil cut potatoes about 15 minutes until you can pierce easily w/ fork). When done, drain, mashed w/ butter and warmed milk. When garlic is done, squeeze into potatoes and mash.
With chicken drippings, make a gravy. Add a salad. Really easy, basic every day food.
Cook's Illustrated's saute'd chicken breast is very easy and very good. You can add whatever accompaniments you wish, but it's a really good basic.
super easy chicken recipe that is a favorite stand-by in my family:
2 c sour cream, 1/4 cup lemon juice, 4 t Worcestershire, 2 t celery salt, 2 t paprika, 1/2 t garlic salt, 1 T salt, 1/2 t pepper (mix all of these together) - marinate chicken in the previous mixture - can marinate 30 min, but is better the longer you marinate it! Roll chicken in Ritz cracker crumbs, put in baking dish,and bake at 350 degrese until done (can't remember how long this takes, but as long as any other chicken breast rec`ipe) - pour a few tablespoons of melted butter on top if you like...serve with any green vegetable and a potato...makes a fantastic, but easy meal:)
You can roast some chicken pieces, if you don't feel like having to deal with carving a bird.
Ask him if he likes white meat or dark. Make sure whatever you get is on the bone. Trim off any extra skin. Rub the pieces with salt, pepper, some herbs (I like thyme) and a bit of olive oil. Place the pieces skin side up on a baking sheet (I like to use a metal, edged cookie sheet) and bake, uncovered at 400 for about 50 minutes...a bit less if you've got just breasts. The skin will come out crispy.
Serve with some roasted potatoes on the side (you can do these at the same time) and a simple veggie, such as steamed broccoli or green beans. Or a salad.
I would probably make a roast chicken or chicken parmesan because I don't know any picky eater that doesn't like cheese and pasta. Pound the chicken (or buy cutlets), dip in flour, egg wash, then breadcrumbs and fry in a small amount of olive oil in a skillet, then remove. I then make a quick tomato sauce, add the chicken back to the skillet with the sauce and top with fresh mozzarella. Cover and heat until cheese is melted and serve with pasta. A nice salad and bread would round out the meal.
Stuffed chicken breasts is my go-to easy chicken recipe.
Take fresh or thawed chicken breast, butterfly them, and then stuff with whatever you like! I like carmelized onions, sun-dried tomatos (you could even use canned, diced tomatos), garlic, & parmesean cheese. I then drizzle a good amount of inexpensive italian salad dressing (I like wishbone Robust Italian) over the chicken breasts, for lots of flavor and to keep them really moist. Bake at 375 for 18-22 mins. Use toothpicks if necessary to hold together.
Serve with good crusty parm bread and a salad.
For what it's worth, my go-to cook for a date meal was always risotto and a steak with a nice side. roast chicken is not something i wanted to deal with - carving, making sure it had a good flavor, etc - i'd like to learn to make it one day, but i KNOW i make wicked good risotto and broiling a steak is easy.
However, if I were thinking of a roast chicken, I'd probably buy one from Wegmans if I lived near. Why? Well, for starters, they're delicious...and they're $5. No one would have to know I bought it ;) My boyfriend and I enjoy a Wegmans roast chicken most Sunday nights because for $10 we can have a delicious, healthy meal with leftovers. Just roast off some new potatoes in oil, salt, pepper, rosemary or thyme...roast or steam some veggies (asparagus is my favorite) or even sauté some green beans or zucchini. i also like to sauté some spinach because it's healthy, fast, and easy.
Those are my thoughts....and it doesn't get much easier then buying a chicken if you have the access.
I would make sure that he's comfy with bone-in chicken. Over the past few years, I've been amazed at how many people I know are uncomfortable with anything other than boneless/skinless chicken.....
If he's OK with anything, roast chicken IS great and it makes the place smell awesome. My favorite rendition is from Judy Rodgers of Zuni Cafe:
The only caution I would give is to make sure you have a clean oven since it cooks at a relatively high temp and burning fat smoke might not be too romantic. ;) Also, I've only used a non-kosher chicken with this method- I think it would be too salty with a kosher chicken.
If he's not into bone-in chicken, chicken stew made with boneless/skinless chicken thigh meat might do the trick. With that, there's a little more leeway about cooking time. Homemade biscuits on the side, a nice green salad, and you're set with a comfort-food dinner.
For something a little more upscale (but still boneless), chicken picatta. Either buying the thin-cut breasts or pounding them out ensures even cooking. As long as you don't overcook and you use a decent wine, it couldn't be simpler....
Chicken is very simple, you can go almost anywhere with a few simple ingredients. One of my favorite ways to prepare chicken (in that it's cheap and quick) is based on Chef Thomas Keller's recipe. I take a whole chicken, dry it with paper towels, season with some thyme, cracked pepper and a very generous amount of salt on the skin. Beneath the skin, I tuck a few sprigs of thyme. Then I roast for about an hour at 450 without touching it. Simple, crispy roast chicken. While the chicken cooks, I can boil potatoes for an easy mash. With any pan drippings I make gravy (otherwise I make it from stock). While I'm whipping up the gravy, I roast zucchini and carrots in the oven for a veg. Summery, easy and perfect.
I will give the 100th suggestion for roast chicken as well. My favorite is the Zuni Cafe recipe (the bread salad is a must). If you don't want to do a whole chicken, my second suggestion would be Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic. Ina Garten's recipe is great (serve it with her moroccan couscous):
Although many may suggest Zuni (and for good reason) it is a relationship versus a recipe. Try to keep it simple (thereby hopefully a two KISS date).
Jfood loves 40-clove chicken (he likes the James Beard version) and do not be afraid of the garlic ruining anything. Roasted garlic turns very sweet versus the "smelly" effect many associate with these little cloves. Although jfood would love a nice risotto with this, keeping in line with the KISS theory (and the nonadventurous nature), mashed potatoes feels right for mr right. Some garlic sauce from the bird on top, some crusty bread, maybe a salad on the side and some vino, and it sounds like a winner.
good luck with the evening
Ha- I never recognized the extra steps in the Zuni cooking method! I guess the technique I actually use from the recipe is the pre-seasoning. Other than that, I always just chucked it in the oven and let it go. Reaching into a hot oven to flip a whole bird- yeah, I might want to avoid that on date night too....:)
If you're referring to the flavors being complicated....I truly mean this as a respectful question, but really? To me, it seems like a pretty straightforward (but pretty darn tasty) roasted chicken with stuffing cooked on the side. I'm not jockeying for my suggestion to be taken- just want to make sure that my "simplicity gauge" is in balance for when I cook to cater to the non-adventurous palate.....
taste is simple, process is the questionable aspect of the zuni-bird. OP sounded young (jfood has a 22-year old little jfood) and the turn the bird with 500 degrees blasting in her face on her first at-home cooking adventure is something jfood would try to steer little jfood away from.
sorry for the confusion