I believe that it’s important to have at least one really good chicken recipe in your array of kitchen skills. It needs to be one that you know from heart and can make no matter where you’re cooking or how limited the assortment of available tools. It’s even better if it’s a dish that can be made with easily available ingredients that are unaffected by the changes in season.
Beyond those requirements, the actual chicken dish can be just about anything. The ability to truss a whole chicken and roast it until its skin browns and crackles beautifully certainly counts. A Pyrex pan of chicken legs, painted with honey-mustard dressing and baked until tender is always a good option. I’ve even known people to employ a slow cooker in their quest for the ideal chicken recipe.
Recently, in my ongoing search for the consummate chicken dish, I spotted Alton Brown’s recipe for 40 Cloves and a Chicken. I was fairly certain it would be love at first bite. He has you brown the chicken, top it with fresh thyme and an obscene number of garlic cloves (yes, 40) and bake until the meat is tender and the garlic nearly melts into the pan juices. Oh, yes.