I grew up in a family where we ate a home-cooked dinner together nearly every night. The food was a rotation of comforting things like roasted chicken legs, skillet chili and baked salmon, and my parents were always juggling grocery shopping and cooking duties in order to make it happen.
On the rare nights when the grocery and cooking system hit a snag, we’d go down the road to Best Teriyaki. They served an array of grilled and teriyaki-glazed meats alongside steamed rice and piles of sauteed cabbage and broccoli. It was affordable, relatively healthy and entirely delicious. My sister and I loved it.
Thanks to that early conditioning, on nights when I’m weary and want relief from the kitchen, I crave teriyaki chicken. Sadly, Philadelphia does not have the same profusion of teriyaki restaurants that my childhood home in Portland, Ore., did, so to satisfy this yearning, I have to make my own (though I do always wait for a night when the desire to cook has returned).
Why is it that so many comfort food classics start with a chicken in a pot? Chicken and dumplings is quite possibly the best cold-weather comfort food combination — thick, hearty stew married with fluffy, tender dumplings. There are two primary schools of thought when it comes to dumplings: dropped or rolled. Dumplings are essentially biscuits simmered in broth. The broth flavors the dumplings and the flour from the dumplings helps to thicken the stew.
My grandmother’s dumpling recipe was basically her recipe for biscuit dough rolled out and cut into strips. She started with a whole chicken and the entire process took a couple of hours; it was time-consuming. Frankly, when I am in need of comfort food, I often find my patience can wear a bit thin and I’m not into “time-consuming.”
Dumplings can be a bit tricky. It’s easy to wind up with heavy, pastelike dough balls. Ugh. There are recipes out there using canned biscuits, but with these easy-breezy dump-and-stir drop dumplings you can have wholesome, homemade, down-home comfort in a snap — made with ingredients you can pronounce. The secret is using warm milk. The heat expands and sets the flour so that the dumplings don’t as readily absorb the chicken stock in the stew.
Chicken got its crown as the darling of the dinner table for a reason. It’s lean, versatile and easy to cook, and it also lays the foundation for some of our favorite comforting recipes. Your mother’s chicken noodle fixes you up like nothing over the counter ever could, and a spicy Slow-Cooker Chicken Chili proves that comfort foods don’t have to be dull. Whether you’re cutting into a full chicken, nibbling it by the wing or taking in tender shreds with a spoon, these comforting chicken recipes are stick-to-your-ribs good.
This time, what’s comforting is what’s crunchy. Pat and Gina’s Oven-Fried Chicken skips the deep-fry dunk for a lighter dose of home-cooked goodness — without forsaking that vital crispy exterior. For another oven-baked main, Ina’s bright Lemon Chicken Breasts are boneless, but she keeps the skin intact for added flavor.
I have a bad habit of isolating myself this time of year. Part of it is practical. My busy work season is April through November, so during these chilly months, I like to hunker down and get some neglected projects and tasks accomplished. But after spending long stretches of time working from home, with only my husband to break the quiet, I find that I need a little socialization. That’s when I put the out the potluck call.
All it takes is a quick email to a bunch of friends and, suddenly, a communal meal comes together. Sometimes we plan to do a Sunday morning brunch. Other times it’s a basic shared meal on a Thursday evening. It’s as much about contact and community as it is about the food.
I do have a couple of guidelines when it comes to cooking for a potluck. If I’m hosting, I always like to provide a dish that contains both a protein and a vegetable. That way, if the only other things on the table are wine, bread and dessert, I still feel like it’s a fairly balanced meal.
Whether you’re entertaining a crowd, feeding your family or simply cooking for one, chicken is a go-to dinner option, thanks to its budget-friendly nature, ease of preparation and endless versatility. While grilled chicken may be a summertime favorite and fried chicken a comfort food classic, baked chicken is a family-friendly option year-round, no matter the occasion. It’s a blank canvas you can dress up with your favorite flavors or whatever ingredients you happen to have on hand, and since it’s cooked in the oven, much of the prep time is largely hands-off. Check out Food Network’s top-five baked chicken dishes below to find simple supper ideas from Rachael, Giada and more of your favorite chefs.
5. Italian Baked Chicken and Pastina — An all-in-one supper that comes together in less than an hour, Giada’s simple casserole is reminiscent of classic chicken Parmesan, as it features garlic-laced chicken tossed with noodles, plus tomatoes and creamy mozzarella cheese. Click the play button on the video after the jump to watch her make it.
4. Baked Chicken Breasts with Parmesan Crust — After dunking lean chicken breasts in a mustard-thyme mixture, Ted covers them with nutty Parmesan cheese and crunchy breadcrumbs, so they turn out moist on the inside with a crispy coating on the outside after baking.
Just this morning on a brand-new episode of The Kitchen, co-hosts Sunny Anderson and Geoffrey Zakarian showed off a duo of recipes for the humble chicken wing. This game-day favorite is a blank canvas for almost all ingredients, but often one of two tastes ends up reigning supreme: spicy or sweet. While both Geoffrey and Sunny deep-fried their wings until the skin was deliciously crispy and the meat juicy, Geoffrey opted for a slightly spicy rendition with piquillo peppers and cumin in his BBQ Chicken Wings with Blue Cheese Butter, and Sunny celebrated the sweeter flavor of pomegranate juice and hoisin sauce in her Sticky Onion Crunch Wings. Both finished wings proved deliciously sticky, but Geoffrey’s featured smoky notes while Sunny’s were subtly sweet without losing their savory bite.
Before you pick which team you’re rooting for in this year’s big game, FN Dish is challenging you to select which side you’re on in the great debate of sweet versus spicy chicken wings. Cast your vote below to tell us which flavor profile you prefer, then find party-ready recipes for both kinds of wings after the jump.
Just last week on an all-new episode of The Kitchen, the co-hosts took to FoodNetwork.com to find out which three ingredients were most searched by fans, and it turns out that when it comes to home cooking, simplicity and health reign supreme. Chicken, the ultimate family-friendly dinner, leads the way in searches, followed by good-for-you kale and quinoa, so Marcela combined these picks into one simple dish: Chile-Rubbed Chicken Breast with Kale, Quinoa and Brussels Sprouts Salad. Instead of featuring all three ingredients on one plate, FN Dish is breaking them down, showcasing three of the best recipes for each chicken, kale and quinoa on FoodNetwork.com; read on below to find must-try soups, salads and all-in-one suppers alike for these fan-favorite ingredients.
3. Chicken Piccata — Quickly coated in flour and cooked until tender, Giada’s easy chicken dinner is topped with a classically bold sauce of lemon and capers.
2. Easy Chicken Pot Pie — Thanks to Sunny’s shortcut of using store-bought dough as the pastry topping, this creamy, hearty pot pie can be on the table in less than 45 minutes.
1. Perfect Roast Chicken (pictured above) — Stick with Ina’s no-fail method of buttering the bird and roasting it with lemon and herbs to turn out a juicy, flavor-packed chicken every time.
The new year is full of uncertain futures and vast possibilities, and often with those come predictions for what will be especially hot topics and what will be old news over the next 12 months. Mere days into 2014, Jeff Mauro revealed on last week’s premiere episode of The Kitchen that among the year’s food trends, he thinks chicken thighs will gain huge popularity — and perhaps even replace the ever-present bacon.
While few eat an entire plate of bacon for supper, chicken thighs are indeed a meal in and of themselves, and, best of all, they’re simple to cook and easy on the wallet. Since thighs tend to be a bit fattier than chicken breasts, they’re far more flavorful, and can be prepared in any number of ways. Try roasting them with garlic, grilling them with fresh herbs and citrus, or braising them in a rich sauce. No matter how you cook chicken thighs, you can be sure you’ll end up with juicy, tender meat that the whole family will enjoy.
Check out a few of Food Network’s favorite chicken thigh recipes after the jump, then tell FN Dish in the comments below what food trends you’re hoping to see in 2014.
Just when you think you’ve exhausted every chicken dinner recipe available, this week’s Most Popular Pin of the Week is offering one more tried-and-true supper that’s sure to become a weeknight pick in your home. Made with just a handful of ingredients, Food Network Magazine’s Garlic-Roasted Chicken (pictured above) is a top-rated family favorite that’s ready to eat in only 30 quick minutes. This one-pan recipe calls for two heads of garlic, but don’t be worried about a pungent garlic flavor; the cloves are roasted whole inside their paper, which makes them become soft and sweet in the oven.
In the last few years, the bulk of my friends have become parents. It has been a joy to watch these dear people grow families and to see their once-tiny, squawking babes turn into little humans with preferences and desires.
One thing I’ve learned is that once kids enter the picture in your social circle, it becomes a whole lot harder to throw a traditional dinner party. And so, I stopped having them. Instead I started inviting people over for more casual gatherings and welcomed their children.
In the process, I’ve become a connoisseur of meals that allow you to cook once and satisfy everyone. Burrito bars are one good option, because they allow for mixing, matching and liberal applications of hot sauce for the parents.