When I was a young reader, one of my favorite series of books was the one by Maud Hart Lovelace. It featured the characters Betsy, Tacy and Tib in the early days of the 20th century. The books started when the girls were just 5 years old and went straight through to the early days of their respective marriages.
In those later books, Tacy tells Betsy that she should have a “company meal” to avoid stress when having friends over for dinner. While much about this series might be seen as charmingly dated, I actually think that the concept of a well-practiced and delicious meal designed for sharing is a good one.
During the winter months, my personal company meal features chicken and ricotta meatballs, braised kale and some cheesy polenta. Either I ask my dinner companions to pick up something for dessert or I bake off some of the cookie dough I keep in my freezer.
It’s no secret that chicken breasts are perhaps the ultimate ingredient workhorses: They do double duty between lunch and dinner, afford themselves to easily reheated leftovers, stand up to nearly every cooking style and pair well with the flavors of countless cuisines. Because this culinary superstar is so versatile, it’s a blank canvas that can be customized to your family’s favorite tastes and whatever ingredients you happen to have on hand. But chicken breasts are also easy to deem bland, which is why it’s important to dress them up so they take on the bold flavors of marinades, spice rubs, sauces and toppings. Check out Food Network’s top-five chicken breast dishes below to find classic and creative picks from Guy, Ina, Bobby, Melissa and Rachael.
4. Lemon Chicken Breasts — With a five-star rating and more than 500 user reviews, Ina’s fail-proof chicken is baked in a succulent mixture of lemon juice, white wine and herbs. Perhaps best of all, it’s a good-for-you meal that can be ready to eat in only one hour.
Endlessly versatile and guaranteed to please even the pickiest eaters, chicken is a family-friendly staple. It’s a blank canvas that absorbs flavor quickly and easily, and it pairs well with myriad ingredients, especially the Italian-inspired tastes of tomato sauce and creamy mozzarella cheese, which, when combined, create classic chicken Parmesan. While you may be used to indulging in this hearty dish at local restaurants, it’s surely possible to replicate it in your own kitchen; the secret lies in the steps. Once your sauce is ready and the chicken golden brown and crispy, finish it with tomatoes and add a layer of cheese for over-the-top decadence. Check out Food Network’s best-five recipes for chicken Parmesan below to find top-rated takes on this timeless dinner from Bobby, Giada, Tyler and more chefs.
5. Chicken Parmesan — This better-for-you recipe uses lean boneless, skinless chicken breasts and whole-wheat breadcrumbs to achieve lighter results, but it maintains a traditional flavor thanks to the addition of tried-and-true marinara sauce and a duo of cheeses.
4. Skillet Chicken Parmesan — Save time — and effort when cleaning up — in the kitchen by preparing both the juicy chicken and garlic-laced tomato sauce in a single pan, then finish them under the broiler to melt the cheesy topping.
This week’s Most Popular Pin of the Week features one of Ree’s most-popular recipes on FoodNetwork.com: Chicken-Fried Steak with Gravy. This country classic is full of irresistible flavors and textures — it’s crunchy, meaty, a little spicy and smothered with peppery, creamy gravy. For a meal fit for the frontier, serve it with mashed potatoes
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.