Chicken for Dinner, Again? How to Make That Bird Taste Brand New

Don't settle for boring chicken (again) for dinner tonight! Food52's Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs show you how to keep it interesting

When anything is for dinner at least once a week, it's easy to grow tired of it. Luckily, chicken is the ultimate blank slate: it's the dinner you can play with, have fun with. Roast it, braise it, poach it, grill it; top it with herbs or condiments, sink it in soups and in stews. Here are our tips for making chicken for dinner something to look forward to on a weeknight.

1. Use Simple -- Homemade! -- Condiments

1. Use simple -- homemade! -- condiments.

Chicken Cutlets Grilled in Charmoula with Quick-Cured Lemon Confit (photo by James Ransom)

Go beyond ketchup, mustard, barbecue sauce and mayo. You can make bright, healthy condiments -- like salsa verde or this quick-cured lemon confit -- in mere minutes. Use them as marinades for grilled or roasted chicken, dollop them on top of poached chicken -- and then save the leftovers for fish or vegetables later in the week.

Pressed for time? A good-quality store-bought pesto can be a saving grace; slather it onto your chicken before grilling or roasting it, and then use it to top your bird when it's done cooking. If you're aching for spice, store-bought harissa -- a sweet and spicy Middle Eastern condiment -- will do the trick.

2. Roast a Chicken One Day and Use the Leftovers for Another Dinner

2. Roast a chicken one day and use the leftovers for another dinner.

Lemon-Chicken & Pepe Soup (photo by James Ransom)

We can't deny the beauty of a simple roast chicken, crisp and juicy just out of the oven. But you can do better than simply reheating the leftovers. To make your chicken feel new again, shred it and use it in bright, springy soups or salads. Pile slices of it onto bread with your sandwich fixings of choice. Use chunks of it in rice dishes, casseroles, pastas, or even in omelettes! Think of it as an ingredient -- not a leftover.

3. Try Rogue Cooking Methods

3. Try rogue cooking methods, like roasting under a brick.

Chicken Under a Brick with Pickled Peppers (photo by Sarah Shatz)

Cooking chicken the same way every week can get boring. When you feel adventurous, try a new technique that sounds weird, different, even a little daunting -- like roasting chicken under a brick (or if you're brick-less, a heavy pan). Weighing down the chicken gives it super-crispy skin -- and adds a bit of fun to the dinner routine.

Got a slow-cooker? Instead of using it for large, tough cuts of meat, braise your chicken in it. When you get home from work, dinner wil lbe ready: a beautiful sight on a weeknight!

4. Switch Up the Cuts

Breasts, thighs, wings, legs: take advantage of the chicken’s many parts, and the cooking methods that go best with them. Grill those breasts -- they'll be finished quickly and stay juicy. Braise those thighs -- the meat will fall off the bone. Fry those wings (because chicken wings are the best finger food). Take inspiration from the dishes you love -- the herbs, the spices, the sauces -- and use them with another cut of meat. Each dish will feel and taste wholly different, and you'll use the whole bird while you're at it!

5. Treat Yourself

Sure, a simple chicken breast can feel virtuous. But why not, as a treat, wrap it in breadcrumbs and Parmesan? Why not sear until it gets brown and crispy? Why not soak it in buttermilk, dredge it in flour and fry it up? Why not cut it into strips or nuggets, coat the pieces in corn flakes, bake and serve with spicy ketchup or tangy mango chutney? Things that feel special -- and indulgent -- are never boring. Chicken included.

Get More Chicken Recipes from Food52:
Chicken Salad with Cornichons and Radishes
Tuxedo Chili
7 Dressed-Up Chicken Breasts

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