The Only Chicken You Need to Make
How long does it take you to cook dinner? One of the biggest complaints I get from singles or working professionals about cooking is how long it takes to make a meal.
I mean, I don’t know what the problem is. My favorite thing to do after working all day is chop, boil, sweat, bake, and wait an hour for the chicken to cook.
And this from someone who enjoys cooking.
Try This Instead
One hack that shaves down my dinner preparation is cooking most of our protein in advance. This is especially handy for chicken. There are pros and cons to this. On the one hand, you don’t get all the spicy, saucy flavors of your dish soaked into the fibers (or whatever) of the meat. On the other hand, you have a life because you aren’t in the kitchen all day.
Cooking some poultry ahead of time takes my dinner prep from 1-1.5 hours to 15 minutes. And our food tastes great.
My philosophy is, if I want to eat healthy and frugally, it has to be simple, flavorful, and time effective. Since I love cooking, periodically I turn on some music, pour a glass of kombucha (or whatever), and enter foodie paradise. However, doing that daily is neither practical nor fun, so I need a balance.
This is my balance.
Use it for Everything
We use this recipe for EVERYTHING – salad, sandwiches, tacos, on rice or pizza, in pasta or soup, alongside potatoes or vegetables. You can use this seasoning for any cut – breasts, thigh, wings, whole – any cooking method – oven, grill, crockpot, or pan-fried – and almost any flavor-style – American, Mexican, Greek, Italian, Indian, Chinese, and other countries unfortunately lumped into these delicious flavor-ethnicity stereotypes.
This chicken also freezes well. When I make a batch, I refrigerate what we’ll eat the next few days. Then I toss the rest in a plastic container or freezer bag for later. Boom. Poultry is done for the month.
- Chicken (any cut works - whole, thigh, breast, drumstick, bone-in or boneless)
- Garlic powder (to taste)
- Paprika (to taste) (optional, but WORTH IT)
- Salt (to taste)
- Pepper (to taste)
Whatever your cut of poultry, sprinkle with seasoning. If you sprinkle the top and bottom of the meat, the flavor will be even better, but it's not necessary.
BAKE: Place in a baking dish with a splash of water. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 40-60 minutes. Check for doneness - cooking times vary for different cuts. I don't recommend this method for a whole chicken, but other cuts handle it perfectly.
GRILL: Cook over direct heat several minutes each side, flipping once. If using indirect heat, cook, covered, for 30-50 minutes, flipping occasionally. Check for doneness (see notes).
CROCKPOT: Place in crockpot with a splash of water. Cook on low for 6 hours or on high for 3-4 hours. Check to ensure meat is cooked through. This method works great for a whole chicken.
After chicken cools slightly, serve with anything - on a salad, in tacos or a pita, chop for soup, pasta, nachos, or casserole. Or serve it with barbecue sauce or gravy alongside potatoes and veggies.
FREEZE: Chop or shred chicken and place in a freezer bag (squeeze the extra air out) or pack somewhat snugly in a plastic container. Label and toss in the freezer. When ready to use, thaw in the fridge overnight.
HOW TO KNOW IF YOUR CHICKEN IS DONE: Are you as freaked out about raw meat as me? The trick is to check the juices. With a knife and fork, cut into the thickest part of the chicken and gently press the meat. If the meat is done, the juices coming from it will look clear. If they look pink, your bird needs to keep cooking. I found these pictures and videos helpful.