Chicken Parts, 9 Ways
These recipes apply only to bone-in chicken parts, something that no longer goes without saying in a world obsessed with boneless breast. To serve four, start with a 3- to 4-pound cut-up whole chicken or 2 or more pounds of parts. Bone-in breasts remain pretty juicy when cooked in the following recipes, but if you’re worried that they’ll dry out, just pull them off the heat a few minutes before the dark meat is done. Judge the doneness with an instant-read thermometer (breasts and thighs should fall somewhere in the range of 155–165°F) or visually: when the juices run consistently clear (not pink), the meat is done.
As always, the first recipe in each category is the main recipe (with a description of the cooking technique), and the two that follow are variations.
1. Greek Style
Heat the oven to 450°F. Make a paste of 3 tablespoons minced garlic, 2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano, the grated zest of 1 lemon, and olive oil; slide your fingers underneath the skin of the breast to loosen it from the meat; slide the paste underneath the skin. Drizzle the chicken with oil, scatter cherry tomatoes and black olives around, and roast, skin side up, basting occasionally with pan drippings, until the juices run clear, about 30 minutes. Sprinkle with feta and oregano.
2. Garlic, Rosemary and Lemon
Substitute rosemary for the oregano. Cut a lemon or two into quarters and roast alongside the chicken. Omit the tomatoes, olives, and feta. Garnish: minced fresh rosemary or parsley.
3. Chinese Style
Substitute minced fresh ginger and a sprinkle of Chinese five-spice powder for the oregano, and orange zest for the lemon. Omit the tomatoes, olives, and feta.
4. Butter and Tarragon
Use butter to brown the chicken well in a large skillet. Cover and cook over medium-low heat, turning occasionally, until the internal temperature is 155–165°F, or the juices run clear, 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer to a platter; add 3 tablespoons minced shallots and 1 ⁄ 2 cup white wine or chicken stock. Reduce the sauce over medium-high heat; add 1 or 2 tablespoons chopped tarragon, pour the sauce over the chicken, and serve.
5. Olives, Tomatoes, and Parsley
Use olive oil instead of butter. Substitute 1 ⁄ 2 cup chopped olives, 1 cup chopped ripe tomatoes, and 1 tablespoon capers for the shallots, and parsley for the tarragon.
6. Leeks and Mustard
About 5 minutes before you remove the chicken, add 12 ounces thinly sliced leeks to the pan; leave the leeks when you remove the chicken. Add 1 tablespoon of mustard and a squeeze of lemon juice to the pan along with the wine; if you like, stir in a splash of heavy cream before serving.
7. Chicken and Garlic Stew
Brown the chicken in a Dutch oven with olive oil. Add at least 2 heads of unpeeled garlic cloves, 1 ⁄ 2 cup chopped fresh parsley, and 1 ⁄ 2 cup white wine or chicken stock. Bring to a boil, then lower to a steady simmer. Cover and cook until the chicken and garlic are tender, about 45 minutes. Serve, spreading the garlic onto crusty bread. Garnish: chopped fresh parsley.
8. With Clams
Reduce the garlic to 3 cloves and mince them; add a pinch of hot red chile flakes and lemon zest with the garlic, parsley, and wine. When the chicken is nearly tender, add about 2 dozen littleneck or cherrystone clams. Raise the heat to medium, cover, and cook until the clams open, about 10 minutes. Garnish: more parsley.
9. With Mushrooms and Peas
Reduce the garlic to 6 cloves and peel them. Omit the parsley; add 8 ounces roughly chopped button mushrooms with the garlic and wine. When the chicken is tender, add 1 cup fresh or frozen peas and 2 tablespoons butter. Cover, and cook until the peas are tender or heated through.