Monday, February 17, 2014

One Great . . . weeknight chicken dish

I was reading a cookbook the other day when I saw a recipe described as "perfect for a weeknight." The problem? It called for marinating something for 4 hours. That's only perfect for a weeknight if you work at home and can stop by the kitchen after lunch.  

The cookbook "Keepers," by Kathy Brennan and Caroline Campion (Rodale, 2013) is more my speed. Written by two magazine editors (Saveur, Gourmet and Food Arts for Brennan, Glamour, Saveur, Good Housekeeping and GQ for Campion), the idea is that they only included recipes that they both agreed are keepers.

This chicken is a great example: You toss chicken pieces and some easy ingredients in a bag in the morning before you leave for work, then refrigerate it for 8 to 12 hours. The chicken pieces pick up a lot of flavor and color from the marinade and they bake in 30 minutes with very little fuss or tending when you get home.

Yes, a full tablespoon of smoked paprika is correct. That's part of what gives plenty of flavor to a very simple dish. The leftovers make good lunch fare, too.

Morning Chicken 

From "Keepers: Two Home Cooks Share Their Tried-And-True Weeknight Recipes and the Secrets to Happiness in the Kitchen," by Kathy Brennan and Carolina Campion (Rodale, 2013).

1 tablespoon Dijon or whole-grain mustard
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
2 cloves garlic, smashed
3/4 teaspoon dried thyme
Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 (3 1/2- to 4-pound) chicken, cut in 8 pieces, or 3 1/2 pound chicken parts
Salt and pepper

PLACE a resealable plastic bag in a bowl to hold it steady. Add the mustard, paprika, garlic, thyme, lemon zest and juice and olive oil. Add the chicken pieces and close the bag, squeezing out air. Squish the bag around to coat the chicken pieces with the marinade. Refrigerate 8 to 12 hours. (Turn the bag once or twice if you're around to do it.)

COVER a baking sheet with aluminum foil for easier cleanup. Heat oven to 450 degrees with rack in the center position. Remove the chicken pieces from the bag, letting any excess marinade drip off, and place skin-side down on the baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 20 minutes. Turn pieces and continue to roast until golden-brown and juices run clear, about 10 minutes. (Chicken wings will cook faster, in about 20 minutes total.)

YIELD: 4 servings.