These one-pot chicken recipes take just an hour to prepare. They’re designed to be easy and inexpensive — under $20 — and they make your house smell bewitched as they cook. That’s important! Dress them up with side dishes, and they’re perfect for a simple, festive dinner party.
I recommend buying a whole chicken and cutting it up yourself. A local, organic chicken is best, but if you’re on a very tight budget, you can use the most inexpensive kind. The dishes will be just as comforting. Sauté the livers and hearts and eat them as a little snack while you cook. Jacques Pépin calls that the chef’s treat. (I share them with the dog.) If there are any leftovers, you can throw them in a pot with the bones and make a second stock, or a potluck soup.
All four recipes start with a four-pound chicken cut into 10 pieces — two legs, two thighs, two whole wings, and four breast pieces. Each dish is cooked in one heavy casserole pan or Dutch oven following the same basic technique, and each feeds from four to six people.
1. Season the chicken with salt, ground coriander and cayenne pepper to taste.
2. Heat the oil in a heavy casserole. Brown the chicken nicely on all sides, remove and reserve on a plate.
3. Add the celery, onion, ginger and garlic to the pan, and wilt over medium-high heat for two minutes.
4. Add the tomatoes, sweet potatoes and chicken. Break up the tomatoes with a wooden spoon. Add water and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook gently for 45 minutes or until the chicken is done. If using the okra, add it and cook for an additional five minutes.
5. Remove the chicken and vegetables and arrange on a deep serving platter. Skim any grease from the sauce. Add the peanut butter and whisk in well to incorporate. Cook one minute to bind, then pour the sauce over the chicken.
Something green? Add a bright Mediterranean-flavored salad with a lemony dressing, and maybe couscous on the side.
Wine: A New York Riesling or Gewurztraminer would be perfectly matched with this nutty, perfumy dish.
1. Season the chicken with the lime juice, salt and pepper.
2. Heat the oil in a heavy casserole. Brown the chicken nicely, remove and reserve.
3. Add the onions, jalapeno and peppers. Cook until wilted but not brown. Add the garlic and cook another minute.
4. Add the tomatoes and squash. Bring to a boil.
5. Put the chicken back in the casserole, then add the cream and stir everything together. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low.
6. Fold in the cilantro. Cover and let the chicken gently simmer for 30-40 minutes, until done. If it gets dry, add a little water. Serve over white rice.
Something green? This goes well with a salad of celery, onions, tomatoes, and peppers, with a red wine vinegar dressing to counteract the heaviness of the dish.
Wine: A big, fat Chardonnay will hold up well against all the richness.
1. In a heavy casserole, sauté the chicken in the oil until golden, then remove and reserve.
2. Add the onions, crushed pepper, shallots, garlic, carrot, bell pepper and curry powder. Sauté, stirring, until everything is wilted and coated with curry. Add the potatoes and toss to coat.
3. Add all remaining ingredients except the herbs. Bring to a boil.
4. Reduce heat to a gentle simmer and cook covered for 35-40 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Serve in bowls, garnished with cilantro, mint, and scallions.
Something green? You could serve sliced cucumbers, hot chili sauce, and lime wedges on the side.
Wine: A crisp Pilsner beer is best with this, but if you really want wine, choose something tart and bright, like a Sauvignon Blanc or Seyval Blanc.
1. Season the chicken pieces well with the adobo. In a heavy casserole, heat the oil to medium hot. Brown the chicken nicely on all sides, remove and reserve.
2. Make the sofrito. Roughly chop the cilantro, saving six nice sprigs for garnish. Put the cilantro, half the bell pepper, the onion and garlic in a food processor and pulse, then let the machine run to make a fine, pesto-like grind.
3. Put the casserole back over medium-high heat. Add the sofrito and sauté for three minutes to release its aroma. Do not brown it. Add the rice and stir to coat.
4. Add the chicken and all remaining ingredients. Bring to the boil. Cover snugly and set the heat to low. Allow to cook undisturbed for 20 minutes.
5. Turn off the heat and allow the casserole to stand covered for five minutes before serving.
Something green? Cooked kale or Swiss chard would go well.
Wine: A light red like a Sangiovese Chianti-style wine or a southern French Grenache.
Note: To make this even simpler, you can substitute premade sofrito, which is usually in a supermarket’s Goya food section. It has preservatives and it’s salty, but it captures the flavor.
Yummy leftovers: For one more easy recipe (Orlando’s take on Chicken Cacciatore),