We eat a lot of poultry. I’ve mentioned before my fear of sprouting feathers and clucking.
There was recently a Twitter discussion about eating chicken-and Sandra of the Gluten Free Optimist (aka Maryland Celiac) mentioned her need for more ideas for baked chicken. And a dislike of Italian Dressing, BBQ, sour cream, and mushrooms. (Did I get them all? I hope so!)
So consider this the baked-chicken-with-none-of-those-ingredients “not really a recipe.”
When it comes to baking (or roasting) chicken, there are 3 basic methods I use. The first is marinades, the second rubs, and the third just seasoning prior to tossing them in the oven. I generally use boneless skinless chicken breast, as I enjoy the lean protein and ease. I am also very fortunate to have a local market where I can get boneless skinless chicken breasts in a family pack size for $1.49/lb. You could of course always use skinless boneless chicken thighs as well, and I have a suggestion for bone-in and skin on chicken breast at the end of this post.
Marinades are time intensive, but not labor intensive. It does require a bit of pre-planning to allow to meat enough time to sit in the marinade, get tenderized and absorb all that flavor. Allow at least an hour to marinade, several hours would be better. I have even (accidentally) allowed chicken to marinade for almost 24 hours, and it was OK. I would not recommend that though, as the chicken can get very mushy and kind of gross as the acids in the marinade break it down more than you want it to. I tend to use zip-top plastic bags to make the marinade, then add the chicken and squish it all around so it is evenly distributed. Toss it back in the fridge and let it do it’s thing!
Ideas for marinades
(For all of these, you can add about 1/4 cup of olive or canola oil to the below combinations)
- Lemon or lime juice, fresh peeled and cracked garlic cloves, cracked black pepper, sea salt
- Red wine vinegar, oregano, garlic powder, sea salt
- Apple cider vinegar, fresh chopped garlic, sea salt
You get the basic idea. You want something acidic (citrus juice, vinegar), some herbs/spices, and then a bit of oil. The only vinegar I don’t use with chicken is regular balsamic-because it makes the chicken an unappealing brown color. (although it tastes great.) I have used white balsamic which is very tasty. You can see that you can mix and match these to fit whatever you have on hand. If you have fresh herbs you can use those also. My favorite is lemon juice, garlic, salt/pepper, and chopped fresh rosemary and thyme. Very often I don’t have rosemary and thyme fresh, so I’ll use dried.
Rubs are exactly as it sounds-a spice mixture that you rub onto the chicken and let it infuse flavor. You can take any of
the ingredients you would use in a marinade (just use a tiny bit of the acid and the oil-just enough to make a paste) and chop/process the solids very small, and use that as a rub. If you can, allow these to sit about 10-15 minutes prior to cooking. Not as time intensive as a marinade.
Other ideas for rubs
- Cumin, cayenne, and 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce (these are found canned, usually in the ethnic food section-a great smoky flavor)
- Cinnamon and cayenne. Sounds bizarre, I know-but it’s really, really good. You can also add a tiny bit of brown sugar.
- Onion and garlic powder, sea salt, black pepper
- Tarragon, garlic, lemon zest
This is the simplest-just pull out the jar/can, sprinkle, flip, sprinkle, and put into the oven. Here are a few I like:
(Remember-always check labels for hidden gluten in case a manufacturer changes their formula.)
- Crazy Jane’s Mixed Up Salt
- Lemon pepper
- Lime pepper
- Creole seasoning
- Greek seasoning
- Old Bay
- Frank’s Red Hot Buffalo Wing Sauce-not quite a seasoning, but just as easy. Cover the chicken with sauce before cooking-viola! Healthier not-wings 🙂
If you are using skin-on versions, just make a slit in the skin, and put the rub mixture/seasonings inside the skin as well as on the outside. Really rub it in well, and make sure to cover as much surface area as you can. It gives a really nice flavor.
Hopefully this helped give you a few ideas for chicken.
Share your favorite way to prepare the bird of honor in the comments below! You can never have too many ways to cook chicken….