You can turn to your old favorite roast, but by now the emphasis might be on “old.” Sometimes it’s important to add a new dish – or maybe a cookbook worth of recipes for chicken. Diana Henry’s A Bird in the Hand: Chicken recipes for every day and every mood (Mitchell Beazley 2016) is a your new go-to best friend for all things chicken. Don’t think of one of those 1,001 recipe books at the cashier of your supermarket – from the cover photograph by Laura Edwards, this is a stylish, smart guide full of international recipes, British standards, and inventive dishes that all feature chicken.
Since the weather is heating up and you might want to start with a chapter called Chooks, Shoots, and Leaves: Chicken Salads (we suppose in reference to the wonderfully funny and useful grammar guide: Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss). These are recipes for light or filling lunches, starters for dinner, or picnics. With ripe cherries already in the market, try Salad of Chicken, Cherries, and Watercress with Creamy Tarragon Dressing (p. 110) that Diana calls a “glorious, summery, elegant salad.”
For something more substantial, try South American inspired Warm Salad of Chipotle-grilled chicken, Chorizo, and Quinoa with Lime Crème Fraiche (p. 114) that sparkles with color and flavor in the photo.
Or travel to Vietnam for lunch of Palm Sugar-Grilled Chicken with Radishes, Cucumber and Vermicelli Rice Noodles (p. 118) or explore the Middle East with Warm Salad of Grilled Chicken, Freekeh, Preserved Lemons, Sour Cherries, and Mint (p. 121). The smokey freekeh will play off the chicken, while the sour cherries will marry well with the lemons.
If you want to keep eating freekeh, then try Freekeh with Chili Fried-Chcicken, Cumin, and Cilantro-Roast Winter Vegetables, Tahini Dressing (p. 215) or Chicken and Freekeh Broth with Herbs (p. 217). If you are going on a picnic, then Chicken, Bacon, and Potato Salad with Buttermilk and Herb Dressing (p. 131) will beat the mayo-laden kind.
Diana has you covered. The chapter called Summer and Smoke: Grilled and barbecued is full of recipes for better chicken on the grill. Portuguese Chicken Piri Piri (p. 156) is Diana’s spicy version. Chicken with Grilled Leeks, Roast Bell Peppers, and Salbitxada (p. 158) includes the wonderful Catalan sauce of almonds, chilis, and tomatoes. Follow Diana around the Mediterranean and cook Barbecued Squab Chickens with Za’atar and Roast Pumpkin Houmous (p. 160), which includes a marvelous recipe for homemade za’atar you can keep on hand to eat with olive oil and bread.
Diana picks the absolute best ways to serve a great bird (no, she doesn’t include Turkish Gögüsü), so that you and your guests will never be bored with chicken again. These are recipes that deserve organic, free-range chickens. Splurge on the good stuff and follow Diana’s great recipes in A Bird in the Hand.