What’s Cookin’: Classic chicken

It’s time to start preparing heartier meals this winter.

Winner, winner, chicken dinner: Everyone will feel like a winner after trying these chicken-based recipes.

By Donna Zitter Bordelon

As winter approaches, appetites frequently increase. Goodbye summer salads, and hello more substantial dinners. One-pot or one-pan dinners are tasty whole meals that are easy to put together, and easy to clean up afterward.

Enter the chicken. The following chicken dinners are a sure bet for a great meal. “Winner, winner, chicken dinner!” I was surprised to learn that this phrase actually originated in Las Vegas in the 1970s. Betting $2 and winning meant that you could get the casino’s $1.79 chicken dinner special — three pieces of chicken and a vegetable side, and still have a few pennies to spare.

Hit the jackpot with one of these chicken dinners.

OVEN-ROASTED CHICKEN AND POTATOES

3½ lbs. chicken pieces (thighs or legs)

4 cloves garlic, minced

¼ cup olive oil

1 Tbsp. grated orange rind

1 Tbsp. dried thyme

1 Tbsp. dried oregano

2 tsp. dried rosemary, crumbled

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. coarsely ground black pepper

4 medium-size baking potatoes (about 1½ lbs.), unpeeled and cut lengthwise into eighths

Preheat oven to 425 degrees

Place chicken in a single layer in a large, shallow roasting pan.

In a large bowl, put the garlic, oil, orange rind, thyme, oregano, rosemary, salt and pepper. Brush half of this garlic, oil and seasoning mixture over the chicken.

Add the cut potatoes to the large bowl. Toss to coat potatoes evenly with the garlic, oil and seasoning mixture.

Arrange the potatoes around the chicken in the roasting pan.

Bake for 50 minutes or until the potatoes are fork tender, and the chicken is no longer pink near the bone.

SPANISH CHICKEN WITH RICE

2½ lbs. chicken pieces (breasts, thighs or legs), skinless

2 Tbsp. canola oil

2 cups long grain rice, uncooked

1 large onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

3 cups chicken broth

1 can stewed tomatoes (16 oz.)

1 cup chunky salsa

½ tsp. turmeric

1 package frozen peas (10 oz.)

¾ cup green olives with pimientos, sliced

In a large skillet, brown chicken in the oil. Remove chicken. Set aside.

Add the rice and onion to the skillet and saute, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Add garlic and saute 1 minute more.

Add the chicken broth, stewed tomatoes, salsa and turmeric, and bring to a boil.

Return the chicken to the skillet and stir in the remaining ingredients.

Turn down heat and simmer for 25 minutes.

FETTUCCINE WITH CHICKEN, SPINACH AND MUSHROOMS

3/4 lb. fettuccine noodles

2 Tbsp. canola oil, divided

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1–1¼ lb.), cut into ¼-inch pieces

1 tsp. salt, divided

1/8 tsp. pepper, divided

8 oz. fresh mushrooms, sliced

10 oz. fresh spinach, washed and dried

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp. grated orange zest

1/4 cup heavy cream or half and half

1/2 cup parmesan cheese

1/8 tsp. crushed red pepper

Extra parmesan cheese

While you are making the chicken and vegetable sauce, bring a pot of water to boil, and cook the pasta until just done — al dente.

In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat.

Add the chicken pieces and season lightly with salt and pepper.

Cook and stir about 3 minutes until chicken is just cooked. Remove chicken, and set aside.

Using the same pan, add the remaining oil, the garlic and the mushrooms.

Cook and stir for about 2 minutes.

Add the spinach. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Stir and allow spinach to wilt, about 2 minutes.

Add the orange zest and stir.

Add the cream or half and half. Bring just to a boil, and stir.

Turn down the heat, add the pasta, and stir to mix well.

Turn off the heat, and sprinkle with crushed red pepper.

Stir to incorporate, and serve.

Pass the parmesan at the table.

Eat well, live long, enjoy!

Don’t forget:

Send in your favorite recipe for a chance to win a $100 ShopRite gift card. Mail your recipe to Readers’ Recipes, 2 Executive Campus, Suite 400, Cherry Hill, NJ 08002. Or email your recipe to WhatscookinNEPhilly@gmail.com. Please include name, address and telephone number.