Weeknight Cooking

The Always-Juicy Chicken Recipe to Keep in Your Back Pocket

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December  4, 2017

We're always on the hunt for back-pocket holiday hosting tips to make this time of year more about celebrating and less about stressing. We've partnered with If You Care to bring you recipes and techniques so that you're halfway to dinner—even if guests are on their way.

During the holiday season, everything takes on a more festive air—including weeknight cooking. When I entertain, whether casually or a tad more formally, I’m always on the hunt for those rare dishes that 1. are sure to please a crowd, 2. aren’t going to add stress to my life, and 3. feel celebratory without requiring a huge amount of work. Chicken is a go-to for me in these cases, and I recently realized that a gem of a technique for roasted chicken was right at my fingertips: Kukla’s herbed chicken thighs in a paper bag.

We've got a bag of tricks for the holidays, and it's made of parchment. Photo by Rocky Luten

Kukla’s recipe taught me the way to the most juicy, herbed chicken: marinating the chicken with lots and lots of herbs, then roasting it in a parchment bag so that the chicken steam-roasts its way to tenderness. Cooking in a parchment bag is similar to cooking en papillote with parchment or in a foil packet—but with no crimping or packet-assembly required. It’s a recipe loved by many Food52 community members, and for good reason: the chicken is virtually hands-off in preparation and among the most fragrant I’ve ever roasted (and I've roasted lots of chickens).

By tinkering with Kukla's ideas, this steam-roasting technique can easily be applied to a whole chicken, which is a nice way to go—guests can choose between white and dark meat. By letting the chicken first take a gentle-steam bath inside the parchment bag, and then cutting the bag to expose the chicken for the rest of its roast, you get the best of both worlds: tender chicken flavored through and through with fresh herbs (with no worry about burnt herbs!) and lightly browned skin. This technique won’t give you the deeply bronzed, crispy skin of many a roast chicken, but there’s not a simpler, more reliable route to a gorgeously juicy, fragrant bird.

It’s a great recipe to have in your holiday entertaining playbook. Since the chicken can be marinated up to a day in advance and then bagged and put in the oven whenever you’re ready, it’s a no-stress, low-prep entertaining situation, with minimal mess or clean-up. A parchment roasting bag from If You Care slips over a whole chicken, and it’s easy to fold and close. (A medium-sized bag is good for most chickens; if you're thinking about doing this with a larger bird, go for a larger bag.)

Below I’ve included ideas for dinner party-worthy side dishes, organized in terms of what dishes can be roasted alongside the chicken, what can be made stovetop, and what can be done in advance—plus some options for leftovers, if you’re lucky enough to have any. All of these dishes pair well with this herbed chicken and are easy to pull off, which means that you can spend your time mingling with guests instead of tethered to the stove, basking in the pleasure of holiday entertaining.


Sides To Roast Alongside the Chicken

Any of these sides can roast alongside the chicken in a 400°F oven—just look at their baking times to know when to start them relative to the chicken.


Sides To Make Stovetop

These sides can be made on the stovetop while the chicken is roasting, and they’ll hold well covered with foil.


Sides To Assemble in Advance

These sides can be assembled fully in advance, no reheating required.


Putting Leftover Chicken to Good Use

If you have leftover chicken, lucky you! These recipes are great ways to repurpose the leftovers.

We're always on the hunt for back-pocket holiday hosting tips to make this time of year more about celebrating and less about stressing. We've partnered with If You Care to bring you recipes and techniques so that you're halfway to dinner—even if guests are on their way.

Order now

A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).

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3 Comments

asongsmith December 4, 2017
Were's the recipe?
 
Ali S. December 4, 2017
Here you go: https://food52.com/recipes/74148-herb-roasted-chicken-a-la-kukla
 
Author Comment
EmilyC December 4, 2017
The hyperlink is in the article but here's the direct link! https://food52.com/recipes/74148-herb-roasted-chicken-a-la-kukla