Easy, delicious weeknight chicken dinners

Published 6:46 pm Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Grilled Goat Cheese and Spinach Stuffed Spatchcock Chicken

By Janet Tharpe
Guest Columnist

I have a confession: I love chicken. Cooking with it, eating it and coming up with creative recipes for it are all a joy for us in the Test Kitchen at www.justapinch.com. Not only is it fairly inexpensive, but the meat is so versatile that you can season and cook it to suit your mood du jour!

Happily, every once in awhile I’m able to sit down and catch you up on all the latest yummy chicken bites that you all have been sharing with us. From kooky to classic, there’s never a shortage of good ideas for this most humble (and delicious) of birds.

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Take, for example, Judy Armstrong’s Spatchcock Chicken recipe. Filled with goat cheese, spinach and sun-dried tomatoes, this chicken recipe is prepared in the true spatchcock style — a new one for this cook.

As I quickly learned from Judy, this is a simple technique that has a huge pay-off. The deceivingly simple process involves splaying the bird open and flattening it out before cooking. Grilling is Judy’s cooking method of choice.

“This dish presents beautifully for a special dinner for family and friends,” she said. “Spatchcocking a chicken is so much easier than it sounds.” Further adding to the recipe’s appeal is the rich, bold stuffing that is carefully tucked under the bird’s skin prior to cooking. “The stuffing keeps the grilled chicken moist and adds so much extra flavor.”

Equally bold in flavor are Dana Moore’s Baked Chicken and Dumplin’s.

“I wanted chicken and dumplings for supper, but I didn’t want to go through the hassle of making the dough for the dumplings,” she explained. “And I also wanted to be able to put it in the oven. So, I came up with this.”

The mixture of buttery chicken, creamy soup, sour cream and a simple combo of milk and flour transform into a savory serving of comfort on a plate. Part casserole, part traditional chicken and dumplings, this is a wonderfully easy way to whip staple ingredients into something special for a last minute dinner. Now, who doesn’t love that?

But wait, there’s more!

“Do you remember ‘hobo packs’ from your growing-up years?” asks Pittsburgh’s Lynn Zak. Inspired by those little packs of grilled goodies wrapped in aluminum foil, Lynn has deftly developed her delicious recipe for Italian Chicken Packages.

“This is the same idea [as hobo packs], only with chicken instead of hamburger meat. The basil and olive oil give these packs a distinctive Italian flair.”

Indeed they do. Each beautiful piece of chicken is wrapped in the flavors of Italy and positively oozing cheesy deliciousness. Opening the steaming foil packets is akin to unwrapping a gift at the dinner table. Try it at your next dinner party for an unexpected “wow” moment.

So simple yet so delicious, these chicken recipes from talented home cooks perfectly represent what Just A Pinch Recipes is all about. Not every meal has to cost a lot of money or take hours to prepare in order to be tasty. Bringing the family together over a home-cooked meal can be as simple as adding in a dash of TLC to quality ingredients that you already have on hand.

Viva la chicken!

Janet Tharpe writes for the Just a Pinch Recipe Club at justapinch.com, where you can find these recipes and many others that include chicken.