Whether it’s roasted golden brown with crispy skin; spicy and juicy in a Cape Malay curry; or saucy, succulent and baked into a pie, chicken makes a great base around which to build a meal. In the USA, chicken – or rather, chicken skin – is the latest trend in New York restaurants, while closer to home, poultry meat remains our biggest single agricultural industry.
Herbs, spice and all things nice
Classic herbs that work well with chicken include sage, lemon balm, rosemary, basil and oregano. (Check out our guide to cooking with herbs for more ideas.) A squeeze of lemon and whole garlic gloves go down beautifully with a roast bird, while a little white wine will add depth to any saucy dish.
Choosing your chook
The Larousse Gastronomique (the gastromic bible) recommends choosing a slightly fatty bird for roasting to keep the meat succulent, and leaner birds for casseroling and poaching. If you can afford it, there’s no doubt that free-range chicken tastes better, plus you can rest easy knowing your chicken had a decent quality of life. To find a truly outstanding bird, check out our butchery listings for a supplier in your area.
Tired of the traditional roast? Try the Portuguese method (roasted with chopped tomatoes and onion, and deglazed with white wine); cook it in beer (fry your bird in butter with chopped shallots and then add beer, crème fraîche and a little cayenne pepper before roasting); or wrap it in bacon, with fresh tarragon inside, before popping it into the oven. For something sweet, boil up a cup of orange juice, a little white wine and some maple syrup, and use it to glaze your sautéed chicken.
Need a little more guidance? Here are 22 more chicken recipes. From pad Thai to coq au vin, you’ll soon be on your way to chicken success.
- Avo ritz revamped
Revamp the 70s classic of avo ritz with chicken tikka, celery and almonds.
- Butter chicken bunny chow with tomato and yoghurt
One of South Africa’s favourite street foods, bunny chow was traditionally served in a hollowed-out loaf of ‘government’ bread. This version by Knead baker Evan Faull is sauced to creamy, spicy perfection. Eat with your hands.
- Chicken pie
One of our country’s classics, this dish makes for the ultimate comfort food.
- Chicken sandwiches with spinach and apple salad
With harissa paste for kick, sliced apple for sweetness and crunch, and plenty of ginger and chilli for zing, you won’t even notice how healthy this lunch is. Make it with rye bread for a low-GI, wheat-free lunch.
- Chicken, vanilla parsnip purée, confit leek, lemon gel with Madeira reduction
This wintery recipe, which uses seasonal parsnips and leeks, is courtesy of Henrico Grobbelaar, executive chef of Azure at the 12 Apostles Hotel.
- Coq au vin by Valentine Warner
Try this hearty, boozy, slow-cooked chicken stew, as imagined by Valentine Warner in his cookbook, The Good Table.
- Jan Braai’s garlic and peri peri chicken drumsticks
Need a simple, speedy marinade for your bird on the braai? Try Jan Braai’s garlic and peri peri chicken drumsticks. “The incision to the bone of each drumstick ensures they will braai quicker than usual, and can be cooked at the same time as chops or boerewors,” advises Jan.
- Laksa lemak
This is the ultimate one-dish wonder where spicy freshness contrasts beautifully with creamy coconut.
- Mexican chicken roll
This recipe for Mexican chicken is so versatile: try it with a fresh tomato salsa on a tortilla, or toss it with some spaghetti for a quick, tasty meal. Here we use it to fill floury soft rolls.
- Moroccan chicken salad
It’s mid-afternoon at work and your energy has left the building… If that sounds familiar, try this power lunch idea that’ll keep you going all day.
- Speedy massaman curry
There’s no better way to enjoy an ice-cold beer than with good friends and a hearty curry.