chicken pasta

Why do so many chicken dishes evoke fond memories of childhood and growing up? From the traditional family chicken roast to a pan of gently-simmered medicinal chicken soup, and all the chicken leftover possibilities in-between! It’s really hard to pick a favourite chicken recipe because there are so many ways of cooking chicken and creating simple, family-friendly recipes.

I will usually buy a whole chicken to make sure that we get the most for our money, but chicken thighs or chicken legs make a great, affordable alternative, too. If you can, look out for higher-welfare chicken, such as free-range varieties. For a really tasty chicken supper that’s bound to win everyone over, try this recipe for tender & crisp chicken legs with sweet tomatoes, cooked in just one pan in the oven for 1½ hours. If I’m making this for the kids, I leave out the sea salt and chilli altogether and sometimes, instead of adding cannellini beans, I add in a handful of pasta, noodles or rinsed Basmati rice for the final thirty minutes. Home-grown ingredients taste great, and if you have the space and the direct sunlight, now is the perfect time of year to decide to grow your own baby tomatoes ready for the summer. Or if you fancy an easier challenge, simply get a basil pot for even the smallest of windowsills. Both are a great way of making your dishes fresh and colourful.

When cooking with children, I know how much they enjoy the build-your-own aspect of chicken fajitas or tacos with plenty of lettuce, tomato and cucumber on the side, ready to wrap. Younger children will also love helping you pick the cold meat from a roast chicken so it can be used later in all manner of dishes. Sandwiches piled high with tender meat and fresh salad, or cold-cuts with roasted vegetables and cooked mixed grains or pulses are a great option for the next day.

We’re huge fans of chicken with pasta, and very often I will add chunky chicken pieces into a creamy risotto or shredded chicken into quick-to-the-table stir-fries. Homemade chicken nuggets or chicken pieces are also incredibly easy to make, so there’s no need to buy processed nuggets full of nasties. At home we set up a mini production line, with a bowl of plain flour, a bowl of beaten eggs and a bowl of breadcrumbs. Then it’s simply a case of dipping chicken pieces (flattened, if you prefer) into the flour, the beaten eggs and the breadcrumbs, to coat. Pan-fry the chicken pieces in a little olive oil, very gently, for five minutes on each side and then finish them off in a warm oven to ensure they are cooked all the way through. We like to serve our homemade nuggets with smoky-mixed potato wedges or Greek-vegetable kebabs – another great recipe for the kids to take on for themselves. Whichever you prefer, always remind the children to wash their hands when handling chicken!

For more ideas on tasty chicken suppers, pop over and read this post on using the whole chicken, which includes a recipe for poached chicken, chicken salads and a tasty broth.

About the author

Ren Behan is a well-known food writer and mum-of-two based in Hertfordshire in the UK. She grew up in a food-loving Polish household and now writes a popular family-friendly and seasonally-inspired blog at www.renbehan.com. Ren enjoys cooking with her two children, aged 6 and 4.

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