By David Tamarkin. Photos by: Chelsea Kyle, Food Styling by Anna Stockwell.
On this first day of #cook90: Spring Edition—I started this morning, are you with me?—I'm kicking those take-out boxes to the curb and committing to cooking three meals a day, all month long. And as I get rolling, I'd like to take some time out to talk about one of my four favorite subjects. No, I don't want to talk about jazz, or chocolate cake, or the socioeconomic impacts of meal-kit delivery services. I want to talk about my other favorite subject: chicken.
Specifically, I want to talk about spring chicken, which is very different from winter chicken. In winter I like crisp-skinned, rich dark meat—chickens that have been roasted with potatoes and rosemary and some thickly sliced bread underneath to soak up all the fat. That's why when I #cook90 in January, I roast chicken—or at least chicken parts—at least once a week. (My go-to recipe: this one.)
Spring chicken is a different animal. (I speak metaphorically, of course, though if you want to literally pick a different animal and call it chicken, may I recommend Cornish game hens?) In spring I crave gently poached chicken breasts with something green—asparagus or spinach or, why not, some pesto-tossed bow-tie pasta. Or I'll take a crispy chicken cutlet topped with lemony arugula, or a ludicrous amount of tzatziki.
But the last time I made a big batch of those aforementioned chicken cutlets (I keep them in the freezer and revive them in my toaster oven), I could feel myself getting impatient. It was 68 degrees and sunny outside; through my window I could see children chasing an ice cream truck. I'd chase it alongside them, but instead, there I was, trapped in an adult body (and in front of the stove).
That was the moment I wondered why I hadn't bought a rotisserie chicken instead.
Some of you are probably thinking that a rotisserie chicken doesn't "count" for #cook90, because it's already been cooked. I'm here to tell you that there's no shame in pre-cooked ingredients, and that it totally counts to cook with them.
It comes down to how, exactly, you use that store-bought shortcut. In her brilliant Epicurious story a few weeks ago, my colleague Anna Stockwell demonstrated three ways that you can make dinner with an already-cooked rotisserie chicken. (This was a follow-up to a similar story she published last year.) In my favorite of those recipes, she steams asparagus and potatoes with pieces of that cooked chicken, and finishes the plate with an herby yogurt dressing.
To my mind, this is not only cooking, it's quintessential spring cooking: herby, light, and fast.
That's why as I cook (almost) every meal at home during this May reboot of #cook90, you'll see me cook with lots of pre-cooked ingredients: smoked trout, cured salmon, canned chickpeas, oil-packed tuna. I'll be pairing them with spring vegetables such as asparagus, fava beans, ramps, new potatoes, and fresh herbs. I'm going to make fast pastas, big salads, open-faced sandwiches, and hearty grain bowls with this stuff. And when I'm done, I'm going to chase an ice cream truck. Because to me, the best spring recipes are the ones that leave you enough time to enjoy the season (and share your pics on Instagram).
Get this recipe: Warm Chicken Salad with Asparagus and Creamy Dill Dressing
This story originally appeared on Epicurious.
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