Plain and Not So Plain Chicken

CookingThe silver lining to the pandemic has been that our son and daughter-in-law (Moish & Charissa) ― who used to get together with friends every Friday ―are, instead, coming over every week for Shabbat dinner. This past week, Charissa commented that she never cooks chicken herself, partly because she doesn’t like the thought of handling raw chicken but also because she doesn’t know how to cook chicken.

Did I say that the menu every week is always chicken? Lou grew up having chicken for dinner every Friday night for Shabbat. When we were married, I decided to continue that tradition. However, whereas Lou’s mom made chicken the same way every week, I wanted to vary what I served – hence I have a very large number of different chicken recipes. So here is an excerpt of the chicken chapter of the family cookbook I am compiling. I’ll start simple with some roasted chicken recipes …

A note about the recipes ― we keep kosher and the chicken is already brined as part of the koshering process, so I do not use salt in any of the recipes.

Chicken - plainPlain Chicken

One night when Lou asked me what I was making for dinner, I answered ‘plain chicken’ – hence the name for this recipe. It’s become a family joke because, as you’ll see, it is not really plain given my somewhat heavy use of seasonings. ‘Plain’ to me just meant no sauce.

One time when Moish was in middle school, he went to a friend’s house for dinner. He came home, asking if there was anything to eat. As he told me, he had been served real plain chicken and had not enjoyed it.

1 chicken, cut up
Garlic or onion powder
Thyme (or other herb)


  1. PREHEAT the oven to 400°.
  2. Season chicken generously on both sides with the garlic or onion powder, a small amount of pepper, & the thyme. Place the chicken skin-side up in the roasting pan and sprinkle with the paprika.
  3. Roast for 30-45 minutes until the chicken is done and the skin is nicely browned. 

Chicken - spice rubbed roast chickenSpice-Rubbed Roast Chicken

So this recipe also does not have a sauce but I would never have called it plain. It’s made with a dry rub which gives a wonderful flavor to the chicken. The rub is also good for grilling the chicken.

1 chicken, cut up
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon ancho chile powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon mustard powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
2 bay leaves, crumbled


  1. PREHEAT the oven to 425°.
  2. Mix together sugar, chile powder, paprika, mustard oregano, pepper, allspice, & bay leaves. Smear the mixture all over the chicken and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  3. Place chicken skin-side up on A rimmed baking pan. Roast for 30-45 minutes until the chicken is done and the skin is nicely browned.

Chicken with kaleRoasted Chicken with Potatoes and Kale

This is a very easy and quick dish to make ― it’s made in a single pan and the chicken does not need to be browned first. You can use your hands to pull the kale leaves from the larger stems and tear the leaves into smaller pieces. I use a mandolin to evenly cut the potatoes into thin slices.

I had never cooked or even eaten kale before making this recipe. I had gotten a bunch of kale from the CSA (community sponsored agriculture) and had to figure out what to do with it. A quick google search let me know that kale could be cooked in the oven. I had seen a recipe that called for cooking chicken and potatoes together in the oven – so I just added the kale. I loved it so much that I increased the amount the kale next time I tried it. Two pounds of uncooked kale needs a lot of room, so you’ll need a big roasting pan. (Of course, you can also halve the recipe.)

2 pounds kale (2-3 bunches), stems removed
1½ pounds medium Yukon Gold potatoes, sliced ¼ inch thick
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground pepper
8 whole chicken legs
1 teaspoon smoked paprika


  1. PREHEAT the oven to 450°.
  2. In a large roasting pan, toss kale, potatoes & onion with the olive oil. Season with pepper and spread in an even layer.
  3. Put chicken on a cutting board, skin side down. Slice halfway through the joint between the drumsticks and thighs. Season with pepper, sprinkle with paprika and put on top of the vegetables.
  4. Cover the pan with foil. Roast for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and roast for 30 minutes longer, until the chicken is cooked through and the vegetables are tender.

Chicken - sheetpan potatoes & tomatoesChicken with Tomatoes and Potatoes 

This is another quick and easy one-pan chicken dish. Inspired by the chicken and kale recipe, I decided to try other combinations while I’d been teaching from home during the pandemic. I was able to get the dish ready for cooking before my afternoon class and put it in the oven immediately afterwards.

2 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoon chopped rosemary leaves (2 sprigs)
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
4 chicken thighs
3-4 medium Yukon Gold or new potatoes, quartered lengthwise into wedges
4 plum tomatoes, quartered lengthwise into wedges
1 medium onion (6 ounces), halved and thinly sliced
⅛ cup white wine


  1. PREHEAT the oven to 450°.
  2. Mix together 1 tablespoon olive oil, ½ tablespoon rosemary, pepper flake, & pepper. Add chicken and marinate for 30 minutes at room temperature.
  3. In a rimmed baking pan with a lid, combine the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil & ½ tablespoon rosemary with the potatoes, tomatoes & onion. Toss and spread out evenly in the pan. Arrange chicken on top, skin side up. Add wine, pouring along the edges of the pan. Top with the remaining rosemary. Cover and cook for 30 minutes.
  4. Remove chicken from the oven. Heat the broiler with the rack placed about 8 inches from the heat.  Return pan to the oven, uncovered, and cook until skin is browned (10 minutes).
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6 thoughts on “Plain and Not So Plain Chicken

  1. Thank you, Sarita! I’ll try them all. I also change my chicken recipe very often, but don’t write them down. Mine are very good too, but it’s always nice to try something new.

  2. Sarita,

    Thanks for the recipes. I’m going to add the kale and potato recipe to my long list of chicken dishes.
    In the next From the Shomrei Kitchen column, look for a couple of unique ways to cook chicken that are anything but “plain.”

    Aileen Grossberg

  3. Fabulous look into Sarita’s chicken kitchen. Or kitchen chicken. Or chicken chapter. Either way it’s a delicious tongue twister!
    I love the history and helpful photographs. I can practically smell the dishes from my house a mile away.
    Thanks for sharing.
    What’s the next chapter in the family cookbook?

  4. Thanks, Sarita. I’ll try the Spice Rubbed Chicken. I have all the ingredients “in House”. Why not add kale to this also?

What do you think?