Simple weeknight chicken two ways: mango chicken and marinated chicken thighs in the style of Craft.

Marinated chicken thighs in the style of Craft.

About a week ago I found a link to an article on the myth of easy cooking–in it the author claims that cooking for the most part isn’t very easy or fast, and with so many ways of ordering food made available to us, sometimes it’s simply much, much faster to get some relatively-wholesome food via Seamless or similar. On one hand, she’s right because if you did take her approach and stop at the market every day for ingredients and then set down to cook them when you got home from work, it would take an enormous amount of time.

Grilled chicken with mango salsa

The thing is, I don’t think it necessarily has to be that way. Now that we’re readjusting to me having a commute (and not a short one at that), meal planning has become a pretty essential part of our weekend routine. Some weekends will find Michael working with our new pressure/slow-cooker combo (it’s basically like a little food robot!) to make a pot roast or a pork shoulder or even a turkey breast so the meal is done and only requires a little heating up the night we want to serve it, or I’ll be making a meal component or two that can stand to sit in the fridge for a few days prior to being combined into the final product. It’s not always a streamlined operation (the blizzard totally threw me off my carefully-built new routine a bit), but it’s gotten us to a more efficient place so that we’re not sitting down to eat dinner at 7:30 or later most nights.

Often on my night to do all of the cooking because Michael is at the gym I’ll take our weekly chicken dish, and lately the boneless, skinless chicken thighs at the Teet have been our best option. (The bone-in ones are often frozen stiff so they can get a little rubbery.) Two dishes that I’ve been making with more frequency is a mango chicken and a riff on the balsamic-marinated quail dish from Craft of Cooking that I like so much.

The mango chicken couldn’t be easier: in my ideal situation, I make a mango salsa on Sunday to give the salsa a chance to marry all of its flavors together, and then on Wednesday I come home, take out the chicken, season it with some salt and pepper and throw it on the Griddler to cook. Depending on the size of the container I’ll usually have to do them in batches, but when they’ve cooled sufficiently I’ll cut them up and combine them with the salsa. It’s light, sweet, and savory all at the same time, and it makes for killer leftovers for lunch the next day.

Rosemary, thyme, and garlic-marinated chicken thighs.

The other dish that has been saving my hide is Tom Colicchio’s marinated quail recipe that I’ve raved about here, only now I use boneless thighs (and even bone-in thighs, as pictured in this post). Since the recipe benefits from marinating for at least 12 hours, I can throw it together the night before and let it sit all day, and then when I get home throw some salt on the thighs and once again grill them on the Griddler. While they cook I make a really simple lemon and arugula salad, and boom–dinner is ready.

I’m not saying that cooking is easy or that the gazillion recipes out there promising fast and delicious results live up to their promises, but these definitely fall into the accessible and not time-consuming categories.

Grilled Chicken with Mango Salsa

For the chicken:

  • 3-4 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

For the salsa:

  • 3 mangoes, skinned and diced
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1-2 chile peppers, minced (depending on your heat preference)
  • Juice of 2-3 limes (depending on how juicy said limes are)
  • Kosher salt
  • Good olive oil for finishing (optional)

Season both sides of the chicken thighs with salt and pepper, and then grill them until they come to 165 degrees via a meat thermometer. Remove from grill and let cool, and then chop up into large chunks.

Meanwhile, make the salsa: combine the mango, garlic, onion, and chile into a bowl, season with salt and lime juice, stir to combine. If possible let sit for a day or two prior to using; otherwise, in individual bowls combine with desired amount of chicken and serve with a light green salad.

Marinated Boneless Chicken Thighs a la Craft

adapted from Tom Colicchio’s Craft of Cooking

  • 3-4 lbs chicken skinless, boneless, chicken thighs
  • 6 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 3 sprigs rosemary
  • 4 sprigs thyme
  • 1 teaspoon crushed black peppercorns
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 6 tablespoons balsamic vinegar Kosher salt

In a bag, combine the olive oil, vinegar, herbs, garlic and peppercorns; add the chicken and mix well to combine. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours or up to 48 hours. When ready to grill, season well with more kosher salt and then grill until the chicken comes to 165 degrees internally via a meat thermometer. Serve immediately with a simple green salad.

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9 comments
  1. Darya said:

    I only recently tasted the combo of mango and chicken, and fell in love. It is so fresh and delicious. Your salsa sounds like something I would love. And the more classic marinade also sounds delicious, perfect for a weeknight meal.

    • It’s a surprisingly great combo! And I’m a big fan of Tom Colicchio’s recipe because it really can’t be simpler for a weeknight but feels very indulgent.

  2. Both of those are definitely accessible! I’m jealous of your pressure cooker/slow cooker hybrid–that sounds awesome!

    • IT’S SO COOL. When I can get some decent natural-light photos of what Michael has been making in it I’ll do a full roundup.

  3. Brianne said:

    Meal planning is my most/least favorite thing. I hate doing it, but not having to worry about what I’m going to eat during the week makes it worth it. Heidi Swanson wrote on 101 Cookbooks once that meal planning is “being nice to your future self.” I loved that and have since made it my motto.

    That mango chicken sounds so bomb and is most definitely happening in my kitchen next week. I have a recipe from The Kitchn that I like that’s roasted chicken thighs with lemon and fennel; that’s currently my chicken go-to recipe. But it might not be for long…!

    • I really like that motto! Yesterday a hole opened up in I-95 so it took me a long-ass time to get home–you better believe I was relieved that I had chicken marinating in the fridge that was ready to go, and then last night we rolled meatballs since M has a later meeting today and who knows what the traffic gods will have in store for me today.

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