By Lisa Golden Schroeder
I’ve talked before about cleaning out my wild collection of condiments that seems to multiply like Easter rabbits. It’s easy to think about them as a bunch of partially empty jars and bottles, but I view them as my own kitchen crew—the hard-working staff that a chef leans on to prepare the complex sauces and seasonings for their nightly restaurant magic. With just a spoonful of tangy mustard or a splash of seasoned vinegar, I can transform a sautéed chicken breast into something more than dinner in a dash.
Think about strategically building your own pantry of kitchen magic—a collection (defined as a gathering of organized objects!) of ingredients that taste really good to you and your family. Condiments (again, by definition, something that flavors food) that in interesting combinations add more color, texture, aroma to basic ingredients, like chicken, pasta, sandwiches, or whatever you throw on the grill. And what you chose can instantly transform dishes into whatever global cuisine your family loves—it doesn’t have to be complicated or take a lot of time.
So here’s are a handful of my own takes on condiment cuisine for quick chicken dishes—adding bold flavors, ones you’ll find on the dining tables or in cupboards all over the world.
Spiced Salsa Chicken: sauté boneless chicken breasts until golden; stir in tomato salsa, a spoonful of honey, a sprinkle of ground cumin and cinnamon (this is a long-time favorite riff on a cooking contest winner).
Deviled Drumsticks: coat chicken with Dijon mustard, then roll in dry bread crumbs or panko seasoned with a pinch of lemon pepper and garlic salt. Drizzle with olive oil and roast at 400˚F for about 40 minutes or until no longer pink at the bone.
Smoky Honey-Glazed Chicken: mix 1/3 cup honey with a tablespoon of smoked paprika (easy to find, terrific for adding a smoky flavor boost); brush onto a cut-up whole bird during the last 15 minutes of grilling.
Sweet ‘n Tangy Chicken Thighs: sauté boneless thighs or breasts until browned; stir in apricot or peach preserves with a spoonful of balsamic vinegar. OR try some raspberry jam + a spoonful of red wine vinegar—the vinegar cuts the sweetness and adds a different layer of flavor. Or try orange marmalade + some soy sauce + chopped green onions…
Quesadillas Verde: spread a layer of refried black beans on small flour tortillas; top with shredded leftover roast chicken or quickly sautéed chicken tenders, crumbled feta or some shredded pepper Jack cheese, and a healthy spoonful of jarred salsa verde. Top with another tortilla; brush with olive oil. Bake at 350˚F or cook in a skillet until golden and cheese is melted. Cut into wedges. (Chicken thighs baked with salsa verde and feta cheese are really a treat, served with warm buttered corn tortillas…)
Orange Curry Chicken: mix 3 tablespoons red curry paste with ½ cup orange juice concentrate. Brush on a whole chicken while it roasts at 425˚F. Another twist? Mix bottled teriyaki or hoisin sauce, some almond or peanut butter, a splash of orange juice and a drizzle of sesame oil.
Chile Chicken Salad: mix leftover roasted chicken with some jarred mayo, a squeeze of Sriracha chile sauce or a large spoonful of chopped up canned chipotle chile in adobo sauce (a spiced vinegar blend), chopped red onion, maybe a bit of celery. Spoon into a crusty roll or make chicken melts on English muffins, topped with juicy tomato slices and smoked Mozzarella.