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Chocolate Milk–Braised Chicken (Yep, That's Right!) Is a Weeknight Magic Trick

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A few years ago, as we were dreaming up our next cookbook, we thought long and hard about what the topic might be. We'd published a book on vegan cooking for plant-based folks (and folks looking to eat more plants), and another one on riffable, mighty salads. There was a book on adventurous ice creams and other frozen treats, and one on the most Genius recipes in our canon. One on expert dinner planning and one on baking classics and new favorites, alike. There was even a book on grilling, for people who didn't know they liked to grill. And another one on baking, this time from some of the greatest food minds we know.

So what to do next?

Turns out, it was staring us right in the face. What makes an appearance on our dinner table so many nights a week, thanks to its dependability and versatility? What do we count on for a quick-cooking building block that can take on so many different flavors? What do we love to eat, but may have run out of new ways to keep exciting?

That's right—chicken. We knew that we needed to do a book on chicken. But we also knew it couldn't be just any kind of book on chicken. It had to be surprising, creative, personality-filled, dynamite. Thus, our newest cookbook was born: Dynamite Chicken: 60 Never-Boring Recipes for Your Favorite Bird—and, lo and behold, it's finally out in the world (hooray!).

Signed Copy: Food52 Dynamite Chicken © Provided by Food52 Signed Copy: Food52 Dynamite Chicken Signed Copy: Food52 Dynamite Chicken

As our co-founders, Amanda and Merrill, explain in the book's foreword, we wanted to find out: "Could we do a chicken cookbook we’d be proud of, one we’d want to buy ourselves? One with original ideas and exciting flavors, that was implicitly approachable without talking down to you? A cookbook that made chicken feel like an adventure?

"We like a challenge. We also like surrounding ourselves with the best cooks and writers in the business. So we reached out to Tyler Kord, he of the amazingly titled cookbook A Super Upsetting Cookbook About Sandwiches. We were fans of Tyler’s writing, and devotees of his No. 7 Sub shop, which he kindly located near our office. There, he makes delicious, rule-breaking sandwiches, like roasted broccoli with pickled lychee, and ham and cheese with pickled blueberries (and barbecue potato chips—on the sandwich).

"We knew Tyler could write the anti-'chicken cookbook' chicken cookbook."

a cup of coffee on a table: Five Two Stoneware Dinnerware © Provided by Food52 Five Two Stoneware Dinnerware Five Two Stoneware Dinnerware a close up of food on a table: Food52 x GreenPan Roasting Pan with Rack © Provided by Food52 Food52 x GreenPan Roasting Pan with Rack Food52 x GreenPan Roasting Pan with Rack

And so Tyler did—a book filled with winning weeknight dinners and ambitious-but-rewarding weekend projects; chicken dishes that your guests will love to eat, and that your picky kids won't throw on the floor; chicken to comfort you when you're feeling blue or coming down with the sniffles. And beyond that, the book's got all sorts of useful chicken tips and tricks: how to properly break down and spatchcock and chicken, once and for all; how to make the world's best chicken stock; how to pound chicken and grind chicken yourself and use it any which way.

Throughout the month of October, we'll be sharing some of these chicken how-tos, along with recipe videos featuring Tyler and friends, to make a chicken champ out of us all. But for now, here are five totally dynamite chicken recipes from our cookbook, starting with one very curious, remarkably clever, absolutely delicious dish that calls for—wait for it—chocolate milk.

Best Dynamite Chicken Recipes

1. Spicy Chocolate Milk–Simmered Chicken

We know, we know—chocolate milk and chicken sounds just a little (read: very) zany. But hear us (and Tyler) out: First, milk-poached chicken is a universally beloved and completely acceptable method of preparation. Second, sweet-savory chicken is also very much a known entity, as seen in American-Chinese favorites such as orange chicken and General Tso's chicken, as well as Southern-American BBQ chicken. And third, chocolate + chicken is a proven combination, evidenced by pollo en mole poblano, hailing from the state of Puebla, Mexico.

So now that you know it works, why aren't you running to the grocery store to grab the goods? Sam Sifton, food editor of The New York Times did, calling it "delicious, a cool weeknight dish, like a magic trick that uses supermarket props."

2. Farfalle With Chicken, Broccoli & All Of The Herbs

Crisp roasted broccoli, soft and jammy roasted garlic, tender chicken breast, and a shower of fresh, soft herbs all mingle with al dente bow ties in this speedy weeknight wonder. Better yet, spice-infused chicken stock, a knob of butter, and a shower of Parmesan are added to the pasta as it finishes cooking, creating a thick, velvety sauce reminiscent of cacio e pepe.

As Tyler says, "this pasta (with chicken) is unlike any weeknight pasta you’ve ever had." And we totally agree—in a very good way.

To see it come together for yourself, watch our food writer and recipe developer, Emma Laperruque, make the dish on Instagram tonight (Oct. 8).

3. Roast Chicken With All Of The Vegetables In Your CSA

Ever get a CSA box with five cabbages, seven potatoes, and a couple onions? Ever use up everything in a CSA box with five cabbages, seven potatoes, and a couple onions? We've been there; Tyler has, too, and has a solution for you: This clever twist on a classic roast chicken.

First, cut the chicken in quarters, so you use every part (Tyler gives helpful step-by-step instructions on how to do this; or you can buy the bird this way), then toss it in the biggest roasting pan you own with vegetables that need a cook time of about an hour (potatoes, beets, winter squash, rutabaga, and such). Then, stick it back in the oven, fix yourself a martini, and prep another batch of vegetables with a shorter cooking time (think: cabbage, carrots, fennel, and more).

Do this with a few more vegetables, staggering your cooking times as you go (next goes in vegetables like mushrooms, broccoli, and bell peppers; then, in the last five minutes, delicate little English peas or greens like arugula). Zap the broiler at the end, and you have crispy-skinned chicken with a host of chicken fat-infused vegetables surrounding it—all perfectly cooked, all done at the same time.

4. Lemony Spaghetti With Parmesan Popcorn Chicken

"I put chicken nuggets on spaghetti," Tyler says, "because, yes, I am a monster." Monstrous or not, we're glad Tyler did, because what we get is a spaghetti pangrattato-like affair on overdrive. Breading the chicken with Parmesan-and coriander-spiced breadcrumbs, then shallow-frying it, is actually a lot less scary than it sounds (it takes just minutes!). And while you do it, spaghetti can be bubbling away in another pot. (Multi-tasking for the win!)

Then, pasta water, Parmesan, and lemon juice come together to make a silky sauce that coats the strands of spaghetti, before they're topped with the cheesy popcorn chicken nuggets.

5. Broiled Chicken Thighs With Plum Tomatoes & Garlic

The recipe, inspired by Merrill's braised chicken thighs with plum tomatoes and garlic, is already a community favorite: Luke raved that it "turned out fantastic. The skin was unbelievable, and a perfect use of the over producing tomatoes we have in the backyard." And knoh praised it as a "easy, flavorful and versatile. Loooove this recipe." Music to our ears!

And you can even enjoy it outside of tomato season; try it with canned, drained whole plum tomatoes in the cooler months, and keep extra bread on hand for all the sauciness that will ensue.

Related video: How to Carve a Chicken

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