Edible Suppers: Spring Chicken

PHOTOS BY MICHAEL PIAZZA

Whether you’re a novice home cook or a well-seasoned chef, chicken is probably on your table more often not. It’s easy to cook, pleases all palates and is ready to take on the flavors of just about every cuisine in every season. Here are some classic, back-pocket dishes to learn by heart, dressed up for springtime with all the fixins. They’re easy enough to whip up on a Thursday but sufficiently elegant for guests, showing off the splendors of spring.

Be sure to buy pasture-raised birds—and if you can, support local farmers by buying theirs. Yes, they cost more than a supermarket chicken, even more than commercial organic birds, but the texture and flavor is well worth the price. Local chickens are raised on grass, eat bugs and grubs and are healthier and happier than Perdue’s. Plus, buying a chicken from your local farmer means keeping her farm diversified, her land undeveloped and the rest of her livestock in balance: Chickens play an integral role in the life cycle of a farm, from controlling pests to producing high-nitrogen fertilizer.

When you buy a chicken at your local farmers market or on-farm store, it’ll almost always be frozen. This ensures you’re getting the freshest bird possible, as most small-scale poultry farmers flash-freeze their birds right after slaughter. By stocking up on a few chickens for your freezer, you’ll always have an easy meal at your fingertips, with only a little advance planning. Frozen whole chickens need a day or two in the fridge to defrost; vacuum-sealed packages of chicken parts can be thawed in a bowl of warm water in an hour or two.

Many of the accompanying ingredients in these recipes will go in and out of season during the springtime months. Don’t be afraid to substitute with vegetables you do have if the pea crop isn’t ready or the carrots aren’t yet pulled. Be creative and ask your farmer what she suggests in their place—you’ll find that with a few easy swaps, you’ve got a whole new recipe for your box. Happy spring!

Sarah Blackburn is a home cook, recipe developer, soccer mom, Italophile and managing editor at Edible Boston. She can be reached at sarah@edibleboston.com.