How-To: Truss A Chicken or Cornish Game Hen

A roast chicken or Cornish game hen is a simple, delicious dinner. Every cook should have her favorite method for roasting a whole bird memorized. Next time you’re preparing a poultry feast, try our method for easy trussing, no butcher’s twine required.

What is trussing?

Trussing is a method of tying up a chicken into a neat little package. Typically it’s done using butcher’s twine. A chef uses twine to tie the legs and wings closer to the body of the bird. Trussing a chicken can improve the appearance of the roasted bird, and can help it cook more evenly.

Why do chefs truss chickens (and Cornish game hens)? 

One of the challenges of roasting a chicken is ensuring that it cooks evenly. When a chicken is lying flat on a tray, the wings and legs tend to fall away from the bird. These small pieces of sections are exposed to more air, and will cook more quickly than the rest of the bird. Trying the legs and wings closer to the body of the bird can help the chicken cook more evenly and prevent the tips of the wings from burning. A trussed chicken also looks neat and pretty when presented whole. 

Do I need to truss a chicken (or Cornish game hen)? 

Trussing a chicken or Cornish game hen isn’t strictly mandatory, but with the no method we use, it’s so easy that there’s no reason not to.

What do I do if I don’t have butcher twine?

I’m glad you asked! Watch the video above to see our chef demonstrate a method for trussing a chicken with no twine. 

How to truss a chicken with no twine 

Using a knife, locate the extra skin flap around the cavity of the bird. Using scissors or a knife, make a small incision in the skin flap. Use your finger to widen the hole. Repeat on the other side of the cavity. 

After both incisions have been made, take hold of one of the drumsticks. Pull it across the body of the chicken and tuck the end of the drumstick through the hole that you created. Repeat with the other drumstick so that the legs are crossed and tucked closely against the bird.

Finally, take hold of the wings of the bird. Push them up and back, as though the chicken were stretching its arms over its head. Push the tips of the wings behind the bird and tuck them into place. This will keep the meat from drying out. 

trussed roasted chicken

Now that you’ve mastered this technique, try our recipe for simple roast chicken.

Moroccan Braised Chicken Legs with Couscous & Currants

braised chicken recipe with harissa

Chilly weather calls for flavorful, slow-cooked chicken legs adorned with buttery olives and bright lemon slices. This recipe borrows flavors from a Moroccan tagine (like harissa paste, which you can find in the international aisle or in a Middle Eastern grocery; we love the New York Shuk brand) and yields a similar, slightly stewy result — perfect to serve over fluffy couscous. Try this Moroccan-inspired braised chicken recipe for a cozy night in.

What is the Difference Between Braising and Stewing?

Braising and stewing are both simple cooking techniques that yield flavorful results. There are a few key differences. Braising typically refers to cooking large cuts of meat or vegetables, partially submerged in liquid, until they are tender. Stewing uses smaller cuts of meat or vegetables, and completely submerges them in liquid. Browning is also a key factor; braised meats and vegetables are always browned before they are slowly cooked. Browning is not a requirement of stewing.

How to Make Moroccan Braised Chicken with Couscous

Serves: 4
Time: 75 – 80 minutes

Ingredients

4 bone-in, skin-on chicken legs (thigh and drumstick together)
2 shallots, cut into ½-inch wedges
1 tbsp unsalted butter
6 oz cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup couscous
2 tbsp currants
½ cup white wine
1 ½ cups low-sodium chicken stock
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 lemon, thinly sliced crosswise, seeds removed
2 tbsp harissa paste
½ cup castelvatrano olives, smashed and pitted
2 tbsp sliced almonds
1 bunch parsley, roughly chopped
Olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

1. Brown the chicken:
Pat the chicken dry with paper towels; season on both sides with salt and pepper. In a large, heavy-bottomed pot or dutch oven, heat the butter and 2 tablespoons of olive oil on medium-high until melted and hot. Add the chicken. Cook 5 to 6 minutes per side, or until golden brown. Leaving any browned bits (or fond) in the pan, transfer to a plate.

2. Cook the vegetables:
To the pot of reserved fond, add the shallots; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, 8 to 9 minutes, or until softened and caramelized. Add the garlic; cook, stirring frequently, 1 to 2 minutes, or until slightly softened. Add the harissa paste; cook, stirring constantly, 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until coated and combined.

3. Start the braise:
Add the wine; cook, stirring constantly to scrape up any fond, 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until combined. Add the stock, browned chicken (skin-side up), olives, and lemon slices. Cover the pot and cook 29 to 31 minutes.

4. Finish the braise:
Remove the lid. Cook 10 to 12 minutes, or until the liquid is slightly reduced. Stir in the tomatoes. Cook 2 to 3 minutes, or until softened and the chicken is cooked through (an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the chicken thigh should register 165ºF).

5. Cook the couscous:
While the chicken cooks, in a medium pot, combine the couscous and 1 cup of chicken stock; season with salt and pepper. Heat to boiling on high. Once boiling, cover and remove from heat. Let stand 6 to 8 minutes, or until the water has been absorbed and the couscous is tender. Fluff the cooked couscous with a fork; season with salt and pepper to taste.

6. Finish the couscous & serve your dish:
To the pot of cooked couscous, stir in the currants, almonds, and a drizzle of olive oil. Serve the finished couscous with the cooked chicken, vegetables, and sauce. Garnish with the parsley. Enjoy!

How to Prepare a Half Chicken

What’s more comforting than a roasted chicken? For many of our chefs, it’s their go-to Sunday dinner. Pair it with a salad or crispy potatoes, and a roasted bird can be a healthy and satisfying meal. Follow this guide and learn how to roast and carve a half chicken at home. It’s a skill you’ll use over and over again. 

half chicken with roasted potatoes and salad
Half of the chicken, all of the fun

When it comes to roasting, a bone-in skin-on chicken just brings more flavor. The skin is crispy and flavorful, the pan drippings can be used to make delicious dressings and sauces, and the bones can be reserved for stock.

To make this dinner possible, Blue Apron partnered with Pasturebird to send sustainably-raised high-quality half chickens. Even though we love a whole bird, there are some advantages to working with half chicken at home. Once it’s butchered, a half chicken can lay down flat, so it will cook more evenly. We recommend roasting cut side down, which means that you’ll get as much crispy skin as possible, since it’s all exposed to the air. 

Carving a half chicken is a cinch: all you need is a sturdy knife and a few tips. We separate ours into four pieces so that it’s easy to serve. 

carve a half chicken
Separating the leg and thigh

To get started, use a sharp, sturdy knife to cut along the leg of the roasted and rested chicken, separating the thigh and breast. Cut the breast in half crosswise through the bone (keeping the wing intact), to form two pieces. Watch the video below for a step by step demonstration.

To separate the drumstick and the thigh, the trick is finding the joint. Just wiggle the drumstick and place the knife right at the connecting point. This way, you’re not trying to saw through bone. With a little pressure and a sturdy knife, the drumstick should pop away easily. If you like, you can also cut through the joint connecting the wing to the breast. 

Serve the carved chicken with salads, crusty breads, savory pan sauces, or roasted vegetables.

All About the Za’atar Spice Blend

What is Za’atar

The term Za’atar refers to a family of herbs, including thyme, oregano and marjoram. It’s also a spice blend, and one of Blue Apron’s favorite ingredients. Recipes for the za’atar spice blend vary slightly, but our house version of this Middle Eastern condiment is made from sumac, sesame seeds, salt, ground thyme, dried oregano and crushed Aleppo pepper. 

Traditionally sun-dried, za’atar is often eaten with pita or used as seasoning for various meats, vegetables and hummus. Recipes for this spice blend were once considered so precious that they were kept secret—even from family members.

How Za’atar is Used

Cooks use za’atar for seasoning meats and other main courses, but the most popular form of consumption is as a dry dip for bread. Vendors sell the mix in little paper cones, along with fresh bread for dipping. If you try this method at home, we definitely recommend that your bread make a pitstop in olive oil to help the za’atar stick to it.

Our Favorite Recipes Using Za’atar

Each ingredient in a za’atar spice blend helps build flavor. Thyme offers a wonderful earthy herbiness, sesame seeds bring rich nuttiness, sumac, made by grinding the dried berries from the sumac shrub, contributes a slightly sour, citrus-like flavor to the mix. Salt, of course, brings out each of the individual flavors. This blend is delicious on bread, chicken and other meats, or roasted vegetables. Check out some of our favorite recipes below. 

Beef & Quinoa with Tzatziki, Tomatoes & Olives

beef spiced with za'atar
This shawarma-inspired beef dish can be made ahead of time for an easy dinner

Chicken Burgers & Oven Fries with Feta-Labneh Spread & Garlic Chips

burgers prepared with za'atar
These Middle Eastern-inspired burgers are deliciously tangy

Chicken & Farro Salad with Beet, Goat Cheese & Pistachios

za'atar dinner with chicken
An elegant take on a classic flavor combination: sweet beets and tangy goat cheese

Roasted Cauliflower & Tzatziki over Fregola Sarda Pasta

za'atar spiced cauliflower
This seared cauliflower steak makes a satisfying vegetarian dinner

Beef & Carrots with Zucchini Rice & Lemon Labneh

beef and cauliflower bowl with zaatar
Lemony labneh keeps this dish bright and exciting

Beef over Spiced Rice with Lemon Labneh

za-atar beef and carrots
This dinner is full of vibrant spice and tender beef

Roasted Broccoli & Fregola Sarda with Hard-Boiled Eggs & Tahini Dressing

za'atar pasta
Crunchy almonds, tahini, and Pecorino make this vegetarian dinner super satisfying

Spiced Chicken with Pink Lemon Pan Sauce & Pearl Couscous

za'atar chicken
A simple pan sauce takes this recipe over the top

Braised Chicken Thighs with White Wine and Capers

Braised chicken thighs with white wine
Braise it in wine, then pair it with wine

If you’re looking for a new idea for a chicken dinner, consider this. These braised chicken thighs are tangy, tender, and full of flavor. Braising in white wine brings in extra complexity to help you create a satisfying dinner with a short ingredient list. You can use any dry white wine that you like, just don’t forget the golden rule: if you wouldn’t drink it, don’t cook with it.

Recipe: White Wine-Braised Chicken Thighs 

Ingredients:

  • 8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 shallot, sliced 
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced 
  • 1 cup dry white wine 
  • 1.5 cups chicken broth or stock
  • 1 tablespoon capers
  • 1 lemon, sliced and deseeded 
  • 4 sprigs thyme
  • 2 bay leaves

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels; season with salt and pepper generously on both sides. Dust lightly with the flour.

2. In a large, oven safe pan (nonstick, if you have one), heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil medium-high heat until hot. Add the seasoned chicken, skin side down, and cook 8 to 10 minutes, or until browned. Flip and cook 4 to 5 minutes, until browned, but not necessarily fully cooked through. Turn off the heat. Leaving any browned bits (or fond) in the pan, transfer to a plate. Carefully drain off any excess fat, leaving about 1 tablespoon in the pan. 

3. Heat the pan of reserved fond on medium. Add the sliced shallot and cook, 1 to 2 minutes, or until translucent. Add the sliced garlic and cook for 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until fragrant. Add the wine (carefully, as the liquid may splatter), and cook, scraping up any fond, until the wine has reduced by half. 

4. Add the chicken broth, capers, lemon slices, thyme and bay leaf to the pan. Heat to boiling on high. Carefully add the browned chicken back to the pan, skin-side up. Turn off the heat. Place the pan in the oven and cook, uncovered, 30 to 35 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through and tender. Remove the pan from the oven.

5. If you’d like a slightly thicker sauce, remove the finished chicken from the pan and reduce the sauce until it’s a desired consistency. Enjoy!

A Chicken Potsticker Recipe To Make at Home

chicken potsticker recipe

It’s always a good day to eat dumplings. With a little know-how, and the best chicken potsticker recipe, you’ll never be far from a satisfying dinner. Watch the video below for a complete guide to how we like to mix, wrap, boil, and sear our homemade chicken potstickers.

Get the recipe here

What’s the difference between dumplings and potstickers?

Dumpling is an umbrella term. It can refer to anything from delightfully doughy lumps in chicken and dumpling soup, to delicate gyoza. Potstickers are Chinese and Chinese-American dumpling variety. They get their name from their signature crispy bottom. If you’re not careful during the searing process, they have a tendency to stick to the pot.

Chicken potsticker filling recipe

Our chicken potsticker recipe calls for baby tatsoi. Tatsoi is an Asian green that’s very closely related to bok choi. If you’re unable to find tatsoi, baby bok choi would be just as delicious.

The filling gets its satisfying flavor from a mixture of ginger, garlic, scallions, sesame oil and soy sauce. After you’ve mastered working with chicken, this seasoning would also work well with ground pork, or a mixture of ground chicken and shrimp.

How to fold dumplings and potstickers

For the easiest way to seal a potsticker, watch Chef Matt Wadiak’s technique in the video above. This simple approach is great if you’re working with kids, if you’ve never made a potsticker before, or if you’re in just in a big rush to eat.

Chef Wadiak simply wets one half of each wrapper, folds them over, and seals the edge with a fork.

how to make chicken potstickers

For a slightly more advanced technique try pleating the edges, like in this photo below. To do this, just pinch the dumpling wrapper between your thumb and forefinger. With your opposite hand, make a small fold, and pinch to seal.

how to fold dumplings

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Homemade Chicken Nuggets with Fritos, Pretzels, and More

Chef Lisa Appleton knows the value of a childhood classic, but she’s not afraid to get a little creative in the kitchen. Here’s her take on homemade chicken nuggets. 

Homemade chicken nuggets with Fritos, pretzels, and bread crumbs

As a kid, was there any better meal than chicken nuggets? They’re the perfect finger food, and the perfect vessel for practically any sauce. But what if you could make the chicken nuggets themselves more flavorful? The secret to the perfect nugget lies in your favorite snack foods. 

A good nugget coating needs to be something crispy or crunchy, but that doesn’t always have to be breadcrumbs. Pretzels, potato chips, and Fritos all make for a delicious coating. Choose your favorite snack and crush into pieces the size of breadcrumbs, it will work just fine. A toss in flour and a dip in beaten egg will get any of these things to stick and coat the chicken pieces. This hands-off recipe calls for baking in the oven. There’s no hot oil and no messy stove to clean up. Grab your favorite dipping sauce and enjoy.

Baked Chicken Nugget Recipe 

  • 1 to 1 ½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • ⅓ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ to 2 cups coating of your choice (breadcrumbs, crushed Ritz crackers, chopped pecans, crushed Fritos, crushed potato chips and crushed pretzels)

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a sheet pan with foil, and lightly oil the foil. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and transfer to a cutting board. Cut into approximately 1 ½ -inch pieces, and season with salt and pepper. 

2. Place the flour and beaten egg in two separate bowls. Place the coating in a third bowl. (I did 6 different coatings for fun, but you only need one.)

3. Working a few pieces at a time, thoroughly coat the seasoned chicken in the flour (shaking of any excess), then in the beaten egg (letting the excess drip off), then in the coating (pressing to adhere). Transfer to the prepared sheet pan. 

4. Bake for 20 minutes, or until browned and cooked through. If you want to brown them a bit more, broil on high for 2 to 3 minutes after baking. Transfer to a plate and serve with your favorite dipping sauce. 

The Blue Apron Guide to Grilling

how to grill
Char for days

The char of the grill is the signature flavor of summer. Not only is grilling fast and infinitely adaptable, it’s also an evening activity unto itself. The grill is a lovely place to gather outdoors when it’s just too hot to turn on the oven. Of course, even a cooking method commonly considered easy can be a little perplexing sometimes.

Making sure your food is properly cooked is a good place to start. Cooking times vary on the grill. Some items, like shrimp, are done in a flash. To master the art of grilling (almost) any protein check out the Blue Apron guide to grilling meat, featuring a chart grill of times and advice from the Blue Apron test kitchen.

When it comes to the grill, you shouldn’t stop with the main course. Our guide to grilling fruits and vegetables explains why grilling side dishes can actually make dinner preparation easier. It also offers quick advice on cooking times and ideas for what to make with your grilled pineapple, asparagus, and scallions. 

The grill brings a lot of flavor, but it can’t do the work all on its own. Seasoning meats before bringing them to the grill is essential. Rubs and marinades are two popular ways to introduce some spice to your grilled dinner. Check out our guide to rubs and marinades to learn about the best ways to use them, and to find a few recipes to get you started. 

make a marinade
Spiced and flavorful

Of course, not everyone has a grill. For those who are spending more time inside this summer, we have a solution for you, too. Blue Apron’s guide to grilling inside can show you how to get the charred smoky flavor you crave, even if you don’t have a yard. 

Once you’ve mastered grill times and chosen your favorite grilling technique, here are a few recipes to help you flex your new skills. 

Grilling recipes

Grilled Caesar Salad from Henrietta Red 

grilled radishes

Grilled Steak Tacos with Roasted Salsa Verde 

how to grill steak
Steak tacos

Smoky Marinated Eggplant with Herb Salsa from Hyacinth 

grilled eggplant
Charred and ready to eat

Is a Rub or a Marinade Better for Flavorful Grilling?

Marinades and rubs go hand in hand with grilling. Both methods are used to add more flavor to your meal. But what, exactly, is the difference, and how do you know when to do what?

how to make a marinade grilled chicken
Marinated grilled chicken

How to make a marinade 

Marinades are a liquid solution spiked with spices. To marinate a protein, you immerse it in the liquid, and leave it to sit in the refrigerator for an hour or more. The flavors can vary based on your personal preference and the types of herbs, spices or liquids you’re adding to the mix. Marinades typically have an acidic component, like lemon juice or vinegar, that is said to help break down protein molecules and tenderize your meat. However, even with long soaking times, marinades primarily flavor the surface of meat, poultry or seafood. The liquid won’t actually penetrate all the way through. That makes this technique best suited for thin cuts of meat, like skirt steak. 

When marinating, make sure that you have enough liquid to coat your protein, but keep in mind that you can’t use the liquid as a sauce once it has touched raw meat. If you’re hoping to use your marinade on the finished meal, set some aside before using the rest to coat the raw meat. After your protein is done refrigerating, let any extra marinade drip off before placing on the grill. Excess oil and fat can lead to flare ups and uneven temperatures when grilling. 

How to make a rub

A rub is composed of salt, pepper, herbs, and spices. Sometimes sugar enters the mix, but there is not usually a liquid component. Similar to marinades, rubs season the surface of the food, but won’t penetrate all the way through. Unlike marinades, however, rubs don’t require an extended period of resting time to pick up the flavor. Once the rub is on, you’re all set to grill. Rubs make it easier to achieve a nice sear because of their dry nature. In order to sear a marinated piece of meat, you’d have to wait for moisture to completely evaporate. If your rub includes sugar, the caramelization will make achieving a nice crust even easier. Just be sure to keep a close eye on the grill; sugar can go from caramelized to burnt pretty quickly.

Start exploring the world of rubs and marinades with the recipes below. Adding flavor doesn’t have to stop here. After your protein comes off of the grill, adding a sauce can introduce new flavors to the dish. Bright and herbal sauces like chimichurri or salsa verde are a perfect complement to grilled steak and chicken. For a super easy flavor boost, keep it simple and brush store bought barbecue sauce on your cooked meat.

Lemony Tangy Grilled Chicken 

  • 1 Cup Greek yogurt
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Zest of 1 lemon 
  • ¼ Cup olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped 
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp paprika 
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  • 1 Tbsp fresh mint, roughly chopped 
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast or thighs 
  1. To make the marinade, combine all ingredients except the chicken in a large bowl. Whisk to thoroughly combine. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Season with salt and pepper on both sides, and add the seasoned chicken to the bowl of marinade. Turn to coat. Allow to marinate in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. 
  1. Preheat your grill to maintain a temperature of 450-500°F. Oil the grill grates. Grill chicken for 7-8 minutes per side, or until browned and cooked through. 

Grilled Chicken with All-Purpose Dry Rub

  • 2 tsp paprika 
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin 
  • 1 tsp thyme 
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder 
  • 1 tsp brown sugar 
  • 1lb boneless-skinless chicken breast or thighs 

1. To make the dry rub combine all of the ingredients except chicken in a large bowl,. Mix to thoroughly combine. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Season with salt, pepper, and enough dry rub to coat both sides.

2. Preheat your grill to maintain a temperature of 450-500°F. Oil the grill grates. Grill the chicken for 7-8 minutes per side, or until browned and cooked through. This rub would also work well on beef, pork, or even shrimp.

Find even more grilling tips in the Blue Apron guide to grilling 

How to Grill Inside

For some, summer is grilling season. That’s great in theory, but in practice, not everyone has a grill. Apartment dwellers shouldn’t be left out of the fun just because they don’t have easy access to a yard. Blue Apron Chef Andrew Mumma set out to find the best way to enjoy the flavor of the grill without starting a fire in your home.

grilling inside
Cook in > cook out

Chef Andrew tested out three different methods, but the simplest technique prevailed. An indoor smoker filled his home with smoke, and left foods with a bitter taste that bore little resemblance to the grill. The electric griddle was easier to control, but couldn’t deliver the grill’s signature char or grill marks. After testing, the humble grill pan emerged as the best way to grill indoors, it getting outside just isn’t an option. 

How to use a grill pan

A grill pan is a heavy pan with raised lines that mimic the grates of a grill. It’s used on the stovetop like a traditional skillet. When it comes to grill pans, the heavier the better. With a material like cast iron, not only will you be able to get the pan hotter, it will retain heat better once food is added. 

how to use a grill pan
A staub grill pan

Although it isn’t an exact replica of a grill, a grill pan will help develop a nice char on meat and vegetables. To achieve this, the pan needs to get very hot. Preheat the pan on the stove before adding anything, and don’t be afraid if you start to see some smoke. It’s normal for a grill pan to get very smoky. Just make sure the hood fan is turned up to the highest setting, and an exterior window is open to air things out a bit. 

Use the grill pan for chicken breasts, then slice and serve over rice with barbecue sauce, or alongside a panzanella.

For a vegetarian option brush sliced eggplant with olive oil, and incorporate into a grilled eggplant sandwich or salad

Find even more grilling tips in the Blue Apron guide to grilling 

How to Grill (Almost) Any Type of Protein

When it comes to grilling protein, the most reliable way to tell if your burger or steak is done is to check the internal temperature. Of course, not everyone grills with a spatula in one hand and a thermometer in the other. If you know what to look for, a combination of your senses and a timer should be more than enough to execute a perfectly grilled dinner. Consider this chart the answer to all of your quick grilling questions, covering everything from steak grilling times to how to grill shrimp. 

grilling temperature chart

How to grill steak

The chart above is an excellent guideline, but steak grilling times will vary based on the cut and thickness of the meat, the heat of the grill, and the taste preferences of the grillmaster. If you want to check your steak for doneness without a thermometer, there’s an old-school trick you can use. Press your thumb against your pointer finger like this: 👌. With your opposite hand, feel the fleshy part of your palm at the base of your thumb. It should feel soft and springy. That’s the texture of a rare steak. Now, press your middle finger against your thumb, and feel again. Does your palm feel slightly firmer? That’s medium rare. Repeat this process with your ring finger and pinky to approximate the texture of a medium-well and well-done steak 

For the best possible result, be sure to season your meat generously with salt at least 40 minutes before hitting the grill. You should see the salt start to dissolve, and the surface of the steak will develop a light sheen. If excess moisture has built up on the outside of the steak, make sure to pat dry before placing on the grill. Wet meat won’t achieve the perfect sear you’re hoping for.

how to grill meat, steak
Grilled steak with potato salad

How to grill chicken

From boneless skinless breasts to whole birds, chicken is a great choice for the grill. Unlike beef, where there is some accounting for taste, it’s essential that chicken be cooked completely through. If you’re not sure if the meat is done, cut into a piece. If the chicken is completely cooked, the center should be opaque and white, and the juices flowing out should be clear. 

Before you introduce the chicken to the grill, season it thoroughly with salt and pepper or a rub of your choice. Whether you’re using gas or charcoal, preheat the grill for at least 15 minutes. Grill your chicken over the hottest part of the grill, flipping halfway through. Follow the guidelines above to find grill times for chicken breasts and thighs. Once you’ve mastered those, perhaps it’s time to move on to something more ambitious, like a spatchcoked whole bird

How to grill pork chops

Grilled pork chops can be elegant, rustic, or somewhere in between. The one thing they should never be is dry. To achieve a caramelized exterior and a juicy interior, don’t be afraid to leave those chops alone. After heating the grill, place the pork chops over high heat and don’t touch them. Flip after 3-4 minutes, and then step away again. After another 3-4 minutes, pull them off the grill, let them rest, and enjoy. If you were to flip the chops multiple times, it would take longer to achieve browning on the exterior of the meat, increasing the likelihood that the center would be overcooked.  

How to grill shrimp 

One of the most beautiful things about grilling shrimp is the sheer speed. Just 2-3 minutes per side, and dinner is ready. Of course, shrimp are small, and you don’t want to risk losing one through the grill grates. Grilling shrimp will be easier if you keep them together either in a grill basket or with skewers. If using wooden skewers, just be sure to soak them in water for at least 30 minutes to reduce the chance of them catching on fire. Watch your shrimp closely. When they’re nicely plump and opaque, pull them off and enjoy. 

how to grill meat, shrimp
Grilled shrimp on skewers

How long to rest meat 

No matter what protein you’re working with, be sure to give it time to rest after you take it off of the grill. Leaving your meat alone for just five minutes before cutting into it will allow the juices to redistribute, guaranteeing you a moist flavorful meal. 

Find even more grilling tips in the Blue Apron guide to grilling 

Make Chicken Noodle Soup with Whatever You Have

Chef Lili Dagan never lets a missing ingredient slow her down. Here’s how she makes classic noodle chicken soup with whatever she has on hand.

Chicken noodle soup
A bowl of pure comfort

I’m a recipe riffer. Most of the time, I have every intention of cooking a recipe as written, but then I find I’m missing parsley, or there’s a bunch of carrots in the fridge about to go bad, or the crushing existential dread has generally derailed my original plans. All of a sudden, I’m riffing. It just happens.

Last week, I ordered a farm box from a local CSA, and I impulsively tacked whole chicken on to my order. Who doesn’t need a whole chicken? Like many these days, I’ve been craving classic comfort foods. When I saw thunder in the forecast, I decided chicken soup was the move. Luckily, the Blue Apron cookbook has a recipe that I love. 

Problems arose right away. The first step of this particular recipe is to poach your chicken in five quarts of chicken stock along with some aromatics and herbs. When I went to collect my ingredients, I realized that I didn’t have the leeks that the recipe called for. I did, however, have some huge scallions. I also only had three quarts of stock, and vegetable stock at that. I decided I could stretch it with some water. That’s how riffing starts.

I poached my chicken in the vegetable stock, along with the few sprigs of yellowing parsley and chives that I had on hand. To make up for my lackluster aromatics,  I added a pinch of Blue Apron Italian seasoning. While that simmered away, I prepped my soup vegetables: some carrots from my farm box, some almost-past-its-prime celery, and a rutabaga. I found half an onion leftover from making tortilla española, and tossed that in as well. It’s like freestyle jazz. 

After an hour of low simmering, I pulled out the chicken, let it cool, and picked the meat off the bones. I strained the broth through a mesh sieve, and added it back in the pot with the prepped vegetables. That all simmers for about 20 minutes, or until the vegetables are a pleasing texture. There’s room for interpretation here too, I like my vegetables to still have a little bite to them. Some members of my family, judging by the soup they serve as Passover, prefer their vegetables very soft. Do what feels good for you. A few minutes before the vegetables are done, add the chicken meat back in. 

For this meal, I cooked the noodles separately. I wasn’t planning on serving the soup all at once, and cooking the noodles separately extends their shelf life. 

This, my friends, is where I am going to give you the trick for the most delightful chicken noodle soup. Place the cooked noodles in the bottom of your soup bowl. While they are still hot, use a vegetable peeler to layer them with thick strips of parmesan cheese. This guarantees ribbons of cheese will swim through your soup like salty comet tails. It’s positively delightful.

chicken noodle soup with cheese
A cheesy chef tip

Top your noodles with your hot soup, whatever herbs you have leftover, and more cheese (if you want). Some hot sauce? You do you! Eat with whatever spoon sparks the most joy. For me, it’s a dumpling spoon. But if you don’t have one, riff it.

Classic Chicken Noodle Soup

Chicken and Broth

  • 1 whole chicken (31⁄2 to 4 pounds)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 5 quarts chicken stock
  • 4 carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 2 leeks, coarsely chopped and cleaned 
  • 3 stalks celery, coarsely chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled and halved 2 bay leaves
  • 1 small sprig rosemary
  • 6 sprigs flat-leaf parsley
  • 3 sprigs thyme

Soup

  • 3 carrots, peeled and cut into 1⁄4-inch-thick rounds
  • 3 stalks celery, thinly sliced
  • 2 leeks, thinly sliced and cleaned 
  • 12 ounces dried egg noodles
  • 1⁄4 cup coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped dill

1. Temper the chicken. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Season the inside and outside with salt and pepper. Let stand at room temperature for 1 hour.

2. Make the broth. In a large saucepan or soup pot, heat the stock to a simmer on high. Add the carrots, leeks, celery, garlic, bay leaves, rosemary, parsley, and thyme. Cook, stirring occasionally, 6 to 7 minutes, until the vegetables are slightly softened. Add the chicken, breast side down, making sure that the chicken is mostly submerged in stock and resting on top of the vegetables. Heat until just simmering. Reduce the heat to medium. Cook for 55 to 65 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thigh registers 180°F. Use tongs to carefully transfer the chicken to a large bowl to cool slightly.

3. Strain the broth and shred the chicken. Pour the broth through a fine-mesh strainer into another large pot; discard the vegetables. Season the broth with salt. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the bones. Remove and discard the skin. Use two forks or your fingers to shred the meat or use a knife to cut into bite-size pieces.

4. Cook the vegetables and noodles. Add the carrots, celery, and leeks to the soup and season with salt and pepper. Cook on medium at a simmer for 25 to 30 minutes, until the carrots are tender. Add the noodles and cook according to the time on the package until tender. 

5. Finish and serve the soup. Add the shredded chicken and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 2 to 3 minutes, until heated through and well combined. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in the parsley and dill. Divide the soup between bowls. Serve with the bread, if desired.

Finished chicken noodle soup
Enjoy