Be it ever so humble—if not exactly sexy—chicken is a dinnertime mainstay. It doesn’t have the boldness and gusto of a good thick steak or the come-hither flavor of a rich pork tenderloin, but it’s lean, mean and usually affordable. And chicken has something those other meats don’t have—it adapts itself to an endless list of flavors and it cooks nicely in a hot minute. When you’re on the go, running late, or just too tired to put a lot of thought into what’s for dinner, chicken is there for you, just waiting to be transformed into something delicious, and it doesn’t even mind if you rush the recipe. Now that’s an accomodating ingredient.
Here are five of our favorite tried-and-true chicken recipes to try on a busy evening or after a long day. Pair any of them with a side salad, a sip of something special, and you’ll be sitting—dare we say it—in the fabled catbird seat.