Kids can be set in their ways when it comes to food, with certain things they like and others that they won’t even contemplate trying. Of course, as they grow up and try new foods, their taste buds develop and what once may have been completely unacceptable suddenly becomes their new favourite. It’s only a question of time!
In order to get your kids to enjoy different flavours, it’s a good idea to use a base that they’re happy with. Chicken is a great meat for family meals as it’s reasonably priced and it’s a mild-tasting meat that can be cooked in so many different ways. If your kids are stuck on the lure of McDonald’s chicken nuggets, try widening their tasting experiences with the dishes below.
Cajun Chicken with Wraps
While you can buy ready-mixed cajun flavouring at the supermarket, the beauty of making your own Cajun spice mix is that you can add as much or as little spice as your family can cope with. If this is a first-time try for your kids, then go easy on the cayenne pepper. It’s best to start out with a mild version to get the kids used to the flavours, and then you can increase the heat next time you cook it.
Take a pack of chicken thigh fillets and cut them into centimetre wide strips. Place in a bowl and mix with half a pot of sour cream, some lime zest and salt. Schwartz offer very reasonably-priced Cajun spice, and as per this BBC Good Food recipe, you should add two teaspoons of your Cajun spice mix for flavouring. On a baking tray covered with parchment, spread the chicken mix out. Cook it under a hot grill for about 15 minutes, turning half-way through to ensure the chicken is thoroughly cooked.
Serve with wraps, which the kids can fill at the table with the cajun chicken, sweetcorn, salsa and salad, according to their own preferences. Use the rest of the sour cream as a topping too.
Sticky Chinese Chicken
It’s not all about cooking up a storm in the kitchen, either. There is a whole host of chicken dishes available at your local Chinese restaurant, and any variation on a ‘sticky chicken’ classic is well worth an order. What’s more, nowadays you can sample these delights without having to leave the house, with food delivery service Deliveroo bringing restaurant-quality food direct to your door.
You’ll find chicken in bite-sized morsels nestling in noodles or stir-fried rice, or in a chicken with a black bean or cashew nut sauce that you can pair with rice or noodles. Sometimes, though, Chinese restaurant sauces aren’t always to young children’s tastes, and some of the veg in a Chinese dish may not go down too well. Bamboo shoots, for instance, can be an acquired taste.
To introduce the kids to Chinese flavours with some home cooking, take a pack of chicken thighs or drummers. In a separate bowl, or to save time in the roasting dish you’re going to cook them in, add equal quantities of soy sauce, honey, and tomato ketchup. Two tablespoons of each will usually be plenty. Add some crushed garlic and salt and pepper. Mix everything together, then add in your chicken, with the skin still on. Coat the chicken with the sauce, spread out the pieces and cook at 180 degrees for an hour, covering with foil after the first 20 minutes to ensure the chicken doesn’t dry out.
The result is sticky and sweet chicken with a slight tang of soy that usually goes down well, especially when served with rice and a vegetable like canned sweetcorn. An extra cooking sauce can be used to add flavour to the rice.
Thai Massaman Curry
Don’t be afraid of trying curry out on the kids, especially if you make the curry paste yourself, where you can decide how spicy to make it. The Massaman curry is one where the sauce is made with coconut milk, which results in a creamy and flavourful dish rather than with a focus on the heat. Try this The Spruce recipe and see what the kids make of it.
Although the ingredient list is quite long, as there are no ready-made curry pastes involved, when it comes to cooking this dish, it’s straightforward. You may make life easier if you measure out and cut up all the ingredients before you start cooking, though.
Of course, with any new dish you cook for the family, there’s a chance someone won’t like it. But it sure beats the tedium of serving up the same dishes on your dinner table week in and week out, and if cooking something new introduces the kids to new flavours, so much the better!
Like Chicken? Try this slow cooker recipe.