A couple of years ago I made a short lived effort to rebel against the ubiquity of chicken on the menu but quickly accepted defeat, it's not just that it's hard to avoid, vegetarians excepted everyone seems to like it, most especially children who are otherwise fussy. If I can't escape chicken (though I could try harder to do that) I can still look for variety in the way I cook it and Diana Henry is very much the writer to help with that. Her books reflect the way I like to cook and the way my kitchen works; there are things to potter over, that will impress, that can be thrown together after work with a minimum of fuss, that will use up leftovers, and perhaps most important in this case - things that satisfy a desire for variety.
As Henry says, cooking chicken is basically easy and there's no reason to complicate it, so whilst there is advice on braising and roasting it's kept to a minimum, and she's also made the decision to dispense with many of the obvious classics - they're easy to find elsewhere. Instead what we get is a really useful compendium of chicken recipes taking inspiration from around the world and which should meet every occasion.
As well as the actual recipes - broken down into sections that cover suppers, spicy chicken, Sunday lunches and posh dinners, salads, feasts, barbecues, comfort food, and left overs - there are also short essays on how chicken loves fruit, cream, citrus, and herbs all of which open up avenues for experiment without the need for specific instruction.
There is a foodie complaint about the majority of chicken on the market - that it lacks flavour, but in so far as that's the case it's also why we all love it so much. Quick to cook, and happy to be dressed up in so many different ways there's much to be said for it. The only downside, and the reason I made that half hearted attempt to resist, is welfare. Cheap chicken probably hasn't been treated very well. When it's a whole bird the range in price can be startling (it surprises me at any rate) and certainly serves as an indicator of how it was treated in life. It should matter how the things we eat have been produced - but I'm inclined to get carried away on this subject so will leave it at that.
In the end this is the sort of cookbook that you pick up thinking why would I need this and end up thinking oh, I definitely need this (which happens to me a lot). Having a recipe suitable for any mood or occasion Is great, but as ever with Diana Henry's books, her voice is the clincher. I really enjoy her writing on, and approach to, food. Each book she releases has become an eagerly anticipated event to be counted down towards on my a****n wish list. 'A Bird in the Hand' is an excellent addition to the collection (and I've already bought a second copy to give to a friend).