November 16, 2017
A couple of weeks ago it was time for dinner and I was somewhat stymied by what I was going to cook. Usually I try to have a plan made earlier in the day but on this particular day, my plan to have a plan didn’t quite pan out.
I’d been having a hankering for chicken on a salad and I had lettuce and a bag of individual quick frozen breasts on hand; however, I wasn’t terribly excited about just slapping a plain ol’ piece of poultry on my romaine.
And so I rummaged through the pantry for inspiration and happened upon this little gem.
Usually you mix the contents of this marinade packet with vinegar, oil and water and let the meat sit in it for a while but I wondered what would happen if I started with a tablespoon or two of olive oil (and a little butter for extra flavor) and then sprinkled in a little marinade.
It doesn’t look real inspiring but this is the first step on the road to tastiness.
As my oils and seasonings were doing their thing, I took thee breasts out of the freezer and defrosted them about halfway in the microwave before cutting them into smallish pieces. (Tip: cutting half-frozen meat is easier than cutting it when it is completely thawed.) The reason I cut them is so that they will cook faster; you could also cook them whole (or cut in half) if you weren’t pressed for time.
I threw the chicken into the pan and let the magic begin.
After about 10-12 minutes of occasional stirring, I did the “is it done?” test which consisted of taking a large spoon and trying to cut a piece in half with it. I didn’t use a knife because I wanted the chicken to be tender enough to cut with a non-sharp edge. When a piece cut easily and wasn’t pink inside, I was done! (Or at least the chicken was done.)
And then came the fun part–compiling the salad.
On this particular night I happened to have on hand pecans, sliced strawberries, crispy red peppers, and grated carrots. (Tomatoes, shredded cheese, boiled eggs and diced onion are just a few additional ingredients that would also be great.)
I added a piece of oven toast and my salad (and my happiness) were complete. Start to finish: about 20 minutes.
The great thing about this recipe is that the chicken doesn’t need constant tending; as long as you give it a quick stir every few minutes, you can spend the rest of the cooking time preparing the salad toppings and getting the toast in the oven. When the chicken is done, the rest of the meal is done and you are golden!
I love that there are so many marinade flavors to choose from so you can experiment and find your favorite. Also, using a smaller portion of the package cuts down on sodium AND means you can get 2-3 meals from one package. (I use about a third of a package per pound of chicken.) And if you wanted to do several pounds at a time, you could freeze the rest for other meals. There is really not a whole lot more time or work involved.
Another tip: If you do make extra chicken, flash freeze it rather than dumping it all in a Ziploc bag. Simply put some foil or parchment paper on a cookie sheet, and then spread out the pieces of chicken. Freeze for at least an hour and THEN dump in a Ziploc. That way the pices stay separate and you can reach in and grab three pieces or ten pieces, as needed.)
I almost always keep a bag of frozen chicken breasts on hand so this is a great emergency meal that we can enjoy for about a quarter of what we would pay in a restaurant.
And if you happened not to have lettuce in the house, you could just eat the chicken with rice or a baked potato side. Or you could even throw it into a tortilla with a topping or two.
There is no bad way to eat good chicken
What about you? Do you have any tips to make this idea even better?
Do you have any great quick meal cooking tips?
Thrift stores, fuzzy socks
and conversing with my Yorkie
are all on the list of things I love.