Thursday, November 5, 2009

Chicken & Rice Base: A Pre-Cooking Shortcut

I'm still on the hunt for meals that can be thrown together on "teaching nights." A few weeks ago, boneless chicken breasts were on sale so I decided to try a pre-cooking experiment.
"Chicken & Rice Base" is a meal-sized bag of frozen, pre-cooked chicken and rice waiting for veggies & flavor. It can serve as the base for soup, a casserole, or what we call "glop" around here, too thick to be called a soup or stew.

  • Boneless chicken breasts or other raw chicken
  • Rice
  • Chicken broth or water
  1. Steam the chicken until thoroughly cooked but not tough.
  2. Cook the rice in broth or water.
  3. Let both rest until cool enough to handle.
  4. Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces.
  5. Freeze together in meal-sized portions for later use.
Some uses for chicken and rice base:
  • Simmer it in chicken broth until hot. Add lots of diced roasted red peppers and sundried tomato pesto in a jar. Simmer a bit more. Finally, add some freshly grated parmesan or other hard cheese.
  • SautĂ© mushrooms, onions and garlic in olive oil. Add baby spinach and a bit of broth. Cover and let the spinach soften. Add thawed chicken and rice base, salt, pepper & nutmeg and heat through.
  • Sweat chopped carrots and celery in a little olive oil, add chicken broth and chicken & rice base. Throw in fresh parsley, salt & pepper. VoilĂ , chicken & rice soup!
  • Thaw the chicken and rice base in the microwave. Add plain yogurt flavored with some garam marsala, curry powder or just cinnamon. Finally, add golden raisins and slivered almonds. Vaguely south asian chicken and rice. With cucumbers and onions in vinegar as a side, you have a meal.
There are unlimited possibilities. Homemade convenience food without the salt and mystery ingredients of store bought.

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Imprecise & Inexpensive

Two themes predominate in my approach to cooking. 1. Daily cooking of flavorful food need not be a precise art. 2. You can be an adventurous cook on a budget. Cooking and eating should be fun for both cookers and eaters.