- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Unless your supermarket sells fresh, unwrapped poultry, you’re not able to buy individual boneless, skinless chicken breast halves. Consider yourself lucky if you manage to find chicken breasts sold by the 1-pound package. You may have to buy chicken in large value packs of 2 to 3 pounds.

When you’re cooking for two, that can be a problem. You’re getting three to four times as much chicken as you and your partner are going to eat in one meal. You can cook the entire amount and live on chicken for a few days, or you can shove the leftovers into the freezer.

Neither option is especially convenient or appealing. But you have one choice that’s practical and useful.

Take the chicken you’re not using in a recipe and simmer it in chicken broth. Place the chicken in a pot and add just enough broth to cover it. Bring to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes or until the breast meat is white and firm to the center. To check, cut into one breast half.

Immediately refrigerate the cooked chicken to chill it. Then pop it into resealable plastic bags, one chicken breast half per bag. Press out any air and place the chicken in front of the freezer compartment, so you don’t ignore it.

Reach for a packet of frozen chicken whenever you need a quick base for a meal. If you plan ahead, place the frozen chicken in the refrigerator overnight. Otherwise, microwave the chicken at medium to medium-high until it thaws.

Having cooked chicken on hand is especially welcome now when you’ve got the crush of holiday preparations. Combine salad ingredients and chicken for a nutritious and quick meal. Here are two main-dish salads that mix well with chicken.

Chicken and potato salad

2 large lettuce leaves

8 ounces cooked new potatoes (about 4 small)

1 small yellow or orange bell pepper, cored, seeded and cut into thin slices

1 large chicken breast half, cooked, boned and cut into ½-inch dice

2 tablespoons minced chives

1/4 cup sliced almonds

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Arrange a lettuce leaf on 2 plates. Divide the potatoes, pepper, chicken, chives and almonds between the plates. Combine oil, vinegar, salt and pepper in a cup. Drizzle over the salads. Makes 2 servings.

Chicken, avocado and pecan salad

1/4 cup pecan halves

6 hearts of Romaine lettuce leaves (see note)

1 small ripe avocado, peeled, pitted and sliced

1/4 cup dried sweetened cranberries

1 small chicken breast half, cooked, boned and cut into ½-inch dices (about ½ cup diced chicken)

Curry vinaigrette (recipe follows)

Place pecan halves in small skillet. Roast over medium heat for 2 minutes or until pecans are lightly browned and aromatic. Shake frequently. Set aside.

Line a large plate with lettuce leaves. Arrange avocado slices over lettuce.

Sprinkle with pecans and cranberries. Top with chicken. Prepare vinaigrette dressing and pour over salad just before serving, or pass on the side if you prefer.

Makes 2 servings.

CURRY VINAIGRETTE

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

1/4 teaspoon curry powder

1/4 teaspoon sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

2½ tablespoons canola oil

Combine vinegar, curry powder, sugar, salt and pepper in a cup.

Stir to dissolve sugar.

Stir in oil.

TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES

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