I really don’t enjoy chicken. But my husband and I eat it fairly regularly. To disguise the chicken flavor (ick), my favorite ways to eat it involve drowning it in sauce of some sort. Chicken paprikas, for instance. Or Mulligatawny soup. Or coq au vin. Or Jen’s Best Chicken Ever. As long as there is a healthy 5,000-1 sauce-to-chicken ratio, I’m good.
Part of why I hate chicken is because I hate dealing with raw chicken. Ew. It smells and it’s slimy and cold and there are red things in it and ick. Just ick.
My husband and I have dealt with my chichekn squeamishness thus far in our relationship by appointing my husband Chief Chicken Dealer Wither (or Handler, I suppose, would be more clear and also more grammatical, what, I’m tired). But with his erratic schedule, that has led to a lot of nights of last-minute scavenging for non-chicken options.
I, of course, can handle chicken. I just prefer not to. But sometimes, in the name of family harmony and hunger prevention, I just suck it up and deal with it. With a knife and fork and no actual hand-to-chicken contact, mind you.
But aside from being gross, raw chicken takes a long time to deal with. And now that there is this BABY who takes up all of our time, you know, with her wanting to be fed and changed and bathed and otherwise cared for, we just don’t always have time to go through the whole de-red-thinging of the chicken and then the de-rawing (cooking) of the chicken after that. Because pretty much once the baby goes to bed, I am ready to go to bed, and it’s kind of difficult to fit in chicken nonsense between putting her to bed and going to bed myself, especially as of late when she is going to bed between 7:00 and 9:00. Like, the whole two hours is used up in putting her to sleep. Like, she falls asleep and then I put her in her crib and she wakes up, and then I say, time to learn how to fall asleep somewhere other than my arms, Buddy (which she CAN, as she does it EVERY DAY at daycare), and loiter around outside her room while she fusses and gets up on all fours and rocks back and forth and then rolls onto her back and slams both legs down on the mattress in a very elephant-crashing-through-the-ceiling kind of way, and then my husband (if he’s home) and I have hushed conversations about whether it’s time to go rescue her from Falling Asleep until the fussing/all-foursing/rolling-over/leg-thumping wears me down and I go collect her and start the process all over again.
Wow, apparently it’s possible to recreate the rising sense of panic that indicates Evening Hysteria just by writing about it!
Our local grocery store spoiled us by selling pulled chicken as part of their (extensive) prepared foods offerings. It was so easy to just… grab a little container of pulled chicken breast and toss it into whatever soup we’re working on – oh, I guess I should have specified from the get go that this “tip” which is turning into a lengthy diatribe mainly applies to things like soup and chicken paprikas and stir fry, not really to some of the other things I listed up there – and voila! Dinner!
Okay, to be honest, there’s some other stuffed I just voilaed right over, like chopping veggies and sautéing onions and adding spices and stuff, but I figured you would read between the lines. But I am ALSO going to figure that maybe you are tired like me and your brain has also been dulled by endless off-key renditions of the Hokey Pokey so I am filling in the lines anyway.
So we got used to this super convenient pre-cooked, pre-pulled chicken… and then the grocery store stopped carrying it. Or other people caught on to its wonders and started snatching it off the shelves before we got there, which would be pretty difficult seeing as we go to the grocery store at the crack of dawn these days because BABIES. We tried to compensate by buying rotisserie chicken, but de-breasting a rotisserie chicken takes time and is wasteful (for us, as we don’t eat the skin or the dark meat) and is also expensive. Seriously. $7.99 for a rotisserie chicken? That seems EGREGIOUS. (I don’t think I used “egregious” in its most accurate form there, but right now it’s conveying my particular level of outrage about the cost of rotisserie chicken, so I’m letting it stay.)
All of this build up is to say that I have begun doing something that possibly you already do, in which case, this whole post was just a straight up waste of time for you and I’m sorry.
What I do is, I buy a bunch of (raw) chicken breasts when they are on sale, and then I go immediately home and, while the baby is asleep in her carseat (on the floor of the kitchen, not in the car), I cut out the red things and other badness, and I chop a couple of carrots and a stalk or two of celery into very rough inch-long or so pieces, and I chop a half an onion in similar chunks, and I grab a few cloves of garlic and break them in half with my hands (like a beast!), and I throw the veg into the bottom of a roasting pan, toss in a cup or so of chicken broth or water, throw in a few sprigs of thyme if I have some handy, cover them with a cooling rack or other perforated food-elevator (read: thing that elevates the food above a surface, not thing that moves food from ground floor to penthouse), and throw the chicken breasts on the rack/elevated-surface, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and toss into a 400 degree oven for a while. Fifteen minutes, I think, but last time I turned off the timer and forgot about the chicken for an unspecified amount of time. Then I flip the chicken over and cook for another 10 minutes or so.
You’ll note that this activity requires a lot of throwing, but that’s because I am racing to get the chicken in the oven before the baby wakes up.
Once the chicken is cool, I shred it. Or cut it into bite sized pieces. Then I freeze the shreds/bites in Ziploc freezer bags.
If I do this every time chicken is on sale, I build up a nice cache of frozen, shredded chicken. And it is SO EASY. Just grab a bag, toss into… whatever… cook for a while and voila!