I use chicken in a lot of things. It’s the one meat we really eat consistently; we don’t eat a lot of red meat at all, pork makes me sick, fish is unappealing most of the time, and shellfish is often too expensive. But chicken! Oh, chicken. I buy chicken in bulk. And one of my favorite things to do with bulk chicken — boneless skinless breasts in particular — is this recipe.
1/4 cup olive oil
1/3 cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon dried italian seasoning
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
Add first four ingredients to large ziploc bag. Mix by shaking vigorously. Add chicken breasts, and smoosh the whole thing around to make sure they’re coated. Set aside to marinate while you do other things, anywhere from twenty minutes to an hour or two. It doesn’t really matter. Grill until meat is no longer pink when cut. I use my George Foreman Grill — it takes about ten to fifteen minutes to cook the chicken.
Now the cool part: I use two of the breasts for whatever we’re having immediately — last night it was fajitas, so I shredded them — and pop the others into individual sandwich bags and stick them in the freezer. Now I’ve got cooked chicken on hand for whenever I need it. It defrosts in just a few minutes in the microwave, and comes out as juicy and tender as if it had just been cooked. It’s perfect for any recipe that needs pre-cooked chicken; I use it for fajitas, pasta alfredo, baked cheesy chicken casseroles, and any number of other things. If you make up an even bigger batch at once, you’ll have enough chicken on hand to do pretty much anything. I make four at a time because a) that’s how my grocery packages their ‘value packs’ and b) that’s how many fit on my Foreman grill.
This has saved me SO much time and stress. Even if I have nothing planned for dinner, there’s nothing defrosted, nothing in the fridge, and no inspiration forthcoming, if I’ve got this chicken in the freezer there’s always something I can serve. Here’s one of my defaults:
Chicken Pasta Bake
2 cooked chicken breasts, chopped into 1 inch cubes
1 pound penne pasta
1 jar alfredo sauce
1 cup mozzarella cheese*
1 cup cheddar cheese*
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cook and drain pasta, then return to pot on medium heat. Add alfredo sauce, chicken, and cheeses, and mix thoroughly. Pour into a 9×13 baking dish, top with a little extra cheddar. Bake for twenty minutes or until cheese is thoroughly melted and the top is beginning to turn a light golden brown.
This is great served with a simple salad and some crusty bread. Dinner is on the table in no time. This dish serves four easily — the two of us eat leftovers for a couple of days!
*Another tip: I keep grated mozzarella and cheddar cheeses in the freezer. I buy the huge bags of pre-grated cheese and toss them right into the freezer when I get them home. They freeze just fine, and I’ve always got cheese on hand for anything. Most things involving grated cheese get cooked or heated, so it’s no problem that it’s frozen when I put it into the mix.
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Tags: cheese, chicken, fast, grilled, pasta, simple