Quick Chicken Skillet Meal

The forecast calls for a high of around 93 degrees Fahrenheit today in our area, so I definitely didn’t want to be standing over a hot stove for a long time to make lunch. Here’s what I did instead:

Melt six or seven tablespoons of Simply Ghee in a skillet over medium heat. Slice up three large pearl onions — I get mine from a Lancaster County organic farmer via Pure Sprouts — and separate them into rings. Place the rings in the skillet, give them a quick stir, lower the heat to medium-low, and cover the skillet.

While the onions are cooking, cut one pound of chicken breast into bite-sized pieces. Add them to the skillet and re-cover it, raising the heat just a bit. Simmer the chicken until it’s cooked all the way through, which you can check with a meat thermometer or by slicing the biggest piece in half.

While the chicken is simmering, wash and slice one package of shiitake mushrooms (3.5 ounces, about eight mushrooms). When the chicken is completely cooked, add the mushrooms to the skillet, leave the cover off, and raise the heat to medium-high. Cook the whole mixture together while stirring it. When the mushrooms have cooked nicely, remove everything (except the melted ghee) with a slotted spoon to a serving dish, mix in 1/2 cup of cashews, and cover the dish to keep it warm.

Add two tablespoons of cornstarch to the melted ghee and whisk it in over low heat. Add 3/4 cup of water and continue to whisk as you raise the heat to medium. Whisk until the sauce thickens, then add salt and pepper to taste, pour it over the chicken mixture, and serve the dish immediately.

Cheating

As I’ve mentioned before, when I cook, I take a whole food (a vegetable, fruit, meat, or fish) or some combination of whole foods, and I saute/fry/bake/roast it with a combination of seasonings and/or acid and/or fat. Occasionally, however, I cheat. If you’re pressed for time, there’s no shame in short-cutting by cooking a main ingredient or two with a well-chosen commercially prepared sauce. I use only glass jarred sauces, because I’m concerned about the BPA lining in metal cans, and I write down the ingredients so I can try to mix my own version when I have more time and more ingredients on hand.

Here are three of my favorite “cheating” recipes:

Sesame Ginger Pork Chops

Place four boneless pork chops (roughly 3/4 inch thick) in a Pyrex baking dish. Cover with Annie’s Naturals Organic Sesame Ginger salad dressing. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 90 minutes. Confirm done-ness of pork with a meat thermometer.

French Shrimp

Gently heat 1 pound of cooked, deveined shrimp in a skillet with 1/2 bottle of Annie’s Naturals Organic French salad dressing. Pour the whole skillet into a 9×9-inch Pyrex baking dish (can you tell I love my Pyrex?) and bake at 400 for 20 minutes. Serve plain, over rice, or over egg noodles.

…and here’s one for the vegetarians:

Indian-Style Rice and Beans

I’m not of Indian descent, so this is not an authentic recipe. However, the sauce is richly seasoned with south Asian spices.

Rinse 2 cups of lentils and remove any non-lentil bits that may be present. In a Dutch / French oven (like this awesome one my parents gave me), heat the lentils to a boil (slowly–you never want to blast the heat on a Dutch / French oven… get there slowly with a slightly tilted lid) with 3 cups of water and 1 container of this amazing tikka masala sauce. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook for 60 minutes. Check the lentils periodically to ensure that the liquid hasn’t boiled away. Add more water as necessary, but don’t add too much–you don’t want them to get soupy.

While you are cooking the lentils, prepare 2 cups of rice according to package directions.

Serve lentils over rice.

Simple Chicken Salad

Occasionally, I’m called upon to bring food to a family gathering. Here is a dish that you can make in advance and then bring in one of these insulated bags to serve cold right away.

Bake 6 pounds of chicken breasts until internal temperature reaches 180 degrees (approximately 90 minutes at 350 degrees, uncovered). When the cooked chicken breasts are cool enough to eat, cut them into chunks about twice what you would consider “bite-sized.” Mix with 2-3 tablespoons of chicken seasonings and mayonnaise (how much you use depends on your taste and how concerned you are about your mayo intake). There you have it!