Show Me What You're Working With

This Sunday was unlike most in that I did not get my ducks in a row for the work week. We did not venture to the grocers or farmer’s market. I did not give the week’s meals a moment of my attention. I instead woke up at a snail’s pace. We leisurely brewed some coffee. As it dripped, I surfed without direction on my iPad while he became engrossed in Sports Center. I left the house to attend my yoga class at 9.00 am. Sometime just shy of 11.00 am I returned home. We marveled at the incredible weather and jumped in the car to have an early lunch at a local vegetarian favorite.  

I ordered the usual, a big salad with delicate lettuce, cashews, avocado, zucchini ribbons, creamy goat cheese and the best vegetarian burger in the city. Matthew, a relentless fan of all food Mexican, selected the chilaquiles. The soft corn tortillas came decorated with a poached egg, cotija cheese and the most marvelous green tomatillo salsa I have had in sometime. Contingent upon the chef, chilaquiles are basically gourmet nachos. These ones were phenomenal. After the marvelous lunch, we decided to prolong the afternoon and headed to a local neighborhood spot for adult refreshments. Following a crisp, New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and solid conversation, we returned home to cook for Sunday night football. At least there was a bit of preparation involved in my Sunday.

Come Monday, after a long day at the office, I was rudely reminded of how irksome it can be figuring out what to cook for dinner. Insert impatient groan here. At 6.00 pm, I had no game plan and was facing hunger of the wild boar category. The only ray of light in this situation was my being mildly pleased to see an empty refrigerator. Normally ours is haphazardly stuffed with goodies squeezed in here and tucked in there. Sometimes after a big shop I open the fridge and smile at all the goodies with which to work. This said, it can be a royal nuisance navigating a full fridge and finding what I need is usually an exercise in patience. I cannot wait to have a larger fridge. We are talking industrial size. Dream a little dream.

As we all know by now, I am a big fan of recycling in the kitchen. I always put odd ends in bags for chicken stock or future salads and if I do not use all of a can or tube of something, into a little Tupperware container it goes. Touch wood, we did have a few select goodies leftover from the Superbowl shindig including chipotle chilies in adobo sauce and a handful of limes ready for use. From one of the fridge drawer’s I pulled out two breasts of chicken I bought hurriedly on Saturday morning for a dinner that never materialized. I saw Wolf of Wall Street instead and enjoyed a bag of popcorn for dinner. Talk about the little things in life. I was in hog’s heaven. Popcorn is a rare treat and the movie variant takes the cake. Anyway, in addition to the poultry, I produced a lone head of cauliflower.

With a bit of strategic thinking, dinner was underway. Matthew agreed to grill; hoorah. Chicken on the grill is ready in no time and in my opinion, tastes far better than baked. We mixed the chilies with adobo sauce, lime juice and its zest, olive oil, garlic and a generous squeeze of honey.  Normally I like to let meat marinate overnight but this was clearly not happening. I threw everything in a bag and set the timer to ten minutes.  As our chicken fabrication rested on the counter, we cranked up the Weber. The resident grill master cooked both sides of the breast to perfection (I like mine almost charred) and the last five minutes, he basted cautiously. Thanks to the oil, stand back and watch the flames dance. Around the same time, I cut up and steamed the cauliflower. Once it was done (about ten minutes), I let it cool for approximately five minutes and then pulsed it in the Cuisinart until it resembled rice. To this I added ¼ cup of freshly grated pecorino, 1 tsp nutmeg, a pinch of salt and two cracks of pepper. Time Chef.

Once all was set and done, we had chicken with our no carb rice and were in business. This is an easy meal that you can put together in no time. If you don’t have chicken, use pork tenderloin. You can serve your meat with broccoli, a big salad, grilled asparagus, sautéed greens or roasted corn – whatever you fancy. Buy a can of your chipotle chilies on the international aisle of your grocer. We have actually started keeping a couple on hand in the pantry as they lend amazing flavor to most meats. When choosing limes, I like to make sure that they are good and ripe. Be sure to roll them on the counter before cutting. For whatever reason, I find them more challenging to juice than your usual lemon. Perhaps I am alone here. I have started keeping chicken breasts in the freezer placed in individual bags. This makes for easy grabbing the morning of and defrosting as the day marches on.

Chicken with Chipotle from the Can

For the Chicken

2 breasts of organic, all natural chicken
2 chipotle chilies from the can – chopped as best you can
1 TBS adobo sauce from the same can
3 TBS olive oil
3 TBS raw honey
4 cloves of garlic - chopped
3 limes – their juice and the zest of one
Kosher salt

How To

1. Mix the chipotle chilies, adobo sauce, olive oil, raw honey, garlic, lime juice and zest in a bowl.

2. Throw your chicken breasts in a plastic Ziploc bag and add half of the above mixture. Give everything a mix and let it chill on the counter for anywhere from ten minutes to overnight. 

3. Put your chicken on the grill and do your thing, basting throughout the process.

4. Serve the chicken by itself, chop it to throw on top of a salad or inside a sandwich, shred it and make corn tortillas. The sky is the limit with this one.

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