Making a week or so's worth of workday lunches on a weekend is just like sitting down to eat pancakes. At first, it seems like such a wonderful idea - and for a few precious moments, it is - , but before long, you're sick of'em. And so it is with making large batches of food for lunch: Monday - scrumptious, Tuesday - good, but by midweek, I'm staring at my brown bag like it's ready for some kid to set it aflame on someone's doorstep. I just need more variety, but I want to do it without cooking five different lunches ahead of time.
Last week, one of those rare moments of genius kicked in. Not, like, astrophysics genius - but the kind of genius that happens rarely and spontaneously, like when you realize a door says "push" and not "pull."
I can slow cook a ton of chicken, and just slap a variety of sauces on them, offering variety, but not much work. In other words, make enough of the BASE INGREDIENT for a week, then prepare that base ingredient however you want! It's like transforming leftovers into a completely different meal, but WITH FORETHOUGHT. I told you - genius.
This chicken, prepared three ways, was all sorts of satisfying through the entire week - you can use pre-made sauces, like bbq or buffalo, or, for an added bit of fun and to avoid certain - unnecessary ingredients - by making your own. Here, I have a buffalo chicken sauce, pesto, and a mustard-vinegar BBQ sauce.
Ingredients - Slow-Cooked Shredded Chicken:4-5 large chicken breasts
2 cups of chicken or veggie stock
Water, as needed
Ingredients - Buffalo Chicken Sauce
1 cup Frank's Hot Sauce
3 tbs butter
1/4 white vinegar (you may want to experiment with the amount of vinegar - I like a lot)
1/8 cup lime juice
1 tbs garlic powder
1 tbs garlic powder
Ingredients - Pesto
2 fistfuls of fresh basil
2 cloves of garlic
2 tbs lemon juice
1/8 cup shredded parm
2-3 tbs olive oil
Ingredients - Dijon-Vinegar BBQ Sauce
1/4 cup dijon mustard
1/8 cup vinegar
1 tbs molasses
1 tsp liquid smoke
2 tbs brown sugar
1. Add the stock and the chicken to the crockpot. Add water, if needed, until the liquid is just short of covering the top of the chicken. Turn the crock pot on low, and let cook for 8 hours.
2. When the chicken is really tender - and I mean falling-apart-easier-than-Jennifer-Aniston-in-a-romantic-comedy tender - remove from the crock pot and shred with a fork. It should be easy - if the chicken is resisting, toss it back in the slow cooker before it cools.
Now your chicken is done, and you can flavor it any way you like! You'll note that the only flavor I actually cooked with the chicken is the buffalo sauce because I was going for a specific consistency there - that sloppy shredded bbq meat mound consistency. The other flavors I just added to the chicken and let set for 20 minutes or so.
3. Note that I cleaned out my crock pot, then let the butter melt. You can do this in a large pot, though, if you prefer.
4. Once the butter melts, add the rest of the ingredients, turn to high, and add chicken. Let cook about 20-40 minutes, or until it looks like that messy glob of deliciousness you see to the right.
5. The dijon BBQ sauce is a variation of some that I've tried in the south/mid-Atlantic areas. It's smokey, a little sweet, and very tangy - toss the ingredients in a small pot
6. Let simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally
7. Add to shredded chicken, put in fridge for at least 20 minutes to let it set.
8. Now we make the pesto - which is amazingly easy. Get out your food processor or blender, throw in all the solid ingredients, then add the lemon juice and olive oil. Depending on the size of your processor, you may have to do this in two batches.
9. Run food processor until contents create sort of a course sauce. If you're having trouble getting that consistency you may have to add more oil or lemon juice.
10. Mix with shredded chicken, let sit in the fridge for at least 20 minutes.
I toasted the rolls, tossed on the chicken, and I had massive amounts food for lots of people with minimal effort. Best part is, I know EVERY SINGLE INGREDIENT, was able to limit or eliminate any sugars or excessive salts/fats, and still made everything seem sinfully satisfying!
Let me know if you try - I would love to see your pictures if you do! Post them on www.facebook.com/cutseveryday.