Oh, dear reader, I have missed you terribly. And you’ve been on my mind a lot. I’m glad to be slowly reacquainting myself with the kitchen, which had a lovely facelift. And maybe a little nip here and tuck there. We are not yet fully operational. But we are feeling more like ourselves and itchin’ to get back in the kitchen. I am still without a grill. I’m unpacking boxes containing various gadgets and tools long since forgotten, but now needed and wanted. However, the basics are covered and the spirit of newness has moved me. So I’m back!
Since I’m packing two lunch boxes this fall, I’m feeling even more pressure to fill them smartly. In the first few weeks of school, the lunch boxes were coming home looking suspiciously similar to how they’d started out that morning. Hmm. Turns out my little guys are sandwich-haters.
Protein is always the challenge. I’ve just uncovered a method for creating two fast, healthy protein options for lunches – and thankfully, these haven’t been making their way back home wilted, dried and sad-looking like lunches of weeks past. One cooking method, two terrific results. Two birds, one stone! Actually, it’s only one bird…read on to see what I mean.
Do you know how to get perfect, easy-to-peel hard boiled eggs or tender, juicy chicken breasts in just minutes? I didn’t either, but now I do and so will you.
Last spring, you may recall our hard-boiled egg epiphany. Silly as it sounds, I struggled with how to cook them just right. Here, I’ve swindled people into thinking I’m some terrific cook and I can’t even literally boil an egg? Sheesh.
I had so many questions. Do I put them in cold water or let the water boil first? Do I salt the water? How long should they cook? Do they need to cool before peeling? How do I avoid turning the yolk that icky green? And how do I prevent them from cracking and oozing albumin out the sides? Heck if I knew. After some experimentation, I came up with the following method, which I’m happy to share with you so you need not wonder these nagging questions any longer.
1. Place eggs in a saucepan with a tight-fitting lid. Add only as many eggs as you can fit in one even layer along the bottom. Sprinkle a teaspoon of kosher salt into the pan, then fill it with cold water until it covers the eggs by a good inch or so.
2. Set the pot full of eggs and salted water over high heat. Allow the water to come to a vigorous boil. Let it boil furiously for a minute or two.
3. Remove the pot from the heat, cover it with the lid and allow it to rest off the heat for 15 minutes.
4. Drain the eggs and allow to cool. For faster cooling, fill the pan with cold water. When cool enough to handle, peel the eggs effortlessly.
At the same time, I was looking for a fast, healthy way to cook chicken breasts to keep on hand in the fridge during the week. They can be quickly thrown into a pita pocket (for the non sandwich-haters) or on top of a salad. You can also use them in any recipe that calls for cooked chicken, like this one or this one. Believe it or not, the cooking method is alarming similar to the perfect egg instructions…technically this is called poaching and it produces tender, juicy meat that will be delicately flavored with whichever aromatics you choose. Check it out:
1. Place chicken breasts in a pan with a tight-fitting lid. Add only as many chicken breasts as you can fit in one even layer along the bottom. Sprinkle with kosher salt, then add a combination of aromatics including fresh herbs, whole peppercorns, smashed garlic cloves, sliced onions, sliced lemons, sliced ginger root, bay leaf, etc. Fill the pan with cold water until it covers the chicken breasts.
2. Set the pan over high heat. Allow the water to come to a vigorous boil. Let it boil furiously for a minute or two.
3. Remove the pan from the heat, cover it with the lid and allow it to rest off the heat for 15 minutes.
4. Drain the water from the pan, remove the chicken breasts and allow to cool on a cutting board. When cool enough to handle, shred the meat and store it in the fridge for up to 5 days.
And that, my friends, is the story of how I killed one bird with two stones. Or something like that.