You see them in every local supermarket. Those portable hot ovens with shelves of pre-packaged roasted chickens.
Initially, I’d pass them by, my ego supplanting falsehoods about their cheating, expensive ways. Kaukab taught me that a real cook (and mother) always cooked her own chicken. So, fearing retribution, I did the same. Not only had I thought it cost-saving, but I knew everything I had used to prepare it.
But, one day, feeling too tired and impatient, the pre-cooked chicken got the best of me. And, I was hooked!
I found that they were really quite tasty and the time savings more than made up for the slightly elevated cost outlay.
Kaukab used to roast her chicken and then in the last half-hour, she’d add a few handfuls of rice, diced tomatoes, and water enough to cover, slap on a sheet of foil and wait until the rice cooked. It was her version of a one pan meal. I loved that meal. So much so, that I’ve passed it along to my family table.
But, I found that roasted chicken, already waiting on me, allowed me more time and options.
For instance: I’ll finely chop the warm breast and thigh meat of one chicken (to feed up to 6), along with the chicken’s broth, and add to a large bottle of my favorite barbeque sauce, which I have warming in a med-large pot, and cook for about 10 min., stirring to keep from scorching. Serve them on some nice buns.
I’ll make stir-fry with the remaining drumsticks and remaining bits of chicken. I use the chicken’s broth, if I haven’t already used for barbeque chicken, or if I’ve got an extra chicken, to add to the rice at the time I add the water. I stir fry the veggies (I usually have broccoli, mushrooms, onions, and carrots on hand) and garlic with canola and a little sesame chili oil first, on medium high, until partially tender. Then, I add in the chicken pieces and stir fry for a couple more minutes. Turning up to high, I add in the sauce and let come up to a boil. Turn down to medium and cook for another 5 to 10 minutes, or until sauce thickens slightly. Serve with rice.
The sauce is made with: soy sauce, ginger paste, brown sugar, lime, cold water, and corn starch (for thickening). Stir all in a 2C. measuring container. I usually pour enough soy to reach 1/2C, ginger paste dipped with the end of a tablespoon or fork handle (don’t need much), two packets of raw brown sugar or 2 tsps of packed brown sugar, wedge or two of lime, and water to fill 1-3/4 C. I add in a small amt. of corn starch (about 1tsp) and stir with a fork until well mixed.
To compromise, when I don’t feel like chopping veggies or making stir fry sauce, I just make the rice. I use garlic salt and tumeric, adding them to the melted butter used to cook the rice, stirring for a minute or two on medium high before adding the liquid (water and chicken’s broth), and bringing up to boil for a minute, stirring some more, then turning down to simmer and adding in the chopped chicken pieces to cook, covered, until rice is done–about 15 min. or slightly more. (I usually measure out 1 3/4C rice and use 3 1/2C liquid ratio.) I do a stir fry broccoli, adding a bit of dried red pepper flakes, sea salt, and a lemon squeeze for a colorful and healthful side.
I think the chicken is happier that way, and I’m in a better position of saving face with Kaukab.