Broccoli and Chicken and Not Much Else April 27, 2011Posted by Toy Lady in Cooking, Eating Down the Fridge, random stuff, Surly Boy.
How about a story? The Boy has been back home, and he requested something for dinner the other night that reminded me of this.
We had moved into my first-ever apartment, and I was responsible for, well, for everything. Those were some lean times, at times. I was still getting used to the idea of a bi-weekly paycheck – by the end of the second week, well, I was very glad to see Friday coming!
There was one week in particular, it must have been a Thursday, and I’d gotten home, looked in the refrigerator, and saw very little that looked interesting. A somewhat elderly head of broccoli. . . some American cheese slices. . . a couple of flour tortillas left over from a past taco night. Probably some mayonnaise and some yogurt. Huh.
The freezer wasn’t much better – ice cubes, half a pint of ice cream, a few bagels (I used to buy them at the end of the day and freeze them – they were good for lunches), and a lonely package of frozen chicken tenders.
No wonder I used to be so much thinner, huh?
Obviously, it was a matter of working with what I had – in those days, ordering pizza or Chinese was a rare treat – and never the day before payday! I was fortunate that the Boy liked his vegetables, and of course, what kid wouldn’t prefer dinner rolled up in a tortilla?
So our chicken and broccoli burritos were born.
It should, of course, be noted that at the time, “wraps” weren’t ubiquitous back then like they are now, and Hot Pockets had barely been heard of. The only reason I had flour tortillas in the house was that I don’t like those hard, crunchy taco shells – our tacos are always soft!
So I got out the chicken and let it get slightly less frozen, then diced it. (Note – it’s actually much easier to dice mostly frozen chicken anyway – it’s not so slimy.)
Also, the broccoli got chopped, and I sliced a bunch of garlic. (I’ve chopped the garlic, too, but it’s really better when you take the time to thinly slice half a dozen or so cloves.)
Dig out a big skillet (one with a lid) and splash a bit of olive oil in it, add the garlic, then start heating it. Once the pan is hot, start sauteing the chicken chunks – the meat is going to need to be close to done before we go much further. If the chicken is still frozen (or mostly frozen), I cook it over a fairly slow heat for, oh, say 10-15 minutes. With the garlic, you don’t want to go to high anyway – and as long as you cook it gently, all that garlic adds a nice, mellow flavor without the harshness that less-cooked (or worse yet, burned!) garlic would bring.
When the chicken is almost done, now it’s time to add the chopped broccoli and a pinch of salt, then cover the pan and just let it steam for 5-8 minutes or so, stirring occasionally. You want the broccoli cooked, but not too much, you know?
And now, while the broccoli is steaming, you’ll set up the tortillas. I like to take one slice of processed cheese (oh GASP!) and cut it in half (on the diagonal), then lay it across the center of the tortilla. By the time you get your tortillas cheesed and ready to go, the broccoli should be about done.
Using a slotted spoon (there will be some liquid from the chicken and from the broccoli – you don’t want that), with your slotted spoon, just spoon about 1/4 to 1/3 cup of the mixture over the cheese, then just roll the tortilla up like a burrito. Nuke for half a minute, if you’d like, to melt the cheese. Also good with sour cream (what isn’t?), and, individually wrapped, they freeze well, too.
And there you have it – one of the Boy’s childhood favorite meals, one he used to ask for almost weekly, which, fortunately, was quick, cheap and healthy – just what you want when you’re feeding a hungry boy on a tight budget!
What was your (or your kids’) favorite thrown-together meal?