Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Mom's Chicken Burritos

When I was a kid, my mom used to do something that bugged me so much at the time, but is the thing that I want to do now all the time. She used to make a whole bunch of a meal so that she wouldn’t have to cook for the week, and then we would just eat that thing all week. Being a single, working mom, of course this idea made sense. But being a growing teenager, I craved variety. Hmmm, not so much anymore. I mean, don’t get me wrong, this whole blog is about my love for variety of food and my passion for that variety. But now, being a single, working woman, on the day to day, I want to eat well, and in this economy, eat cheap, and eat easy. So, I decided to bring back another recipe from my past and bust out the chicken burrito meat. I made this meal at work so that for the week I could have chicken burritos, chicken quesadillas, or a chicken salad; all from one batch of the meat. And yes, I said made this at work. I am lucky enough to have a full kitchen available to me at my place of business, which is actually a two-story house. 

My mom used to make this in the slow cooker, so she would just throw all the ingredients there, put the crock pot on low, and then when she got home, dinner was practically ready for my brother and I. I start with sautéing the onions and garlic, and then adding green bell peppers. After they have softened, put in the whole pieces of chicken and some salsa. I like to use two little cans of Herdez salsa casera. The chicken needs to be about halfway submersed in liquid, so if there is not enough, I just add a little water. Then turn the burner down to low and let simmer for about an hour and a half. About 20 minutes into my simmer, my colleagues from downstairs started filing upstairs to see what was the smell slithering through the hallways of the house. Everyone was hating me because it was still an hour or so from lunchtime, and I made everyone start drooling for lunch too early. Oops! Sorry!!! After an hour, I check the chicken to be sure it’s cooked all the way through.  As soon as it is, I drained the liquid to leave just the chicken and chunks of veggies. This is the point where I learned something new. I work with a bunch of foreigners who come from countries where you do not waste anything, and as I was dumping the liquid, they all were shocked that I was not using the reserve for something else. Next time I do the meat, I will surely save the liquid, and probably use it instead of the water to make some Spanish rice or as the base of a tortilla soup. After the chicken is drained, chop or shred it up and let it soak the juices. After this, the meat is all set to put in a warmed tortilla and top with lettuce, tomato, and sour cream. Or melt up a quesadilla, be sure the meat is already hot, and put it right in there with the cheese. Or put it on a bed of lettuce with some chopped tomatoes, shredded cheese and some crumbled tortilla chips to make a taco salad!!!

The great thing about this recipe is that you can vary it in any way that you see fit. Add zucchini, corn, tomatoes, cayenne, cumin, just about anything that tickles your fancy. Just start with the basics and make it your own. Isn’t that the joy of cooking? Here is the basic recipe:

1 lb of chicken (thighs, breasts, bones, skin/less, whatever you want)
1 onion
2 bell peppers
2 small cans of Herdez salsa casera
Salt and pepper to taste

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