February 18, 2006

Chicken Breasts - Simple Or Soup

A while back, Jane Galt posted a series of essays regarding how a person of limited means could, with a modicum of effort, eat quite well. Chicken breasts figured in the recipes, and rancorous debate about the Fate Of The Poor figured in the comment section.

In Milwaukee, Lena's Food Markets have been "Serving the community for 40 years." The community they serve is the largely black, largely poor North side of the city. They have a fleet of mini-vans with which they provide transportation home for anyone spending $40, thereby shooting down one of the Fates mentioned above. The meat department specializes in not offering meat containing up to 15% of a solution of water and salts, and always has a spectacular bargain or two. A couple of weeks ago they had pork neckbones (great base for an all-day soup pot) for $.39 a pound, and boneless skinless chicken breasts, $.99 a pound. We haven't the time or the mouths for a major soup project, but we stocked up on the chicken.

Simple Salsa Shicken

4 chicken breasts
1 cup salsa
lumnum foil

Trim about an ounce off the thinnest edges of each breast, and reserve. Jab the chicken a few times on each side with a fork. Lay each breast on a sheet of foil, pour 1/4 cup salsa on it and flip it so there is some sala on each side. Don't worry about any even coating. Fold up the foil to make a sealed packet around the chicken, and bake for 20 minutes in a 350F oven.

When you open the packets, some clear juice will pour out. If you can reserve this, you avoid a mess and have a bit of another ingredient toward:

Tom Kha Kai

16 ounces Chicken stock ; or broth (some from above if available)
2 medium kaffir lime leaves ; rolled to release the flavour
1 ounce lemon grass (citronella) ; bruised to release flavor
1 tablespoon sliced thinly galangal
4 tablespoons fish sauce ; or to taste
2 tablespoons lime juice ; or to taste
4 ounces chicken breast ; cut into bite size
5 oz coconut milk
8 small Thai Chillies ; slightly crushed
1 tablespoon cilantro leaves ; - for garnish

Heat the stock, add the lime leaves, lemon grass, galangal, fish sauce,and
lime juice. Stir thoroughly and, bring to a boil. Add the chicken and
coconut milk, bring back to the boil, lower the heat to keep it simmering
and cook for about 2 minutes (until the chicken is cooked through).

Note that the number of red chillies is a personal choice. The 8 suggested above is about mid-range. Don't go past that your first time unless you routinely ask for four-star heat at the Thai restaurant. Some suggest substituting ginger for galangal. They are not interchangeable. I keep a jar of pickled galangal in the fridge, and slice as needed. That, along with all the other supposedly exotic ingredients, are bought at the C&J Vliet Street Grocery, closest food store to my house.

Posted by triticale at February 18, 2006 11:26 AM | TrackBack
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