Take four chicken thighs…
If you are going to cook for one, you need to get away from recipes that specify exact quantities–it’s a step toward learning to improvise as you cook. I’d urge you to take a look at Kitchen Express by Mark Bittman–you don’t have to buy it, thought it’s a great book to have; go to the library and check it out. (It’s also available for Kindle, too) Other simple, and simply good recipes can be found at The New York Times, and at Mark Bittman.com. You will find recipes that are easy to do for one because they are “quantity-less” in the sense of the typical recipes. They don’t call him “minimalist” without a reason–a very few ingredients can make some wonderful eating.
Now for those four chicken thighs, cooked as described in “The Microwave in my Kitchen”, here’s what has been done with some, and what is intended for that fourth one:
1. Chicken salad for a sandwich, quickly made by adding some minced red onion, a bit of cutting celery (See Herbs page) leaves and stems, salt, fresh-ground black pepper, a squeeze of lime juice (or lemon juice), and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil.
2. A warm meal of chicken with part of a can of chickpeas left from a previous use. Sautéed a handful of onion in olive oil until softened, added a big clove of garlic, the chicken cut into bite-sized pieces, added some halved grape tomatoes, about a tablespoon of chopped sun-dried tomatoes, a dash of Syrian oregano (still growing on my deck); finish with salt and fresh-ground black pepper to taste. Add a single-serving salad of mixed greens and had a quick, satisfying meal.
3. The third piece went to make some quick chicken hash for Sunday breakfast as follows: In a 12-inch nonstick skillet sauté a handful of diced onion in olive oil until just starting to brown. Add two minced garlic cloves (I like lots of garlic), and cook for two or three minutes. Meanwhile, open a can of diced potatoes (I told you this was quick–obviously you can start with raw potatoes and sauté them until tender) and brown them lightly. Rinse and drain the potatoes, add to the skillet and sauté until they start to brown.
Remove half the potato mixture–this is destined for another use. Remove the meat from the chicken thigh if it was bone-in and dice the meat. Add this to the potato mixture in the skillet, along with some (about 1/2 teaspoon) fresh thyme (again still growing on my deck) and continue to sauté. When the potatoes and chicken are slightly browned, remove to a plate and keep warm. Cook one egg (or two if you are really hungry) to medium, and serve over the chicken hash.
The portion of potatoes that you removed from the skillet can be used in different ways: the are likely to become a kind of quick version of a Spanish tortilla by just warming and adding a couple of eggs and serving with a salad or vegetable.
4. With the broth obtained from cooking the thighs in the microwave, I plan make a meaty chicken soup using that fourth chicken thigh, using that bit of rice left from another meal. I’ll add more veggies, perhaps a bay leaf, and some of my “lazy” favorite (and only) herb mix, herbs de Provence. I’ll see when the time comes–since I don’t do leftovers, I probably shouldn’t do predictions either.
There will be a follow-up on that fourth piece of chicken to let you know where my improvisation lead me. I’ll give you another example, using a recipe from Kitchen Express for a lentil soup that just blew my mind (See An Awesome Lentil Soup). It was such an unexpected combination of flavors, and it is one that I keep using to improvise with other ingredients, as well as coming back to the original. It’s a recipe where I could also make use of the last piece of chicken.