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June 10, 2007

Frozen chicken breasts (Recipe: chicken ratatouille) {gluten-free}

Frozenchickenbreasts

Call me an exhibitionist, but today, for the first time in The Perfect Pantry, I am baring my breasts.

Oh, gosh.

I know what you're thinking.

Maybe she's taking that whole "food porn" thing a bit too literally?

Fear not, my breasts are absolutely G-rated, and they are an essential part of my culinary arsenal. More than any other food product, boneless, skinless frozen chicken breasts are the save-my-bacon ingredient I turn to week in and week out, whether I need to create a meal in a hurry or I'm cooking for a crowd.

Whenever I can, I buy "happy meat" from one of our local Rhode Island farms, but I always keep a bag of Empire kosher chicken breasts in the freezer. Based in Pennsylvania, Empire buys chickens from farms within an hour's drive of its plant, and processes them according to Jewish dietary laws.

What kosher means for the consumer is a guarantee of a high-quality chicken grown and slaughtered under humane conditions. What it means for the cook is amazing flavor. As part of the koshering process, Empire chickens are salted to draw out the blood, and then rinsed and dried. The salting results in a chicken breast that has great taste and is, in effect, pre-brined.

Empire chicken comes in bags of 5-6 well-trimmed breast halves, available at Costco for $8.99. You can find it also at Trader Joe's, Whole Foods, and several supermarket chains.

There are at least 1,001 ways to use boneless, skinless chicken breasts: in salad with tarragon mayo; grilled with curry or with lemon and capers; yakitori meatballs; garlic-fried or boursin-stuffed; in a tomato-chickpea sauce or with good old marsala; and on passionfruit pizza with bacon and mushrooms.

What's your favorite way to bare your (chicken) breasts?

Chicken ratatouille

A farmers' market delight, ratatouille -- a classic Provencal stewed vegetable dish -- with chicken makes a delicious main course or picnic take-along. Use fresh corn in season; otherwise, canned or frozen corn will be fine. You can omit the chicken for a vegetarian version, or add cold poached shrimp for another main dish variation. Leftovers make a great filling for sandwiches or omelets. Serves 8 as a main course.

Ingredients

2-3 thin Japanese eggplant, stem end trimmed, cut into 1-inch chunks
2 medium zucchini, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 Tbsp or more kosher salt
1 large red-skinned or Yukon Gold potato, with skin on, cut into half-inch dice
Olive oil
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 large onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, sliced
2 ribs celery, sliced
2 green peppers, sliced
2 red peppers, sliced
2 yellow peppers, sliced
2 large tomatoes (beefsteaks are great), seeded and cut roughly into chunks
1 small can kernel corn, or the kernels from several ears, or 1 cup frozen kernels
White wine, approximately 1 cup
1-1/2 Tbsp dried oregano
Fresh ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced
Black pitted olives (small size), 1/2 cup or more to taste

Directions

Place the diced eggplant and zucchini in a colander and toss with the salt. Allow to drain for at least 30 minutes. Then, rinse and dry the vegetables.

Heat 3 Tbsp olive oil in a large stockpot. Add chicken, and saute for 5 minutes over low-medium heat. Remove chicken and set aside. Add eggplant and zucchini to the pot, and cook uncovered, stirring to keep the eggplant from sticking, for 10 minutes or until eggplant is falling apart. You may need to add more olive oil to keep the pot from burning (and because the eggplant soaks up a lot of the oil) -- add one Tbsp at a time. Add the onions and garlic, and cook 5 minutes more. Add the peppers and tomato, and cover. After 5 minutes add the wine, oregano and pepper. Cook, covered, for 15 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and the chicken, and cook just until the mushrooms are heated but not soggy. This should be very stew-like, with all the vegetables extremely soft. Serve at room temperature, or hot, or cold.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]

Comments

Hooray, congratulations on being the Typepad Featured Blog. Very cool, and very well deserved too. Now more and more people can find your great blog. Aren't chicken breasts just wonderful? Occasionally when I see someone talking about how they are dry and flavorless, I think to myself "Huh? What are they talking about?"

Congrats on being the Featured Blog! Much deserved! These Empire Chicken Breasts sound like just what I need as a standby in the freezer, so I will track them down next weekend!

Congrats! I had to go back and look. When I logged in this morning it was too early probably still yesterday or something)
I never knew that about kosher chicken. Not that I can find it here but if I ever see it I'll know.
I keep a drawer full of breasts in my freezer, too.
The mother of a friend in college always called them 'chests'.

Hey Lydia, congrats on the featured blog...that's very cool. For the yakitori chicken meat balls, actually the thigh meat works better because of more fat so they meat balls will turn out moist and succulent. But breast will do. ;)

Congrat Lydia! This is well-deserved!

I love your chicken, Lydia. I visited the Kosher shop here several time, and their meat is really of top quality. Normally I buy meat from a Turkish Halal Butcher here. They do stock excellent cut of meat & chicken with a very affordable prize! Much better than the products I get from normal supermarket.

Congratulations Lydia. You deserve it, this blog is great. I always learn something when I read your posts and enjoy your writing.

By the way, I finally found my Tunisian cookbook. Recipes are coming soon.

Kalyn, thank you! I can't imagine my freezer without chicken breasts, especially these, which because of the brining are always moist and flavorful. Hooray for our favorite Costco!

TW, thank you! I'm partial to this brand of chicken, but I keep others in my freezer when I can't find Empire.

Katie, now I will always think of them as "chests", too! I love that.

RM, yakitori chicken is one of my favorites.

Anh, we used to have a halal butcher in my neighborhood in Boston. The meat there was always very clean and fresh.

Aurore, welcome back! I look forward to sharing some of your Tunisian recipes.

Congratulations Lydia for being the featured blog!Very well deserved! I usually use chicken breast in Persian saffron chicken.

what a great surprise to find you featured on Typepad - very cool and so well deserved - congrats!

Your search hits must've gone through the roof on this one ;)

Congrats! And nice breasts!

Veron, Persian saffron chicken sounds divine! If you've posted the recipe, please share the link.

Patti, thank you so much.

Jeff, I love making new friends. Typepad has featured my blog twice, which I consider quite an honor.

Sean, you've made my day!

Lydia, congrats on the well-deserved attention, and an excellent post -- I hadn't considered the pre-brining piece with the kosher chicken breasts -- that's a great point!

I've been lurking around your blog and really enjoy it. So glad to see you featured!

Congrats! A well deserved accolade for what could be the world's hardest working blog pantry!
Totally agree with the chicken breasts, I always have a couple in the freezer!

That's fantastic, Lydia! You deserve the recognition!

Genie, many thanks. I'm learning a lot about gardening from your blog.

Erinn, thanks for commenting today! Glad you've been enjoying our romp through the pantry.

Freya, without chicken breasts my freezer feels naked! I rely on having a few on hand for those times when I really need to cook in a hurry.

Susan, thank you so much.

i've been looking around since seeing you as the featured blogger. i thought i should come out of lurkdom to say i love your site and will be back frequently!

Suzanne, welcome to The Perfect Pantry! I hope you'll often find something interesting or amusing here.

Lydia, this is wonderful! Congrats on being featured - you deserve it.

(But really, baring your breasts for the world to see.)

BTW, I thought of you as I packed pantry items in our suitcases the other day. That's all we bought, it seems...

Congrats to you on being the featured blog. Very exciting!

I'm still giggling!

Mimi, welcome back! I've enjoyed reading about your trip to Paris -- what wonderful pantry items did you bring home?

Kristen, thank you so much.

Kelly-Jane, I've been giggling all day!

Haha, baring your breasts! Nice way to put it! :) No wonder you were featured on Typepad! :) Too bad I made them way before I'd thought of blogging, but I bared mine by slitting them in half, stuffing them with stinky maroilles cheese and rolling them in chicory-flavoured breadcrumbs! Not sure when I'll make them next but they are particularly pretty to look at

Oh baby, you are brave to bare your breasts... Although I think you might need some titty tassles!
:-)

Shilpa, thank you! I like the sound of your chicken breast recipe. Chicory-flavored breadcrumbs? I've never heard of that -- intriguing!

Steamy, now I'm the one who's laughing!!!

Well done on the Typepad feature - and thanks for the link-love! Apart from those chickpea tomato chicken breass I also love to stuff them with basil, haloumi, mascarpone and sun-dried tomatoes before wrapping them in bacon and baking them on a bed of potato slices to catch the juices. Th possibilities are endless...

Jeanne, welcome to The Perfect Pantry. Yum yum yum, that sounds like an amazing way to treat chicken breasts! I think my favorite way is to marinate them with chili paste with garlic, scallions and a touch of soy sauce, then toss them on the grill. Hot, spicy, and delicious!

Ooh, I've never seen these at my Costco -- but then I never look at the frozen meat any more. But I ought to browse around more, since they change their stock periodically. I will definitely pick some of these up next time I'm there, assuming mine has them. The pre-brining in particular piques my interest. Thanks!

Zoe, my Costco (outside Boston) always has them, but often I have to cruise the aisle more than once to find them, hidden away among the other frozen chicken products. I absolutely think they taste better because of the salting process. Good luck on the search!

I love this recipe! I would definitely make this again...

I've never liked chicken - mainly because when I make it (instead of buying it at a restaurant), it always comes out dry and bland. I'm going to try this!

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  • My name is Lydia Walshin. From my log house kitchen in rural northwest Rhode Island, I share recipes that use what we keep in our pantries, the usual and not-so-usual ingredients that spice up our lives.

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