Chicken Taco Skillet Supper
by Kim Becker
In these uncertain times, many are finding themselves in situations they never could have imagined. In a matter of days, everything as we knew it changed, including our food supply and the manner in which we purchase our food. The grocery stores have been packed and their shelves are bare. Like many of you, I stocked my pantry, refrigerator and freezer to the best of my ability. Now comes the inevitable challenge of how to make that food work for your family, how to stretch it and how to get creative with it. We need ideas of what to make without the ability to run to the store for that one ingredient you think you need, and I hope to give you some here.
For several years, my go-to when I do not feel like cooking dinner is to grab a rotisserie chicken, roast some potatoes, and cook a green vegetable. Now that stopping after work at the grocery store to grab one isn’t a realistic option, the next best thing when you do go to a store, try to buy a few whole fresh chickens to roast at home, then shred and freeze the meat for multiple recipes.
I was talking to my daughter, Katie (who you may know, Katie Lee, from her popular Food Network show, “The Kitchen”) and we were brainstorming ideas for shredded chicken meat. We agreed that one chicken could be stretched into four meals for a family of four, when paired with other pantry ingredients. First step, thoroughly salt and pepper your chicken, inside and out, and roast at 350 F for 1 hour and 15 minutes to 1 hour and 30 minutes (for an internal temperature of 165 F when measured in the thickest part of the thigh). Let the chicken cool to touch, then use two forks to shred the meat. Divide the meat into fourths, then put in freezer bags and freeze. You can use one bag of meat per recipe for things like chicken chili with canned white beans, mix one bag with your favorite jarred tomato sauce and add to pasta, make quesadillas with cheese, add to a casserole with rice, frozen vegetables, and canned condensed soup. Save the carcass of your chicken and put it in a pot to simmer with a quart of chicken broth to fortify the broth, then use that stock for a soup. If you don’t have broth, you can use water, add an onion, a carrot, and a piece of celery and let it simmer for a couple of hours for homemade chicken broth. We are making every last bit count!
Katie and I both love any kind of Mexican flavors and we like to use shredded chicken for a taco skillet supper. This is a great way to stretch your chicken and get a hearty, satisfying meal that will put a smile on your family members’ faces. Another bonus of this meal, it’s a “one pan plan,” so it entails very little clean up. Use this recipe as a guideline and make any substitutions according to what you have. Don’t have black beans? Try pinto. No green onions? A yellow onion or even onion powder works fine. The store didn’t have a whole chicken? Buy a package of chicken thighs or ground chicken. Use a packet of taco seasoning instead of chili powder. You don’t have salsa? Use a can of diced tomatoes and spice it up with some hot sauce. Want to make it vegetarian? Skip the chicken entirely and just do beans. No tortillas? Try it over rice or with chips as a dip. If you have cilantro for garnish, great. If not, no worries.
We are all learning to adapt to these rapidly changing circumstances. It is stressful and overwhelming to look into your pantry and figure out what to make for your family. Hopefully you can find some comfort in a meal like this.
Chicken Taco Skillet Supper
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 scallions (green onions), thinly sliced white and light green parts
1 (4.5 ounce) can mild green chilis
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 ½ cups shredded cooked chicken
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup frozen spinach
½ cup frozen corn
½ cup jarred salsa
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Tortillas, for serving
Optional garnish: Fresh cilantro, sour cream or yogurt, salsa, hot sauce
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and scallions and quickly sauté, taking care not to burn the garlic, for 2 minutes. Stir in the green chilis and chili powder. Cook 1 minute. Stir in chicken, black beans, spinach, and corn. Increase heat to medium high and let cook until spinach and corn thaw, about 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in salsa, ¼ cup water, salt, and pepper. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to low, cover and cook 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove cover and top with cheese. Cover and let cook until cheese is fully melted, about 3 minutes. Serve from the skillet with tortillas and optional garnishes.
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