A FEW WEEKS ago, we drove our son Ben back to college. The trip posed a series of meal-related problems. I needed a dinner for all of us for the Friday night before we left, the makings of a picnic lunch for the car trip on Saturday, something the teenager I left behind could eat while we were away overnight and the setup for an easy dinner on Sunday night when we returned. And, of course, no one wanted to eat the same meal over and over again.
It sounds complicated, but I had a really simple solution. I bought a large pack of boneless chicken breast halves. I sliced them into cutlets and coated them with oil and salt and pepper. I lined two rimmed sheet pans with heavy-duty aluminum foil and preheated the oven to 375 degrees. In a large sauté pan over medium-high heat—an electric griddle works as well—I browned the cutlets in batches and transferred in a single layer to the prepared sheet pans. Into the oven they went for 7 to 10 minutes, until the thickest piece reached an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees. Bingo, food for days.
Sautéed: Friday night, we ate the cutlets topped with sliced mushrooms sautéed with garlic and a little white wine.
Sandwiches: Saturday, we ate chicken-salad sandwiches in the car heading back to Ohio with Ben. At home, Sam had plenty of chicken cutlets to snack on.
Chicken With Pasta: Sunday, we got home in time for me to make a pasta with sautéed asparagus, red onions, sliced chicken and a quick Alfredo sauce, made with heavy cream and Parmesan cheese.
I could just as easily have made fried rice, arroz con pollo, tacos, chef salad—you get the idea. Just having that cooked chicken ready made it so easy to quickly put together a few meals that bore little resemblance to one another. And yes, in warmer months you could go ahead and cook the chicken on the grill—even easier!
—Stephanie Witt Sedgwick
LittleBird “Stephanie Cooks” shares quick dinner ideas every Monday in her My Dinner With . . . column.