Photos by Laurie Stuart

Two for one in the New Year

No one believes me when I say that I’m lazy. Nonetheless, it’s true. I am loath to spend more time on something than need be. Additionally, if I can reutilize something, well, now you’ve got my attention.

When it comes to cooking, maybe you’re like me: wanting to create meals that are nourishing, inexpensive and yield leftovers or, even better, a second meal.

So this is what I had in mind when I shopped at my local grocery store for the ingredients of a very simple arroz con pollo. My challenge was to use a limited amount of ingredients that would yield a totally different second meal. (I have taken my inspiration from Cook’s Illustrated, “Latino-Style Chicken and Rice.”)

Thus, came this month’s offering of arroz con pollo and a tasty chicken ravioli soup.

Shopping list

8 chicken thighs (approximately 4 pounds)($.69/lb, on sale at Pete’s and Peck’s)

1 jar of Seven Farms organic mild salsa ($2.50)

1 16-oz. bag of frozen mixed vegetables ($1.50, on sale at Pete’s and Peck’s)

2 medium yellow onions ($.69)

1 large green pepper ($.77)

1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes ($1.00, on sale at Pete’s and Peck’s)

6 cloves garlic (approx. $$.80)

3 cups medium grain white rice ($2.15)

1 tsp. salt

For the chicken ravioli soup:

1 bag frozen mini round ravioli ($1.67)

GRAND TOTAL: $13.84  

Per serving, for TWO DISHES: $1.15 - $1.38

Arroz con pollo

With a garlic press, press garlic cloves in a bowl large enough to hold the chicken thighs. Add 1 teaspoon of salt and mix. Trim excess skin and fat off of chicken thighs and coat pieces (in the bowl) with the salt/garlic paste. Set aside for 15 minutes. (Reserve garlic skins and crushed cloves and place in medium saucepan.)

Peel onions, chop off ends and dice. (Place the ends and skins in the medium saucepan with garlic skins.)

Chop peppers. (Place the seeds and scraps in saucepan along with onion and garlic scraps. Cover with 2 cups of water and simmer into a vegetable broth.)

In a Dutch oven over medium heat, add 2 Tbsp. olive oil, and sauté the onions and peppers until soft, about 4 minutes. (Reserve ¾ cup of onion/pepper mixture for our second dish.) Push onions and pepper to side and put chicken in pot, skin side down. Cook for 2-4 minutes, until chicken begins to turn translucent. Using tongs, turn over and cook for 2-4 minutes on the other side.

Strain vegetable broth through wire strainer. (Retain vegetable scraps.)

Add 1 cup of salsa, ½ can of diced tomatoes (I reserved a cup for the second dish) and 2 cups broth to the Dutch oven. Turn down heat and simmer for 20 minutes.

Add rice and stir. Add additional ½ cup broth if rice seems dry. Place in oven for 10 minutes and cook until chicken gets to 175°.

Remove chicken, discard skins and pull meat from the bones using 2 spoons. (Set aside 2 cups chicken for later use. Place bones in stock pot with vegetable scraps and cover with 8 cups of water. Simmer for later use.)

Put all but the 2 reserved cups of chicken back in rice mixture and add ½ bag of the frozen vegetables. Stir, return to oven and bake until heated through. Serves 6-8.

Variation:

For more zest, you can add ¼ cup cilantro, ½ cup green olives, ½ cup jarred pimentos, ¼ tsp. red pepper flakes, 1 Tbsp. capers and 1 Tbsp. of white vinegar.

Chicken Ravioli Soup

8 cups chicken broth

¾ cup sautéed onion and green pepper (reserved)

2 cups cooked pulled chicken (reserved)

1 cup diced tomatoes (reserved)

1 cup salsa (reserved)

½ package frozen mixed vegetables (reserved)

1 12-16 oz. package of mini frozen ravioli or tortellini.

Strain chicken broth. Add all the ingredients that you set aside: chopped tomatoes, salsa, frozen veggies, chicken, onions and peppers. Heat for 20 minutes.

Cook ravioli as per instructions and add to soup. Adjust seasoning to taste. Serve with grated cheese, green salad and bread if you’re so inclined.

Serves 4.

Variation:

Add a 10 oz. box of frozen spinach.

While there are a lot of steps in this arroz con pollo recipe, by increasing some of the ingredients and reserving them, a totally different meal that serves four in made within minutes.  Talk about efficient!  Love it!  Hope you do, too!

Do you have some favorite time-saving tips you can share? Join the conversation at www.facebook/trrsimplefare.com.

 

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