When I cook at home, I want to make my life as easy as possible. On my days off, I tend to prepare things in bulk, and freeze them in Ziploc bags. I arrange the bags so they are as thin and square and flat as possible, so they stack up nicely in my freezer. I like to think of my freezer as a kind of meaty filing cabinet, an archive of deliciousness, a library of lovely foods. Do we want chicken soup, Bolognese sauce or pulled pork? I can consult the freezer, and see if I have that particular dish ‘on file’. Soup, stew, sauce can all be stored in this fashion, and the advantages are that the thin flat shape means a very quick defrost time, and also maximizes your storage space in the freezer.
This recipe for Chicken Tacos, goes a step further in the direction of an easy life. It can be cooked directly from frozen, under the broiler on a foil-lined sheet, and there is virtually no clean-up at all.
Here’s the recipe and technique:
In the pursuit of several future ‘meals-for-two’, I am taking five pounds of boneless chicken thighs, some skinless, some not.
Dice the chicken thighs into quarter to-half inch chunks, discard the skin that comes off, and keep any that stays on. It is helpful here to have really cold, or semi-frozen meat, as it cuts much easier.
These are the flavorings we are going to add to our chicken thighs:
That large block of stuff in the foreground is frozen garlic puree (more on that here).
And here is the recipe. This is per one pound of meat.
1 teaspoon Salt
2 teaspoons Paprika
1 teaspoon Cumin
1 teaspoon Ancho Chilli Powder
1 Tablespoon Oregano
1 Tablespoon Garlic puree or finely chopped Garlic
Juice and zest of 1 lime
¼ teaspoon Cinnamon
Chili sauce, to taste.
Shove it all into a bowl, and let’s get everything involved.
I am doing five pounds at a time. Mix it by hand, take a few minutes, pound it around, really get into it, do a thorough job. Once you are done, it should look like this.
Lovely stuff. Let it marinate for as long as you want, while you are thinking about packaging it up. This recipe is about storage and convenience. Use a scale if you like, or do it by eye. Get some gallon Ziploc bags and put a pound of meat into each.
A pound of meat should be enough for 2 people, but this stuff is so unbelievably tasty I have learnt to account for some extra nibbling throughout the later evening, so I am going with about 1.5 pounds per bag.
Make sure your square of delicious meat fits nicely on the sheet pan you will use later. Stack these guys up and freeze them. Now let’s think about some Pico de Gallo.
Here's what you'll need:
- 1 tomato
- ½ a white onion
- 1 juiced lime
- 2 jalapenos
- a bunch of cilantro.
Dice your tomatoes, using only the outer flesh, with similar precision:
Combine with finely chopped cilantro.
This is the clever part. Line a sheet pan with foil, remove one of your ‘ready-to-go taco-packs’ from the freezer, cut away the bag, and arrange like so:
Place under, and very close to the broiler:
From frozen, this will take about 10-15 minutes, and by the time the top has a beautiful charring, the middle will be perfectly cooked. Take this time to prepare your corn tortillas, I like to burn mine over an open gas flame.
Now the meat is ready.
Combine everything quickly, and serve while it’s hot. I like to add some yogurt/lime sauce, and homemade pickled banana-peppers.
Winner. No grill, no frying pan, no mess, no effort. This method works for many meats, pulled pork, kebabs, etc. Freeze them flat and set yourself up for months to come.
If you don't feel comfortable with the knife skills necessary for the Pico de Gallo, be sure to check out The Chopping Block's upcoming sessions of our most popular class, Knife Skills:
- Saturday, August 11 10am Lincoln Square
- Monday, August 13 7pm Lincoln Square
- Saturday, August 18 10am Merchandise Mart
- Wednesday, August 29 6pm Merchandise Mart