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Chicken for the Allergy Kid

May 11, 2010

While you may be wondering why there has been such a lapse between all posts, I can assure you that there have been no lost Chicken Monday’s at our dinner table.  So, why then, the lack of writing? Many dinners have been repeats (chicken nuggets with various sides) and some dinners have been hastily prepared (leftover chicken from another meal, reinvented with a different sauce).   The main reason for my lack of posting, however, is my now chronic battle to find food for my growing son, who seems to be allergic to just about everything I have in my kitchen.  By combining the allergy issue with the fact that he was massively addicted to jarred baby food, you end up with a very stressful mealtime situation.  However, thanks to the wealth of information out there – on the internet, in books, and even in food stores – for preparing meals for people with allergies, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

Two foods that my son is not allergic to are chicken and rice.   I am finding more and more ways to serve up these two staples in ways that my son will actually eat and in ways that actually taste good for the non-allergenic eaters in the house.  I have literally become a broth factory.  I have on occasion felt myself to be a vulture – greedily eying up chicken and turkey carcasses leftover from recent family dinners.   (See previous post “Simple Chicken Stock” for my easy broth recipe)  Take the broth, add chicken, some frozen vegetables, and instant rice, and you have our family-favorite go-to meal.

Our little soup kitchen was running quite smoothly until a recent heat wave, at which point I realized that I needed to find some alternate dinner options that weren’t so warming.  Thanks to some tips from my sister-in-law, I have perfected a process of steaming chicken that takes minimal effort and produces a blank “chicken canvas” from which we create masterful dinners all week long.  Here’s the deal:

Take boneless, skinless chicken breasts and put them in an appropriately sized pan.  Add 1/2 to 1 cup of chicken broth (I use my stock, or make some quickly from chicken bullion if my supply is depleted).  Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes, or until chicken is no longer pink in the center.

When the chicken is done, you can use it immediately any way you choose, or store it in the refrigerator.   Then, all week long you can create dishes with your prepared chicken.  We cut off chunks and give it to our son, hot or cold.  For ourselves, the chicken can be used any number of ways:  cut up for chicken salad, shredded for quesadillas or  quick tacos, cubed in mac-n-cheese or other pasta dishes,  or used whole with melted cheese on a chicken sandwich.

I find this preparation to be quick and cost effective, not to mention a healthy alternative to the packaged pre-cooked chicken pieces I have seen in the poultry department in the food store.  While I recognize the convenience, I can not recognize even half of the additives that are also found on the label to keep the chicken “fresh” in those packs.  Steaming your own chicken in your own broth not only produces moist, ready to use chicken, but also keeps you one step closer to knowing where your food comes from.

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