It’s a little odd to begin a piece about using leftover shredded chicken with instructions on how to poach chicken, but I am a huge fan of no-fuss, foolproof methods. A friend shared this one with me years ago and I thank her every time I use it.
This method is for boneless, skinless thighs & breasts.
FOOLPROOF CHICKEN POACHING
Place 2 chicken breasts in a deep pan/pot & add cold water to cover them, plus an inch or so.
Put the pan over medium high heat and bring to a boil.
Turn off the heat, cover tightly and set timer for 20 minutes.
Remove chicken from pan, cool and then shred.
A few more tortilla-based suggestions for using shredded chicken. I’m not calling them Mexican dishes, because, as you may have noticed, my basic beans and rice (see recipe for GUATEMALAN RICE here) are from the beautiful neighboring country of Guatemala.
TOSTADAS are a delicious way to get salad, beans, chicken and so forth on a crispy tortilla. Frying the corn tortillas is easy, but it definitely takes some practice to avoid having chewy, oily tortillas. So for now I will suggest looking in the Mexican food section of the grocery store or in a Latino market if there’s one nearby. You will find a tall bag of already fried tortillas. Couldn’t be easier: melt some grated cheese (cheddar, Monterey jack, your choice) on top of each one – use oven or toaster oven, to maintain crispiness, not microwave. Then pile on toppings. See list of fillings under SOFT TACOS.
To get the same crunch and appeal to young people, find some unsalted corn tortilla chips and make up a platter of nachos. Spread chips evenly on cookie sheet covered with foil, sprinkle the shredded chicken, beans, shredded cheese. Quick melt under broiler – do not walk away from oven! Add salsa (see quick salsa with SOFT TACO recipe), avocado, hot peppers if you like. A salad on the side and supper becomes a happy feast.
And speaking of child-pleasing, let us not neglect the ubiquitous, transformable and delicious QUESADILLA. Plain cheese inside a folded flour tortilla, heated in the micro, toaster oven or regular oven are fine. Personally, I like to heat up my trusty cast iron pan (“seasoned”) and toast the quesadilla in there. Superior flavor, a little bit of browning of the tortilla (or a slight char, if that’s your taste.)
Add some shredded chicken to the cheese for a classic flavor mix. A surprisingly tasty version includes deli-sliced turkey, thinly sliced apples (Granny Smith’s tartness is nice) and some cheese…anything from cheddar/jack to goat cheese to blue cheese. An experiment one day led to a delightful surprise: I slipped some left over roasted vegetables inside, with the cheese. I especially like using roasted onions (stove-top-caramelized onions would work well also) and red peppers. For the chunkier roasted veggies, like carrots, sweet potatoes, parsnips, white potatoes, etc, you just need to do a little chopping to soften them up. The roasted flavor is delicious!
Quesadillas are a great place to experiment with flavor combinations.
One more trick about using shredded chicken. Sometimes the meat may seem a little dried out or, if poached instead of roasted, a little bland. Put the chicken you need in a small bowl, add some powdered chicken bullion and some hot water, stir and let it sit for 5-10 minutes. Drain and use. It’s a dandy way to heat up, season and juicify the shreds.
Next time, Couscous Curry with shredded chicken.