I find it sometimes challenging to cook diverse and nutritious meals as a single. But then, I often find myself looking at the restaurant industry for inspiration because we share the same challenge: cook a-la-minute single-serving dishes. In this post, I will share one of such inspirations and conclude with a recipe that I found delicious.
Thinking in pure business terms, I asked myself: How can I buy ingredients that maximize the yield and minimize the cost per serving? One item that met the criteria was a large bone-in and skin-on chicken split breast; I got one that weighed about 18oz, intending to get at least three servings from it. And sure enough, this breast served as a foundational component for three meals.
First, we convert the chicken into a component. For this, I seasoned it with salt and pepper, lightly oiled it, and roasted it for about 30 minutes at 380ºF. Also, I used the opportunity to roast alongside some radishes and prepared a nice tahini sauce with lemon juice and garlic. Finally, I rested the chicken breast and sliced about 6oz of it, including the skin, to build my first dish; Roast chicken breast with Radishes and Tahini.
The following day, I came back to my leftover chicken. I cut about six more oz of it and shredded the meat with my hands. I also took the roasted bones. I placed about a cup of storebought chicken stock in a small saucepan and threw in the bones and the white part of one green onion. I let the preparation simmer for about 30 minutes. Then, I removed the bones and seasoned my sock with fish sauce and palm sugar. This preparation was the base for delicious chicken pho; it just took cooking some vermicelli and assembling a bowl with the shredded chicken and some herbs.
Finally, I had some chicken left to make tacos. These tacos were so delicious that I decided to share a detailed recipe but before that, let me close the post with a final reflection. Cooking for one might look like a daunting task, and takeout might look increasingly attractive. However, let me share that the total cost for each of these three meals was about $3. When inflation creeps in and eating natural and minimally processed meals seems utopic, some small hacks might just be what brings you closer to both your financial and weight goals.
Chicken Tacos with Chipotle Mayo
You can make and save many of the components of the tacos for more batches of tacos later in the week. This will speed up prep and make it even more convenient a dish.
- Salt and pepper.
- 60g flour (white, whole wheat), or masa harina.
- 10g butter.
- ½ shallot, sliced thinly.
- 1 tbs lemon juice.
- 1 tsp sumac.
- 1 sweet pepper.
- ¼ dried ancho chile.
- ¼ dried chipotle chile.
- 1 tsp coriander seeds.
- 6 oz roasted chicken breast, shredded.
- 1 tbsp mayonnaise.
- ¼ tsp cumin.
- ½ tsp paprika
- 1 tsp tomato paste.
- 4 leaves of Belgian endive.
- Make your tortilla dough by combining in a bowl the flour (or masa harina), a pinch of salt, the butter, and enough warm water to make the dough come together and become pliable. Leave it to rest in a bag or a sealed container while preparing your other components.
- Place your shallot slices, lemon juice, and sumac in a small container. Mix thoroughly and let it pickle until you assemble your tacos.
- Toast your dried chiles and sweet pepper in a very hot skillet. Leave the pepper in the skillet, turning it occasionally until the skin looks burnt and the flesh softens. Remove from the heat, let it cool off, peel, and discard the burnt flesh. Finally, thinly slice it.
- Grind your toasted chiles and coriander seeds in a spice grinder, or using a mortar and pestle, this spice mixture will serve as the base for the chipotle mayo and season the chicken.
- In a small container, mix the mayonnaise, a teaspoon of the chipotle spice mixture, and some water to thin it out. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- In a small skillet, heat some olive oil, add your chicken, add the tomato paste, 1 tsp of the chipotle spice mixture, ¼ tsp cumin, and ½ tsp paprika cook for 3 or 4 minutes, adding some water to build a sauce.
- Divide your dough into two balls of about 50g each. Press them with a tortilla press and cook on a scorching skillet, 1 minute on the first side, 2 minutes on the second, and finally 30 seconds on the first side again, so it puffs.
- Assemble your tacos by adding the endive leaves, chicken, pickled onions, roasted pepper, chipotle mayo, and cilantro.
- Don’t forget to enjoy!