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June 24, 2012 / beatricebunny

Bulk Cooking

I have been experimenting with bulk cooking the last couple of weeks with some success.  For me, the most common kind of bulk cooking is the easiest – my family is made up of two people, so if, for example, I roast a whole chicken, we have chicken for several days.  Ideally, I also have time to break down the bones for stock and etc, but lately that hasn’t happened as often as I like.  The problem with this is that I don’t enjoy eating the same food several days in row, even if it is delicious.  The one exception to this is breakfast.  I can eat the same weekday breakfast with little complaint, though I prefer variety.  Ironically, this is the one meal that I don’t bulk cook for – a quandary.

I’m a member of Pinterest, and several people I follow there started posting pins of Macheesmo’s Spinach and Egg Breakfast Sandwich.  This is a brilliant idea.  I don’t make mine quite like his.  For starters, I use large, single serve ramekins because they are wider and allow the eggs to spread out, so that rather than having to “squish” the egg down.  It simply fills the English muffin.  Second, I toasted my muffins, because I cannot abide soggy food.  The next round, I will only lightly toast them, because they actually got a little harder than I’d like.  Third, I didn’t freeze the cheese.  Frozen cheese acquires a texture that I don’t care for, so I slap half a slice of Munster cheese onto mine prior to reheating.  I also topped mine with turkey sausage, but that’s just accessorizing.    The other nice thing about leaving the cheese off, is that without the “glue” holding the sandwich together, I can get some variety.  Tomatoes just came into season here, and I am very much looking forward to topping a hot breakfast sandwich with a cold tomato.  I agree with him entirely about the re-heating in the oven being the superior choice; however, I am eating these in a hotel room and my husband is one of those rare souls who does leave the house in less than half an hour, so we are microwaving them.  At home, we have a “reheat” option on the microwave that is about perfect.  I am still working on the right time and temp for a hotel microwave.

Speaking of hotel rooms – I get mighty weary of eating out all the time, but (again) I don’t care to eat the same meal day-after-day.  I am currently in the midst of an experiment to not have to cook multiple things on the weekend so that I can have some variety during the week.  To achieve satisfaction, I am returning to an old favorite, foil packet meals.  I bought skinless, boneless chicken thighs at the farmers market on Saturday, and thawed them overnight.  It took a little time to prep them, but at the end of the process, I have six 5+ ounce portions of thighs spiced two different ways.  I will pack four of them with me for my weeknight meals and leave two for my husband to take to work.  If I had re-read my own earlier post about how I spiced the fish for foil cooking, I would have had three flavor profiles – “Tex-mex,” “Asian,” and “Italian.”  As is, I have tex-mex and Italian.

To bake these chickens, I preheated the over to 425 degrees, and then prepped the packets one at a time.  For all packets, I spread out a large piece of aluminum foil and placed 1/2 tablespoon of oil and a little lemon juice on the foil.  Then I rubbed both sides of the chicken through the oil and lemon juice (for sanitary reasons, I use one hand for raw meat and the other hand for spices, this way, I do not contaminate my spices with raw chicken).    To the Tex-Mex chicken, I added chile verde infused salt, ground cumin, garlic, black pepper, and fresh cilantro.  In writing this, I just remembered that we got the first hot pepper of the season in our farmers market basket this week.  If I had remembered, this also would have made the packet.  Alas, it did not.  The Italian themed chicken has garlic, salt, pepper, and loads of fresh basil.  I wrapped the packets, placed them on a cookie sheet and baked for 35 minutes.  After checking the largest piece for doneness, I opened the packets so that the heat wouldn’t keep cooking them.  I’ll be packing them up once they cool and sticking them in a cooler tomorrow morning to haul to my hotel.  Home cooking makes such a difference for homesickness!

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