This dish came about as a result of packed lunches I take to work. Over the summer it is usually sandwiches, sometimes with shop bought sandwich fillings and other times with home made sandwich fillings.
However with winter approaching hot packed lunches – ready meal – are the order of the day. The remit for a home made ready meal is:
- suitable for freezing
- suitable for microwaving
- not overly aromatic (this rules out curries and white fish)
- all the items of the dish will be suitable to be in one dish (for example potato dumplings have to be on top so they do not get soggy from gravy)
The first batch this winter came about when I saw a pack of Scottish chicken breast fillets whilst shopping. A think about what I could do with them resulted in a bag of shallots also being purchased. I feel the delicate flavour of shallots works well with chicken. From the store cupboard came the white wine, lemon juice, rice, peas, garlic infused olive oil, flour and seasoning.
The starting point was the chicken fillets:
These fillets were checked, any with visible sinus or membrane were has these removed and where then dipped in seasoned flour. I rarely use salt, however I regularly use freshly ground black pepper. To ensure not too much flour is taken up by the chicken, it is patted dry with kitchen towel.
The floured chicken fillets were sealed and coloured by frying in garlic infused olive oil till there was just a little colour. A slight golden colour was sought after. Brown or darked was undesirable.
Whilst I was preparing the chicken, the shallots were being sautéed with a little olive oil and white wine. The shallots were prepared by topping and tailing, removing the brown layers and cutting in half.
With the shallots softened and the chicken coloured, they were layered into the slow cooker, topped off with enough white wine to cover. Around one to two hours was sufficient to ensure that the chicken took up the white wine flavour, but did not disintegrate.
Whilst the chicken and shallots were in the slow cooker, the rice was cooked and once drained, frozen peas were added and a splash of lemon juice – not too much as a hint of lemon was wanted.
With everything ready portions were brought together in the ready meal boxes. The three pieces of chicken in each box, with a portion of rice. The shallots were strained form the stock and placed onto of the chicken. The stock was reduced until the volume had reduced to around a third and thickened. A splash of lemon juice was added for a hint of lemon – again not too much – and the stock was spoon over the chicken as a glaze.
As any good cook I have tasted as I went along. It tastes great, the hint of lemon in the reduced stock and rice works well. The rice has gone a bit sticky, but not too much. Given past experience this should freeze well with a storage life of about six to eight weeks.
All I need to do now is decide what is the next ready meal to make. Watch this space for my next creation.