Everyone loves flavor and everyone loves to save a dime, or a few hundred dollars. I have worked in the restaurant industry for over 20 years, I think it is a great industry and I can’t imagine ever doing anything else. But, I do see people who spend way too much money on eating out. I hear these people say, all the time, “I don’t like to cook at home, because it never tastes as good as it does at a restaurant.” Well, that is because most people do not know about seasoning beyond salt and pepper. For the price of one meal, for one person, at most restaurants, you can buy enough dried spices to cook meals at home for a month.
Yes, salt and pepper are important. Almost every “hot foods” recipe I have ever seen has, at least, mentioned “salt and pepper to taste”. In baking, a small amount of salt is included to enhance the sweetness. But, when a recipe calls for 1/4 tsp of sage, or 1 Tbsp of garlic powder, that is just a starting point. If you can’t taste it, add more. Tasting while you cook is SO important. You will be amazed how much less you will eat because you are never really hungry or full.
I dare anyone to walk down the seasonings isle, at even the smallest grocery store or market, and just look at what you can find. Smell things, if you like how they smell, you will probably like how they taste.
One of my first “tricks” that I came up with was adding flavor to boiled chicken. I like to boil chicken for chicken spaghetti and chicken salad. It is a fast way to cook it, even when it is frozen. I had always added Kosher salt to the water that I used to cook the chicken. Well, one day I was going through my spices and I came across poultry seasoning and sage. I never paid much attention to these spices, except at Thanksgiving, while doing the ritualistic preparation of my holiday bird. Then the infamous “light bulb” went off, chicken and turkey are a lot alike, so why not add kosher salt, sage, and poultry seasoning to my boiling water and see what it tastes like…..
In the picture I am using a 3qt. pot with 6 cups of water and a pound of boneless, skinless chicken breast. The first thing I do is put 2 Tbsp. of Kosher salt, 1 Tbsp. of Sage, and 1 Tbsp. of poultry seasoning in the pot. Then I add the chicken breast and THEN add the water. I don’t know if the order of adding the ingredients actually makes any difference, but I am superstitious and if I don’t do it this way….it’s just not right.
So, what do you think you should do with this? Most people are going to think they should just pour it down the sink. STOP THINKING THAT!!!! This is a pot full of flavor!
Once it has cooled, you can divide it between freezer containers and use it to add a little flavor when you are making pasta or sauces. I use pint containers and my digital scales to measure exactly 10.5 oz. because that is what an average can of chicken broth weighs. Now, when a recipe calls for chicken broth, I can just pull it out of the freezer and let it thaw.
Now, what to do with the chicken….
The first thing I want you to do is cut off a little piece and taste it. That’s good, isn’t it?
Next step, cut it up….
Now, gather your ingredients for that yummy chicken salad
I use about a cup of salad dressing (not mayo), a Tbsp of mustard, a Tbsp of distilled white vinegar, a tsp of prepared horseradish, and a tsp of garlic powder.
You can mix this up, taste it, if you want to add more of something….DO IT! The best part about cooking is that you are creating. You can make any dish your own.
I normally cover it and put it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to an hour, but it is good at room temperature, as well.
I like chicken salad on Texas toast bread that is toasted. These are store bought potato chips….homemade chips will be another lesson, another day