Economy and efficiency in the kitchen are two of the core pillars of my approach to cooking. If you can effectively make one meal stretch into two — and do so in a creative way that doesn’t feel like reheated leftovers — the chef can declare a culinary victory.
I developed one such formula this week with a delicious braised chicken, which became a quinoa “bowl” the next night. Marinating the chicken pieces added depth, but if time is short-ish, the braising sauce delivers plenty of flavor. I used bone-in breasts, which I had sitting in the freezer, but thighs, legs or a whole cut-up bird would work well. Choose what suits your family and your budget.
This could certainly be done in a crockpot, but I’m old school (and limited in kitchen storage space) so I stick with the traditional method.
For the quinoa bowl, using the braising sauce as the cooking liquid brings a welcome flavor to the relatively bland quinoa and ensures that nothing is wasted on the second night. I kept it simple, serving the quinoa with the chicken alone, but you could get supercreative with this, adding veggies, herbs, garbanzo beans, nuts, etc.
The first night, I accompanied the braised chicken with roasted carrots and a green salad of baby lettuces, avocados and pumpkin seeds tossed with a simple vinaigrette. With the quinoa bowl, I sautéed broccoli rabe in garlic and red pepper flakes. The sharpness of the greens played well with the relative neutrality of the quinoa chicken bowl — any hardy winter green would marry nicely here — look for kale, collards, turnip or mustard greens.
For dessert, consider a contrasting texture and flavor.
Because both of these dishes fall into the lighter side of the hearty comfort food zone, go for contrast in dessert. Offer up a citrus-y sorbet, some fresh fruit or a selection of dark chocolates.
Serves 2-3 with leftovers
4 bone-in, skin-on chicken pieces
1 onion, sliced
4 cloves garlic, crushed
4 tablespoons oil, divided
1 teaspoon salt
Lots of fresh cracked pepper
2 cups white wine, divided
1 cup water or broth
2 tablespoons Wondra flour (or corn starch/regular flour)
In a large zip-close bag, place the chicken, salt, pepper, onions, garlic, 2 tablespoons of garlic and ½ cup white wine. Allow it to sit for a few hours or overnight.
Drain the marinade, separating the onions/chicken from the liquid; save the liquid for braising.
In a large skillet with a cover, place the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil and sauté the onions until fragrant. Add the chicken, sear it on both sides and add the marinade liquid. Add the remaining wine and broth or water and bring it to a boil. Lower the heat, cover and simmer for 2 hours until the chicken is fork tender. If the liquid evaporates during cooking, add more wine and water or broth to prevent it from drying out.
Push the chicken to the side of the pan and add the flour to the liquid. Using a whisk, blend the flour into the liquid to thicken; it should be the consistency of gravy.
Taste the sauce for seasoning, add salt and pepper if needed, and serve.
Second Night Quinoa Chicken Bowl
1 cup quinoa, rinsed
¾ cup leftover sauce from chicken (see above)
1¼ cups water
1½ cups (or more) shredded chicken, leftover from braise
Salt and pepper to taste
In a medium-sized pot, place the quinoa, water and sauce. Bring it to a boil, lower the heat and cover.
Simmer until the water is absorbed, and add the chicken. Stir and allow it to heat through.
Serve plain, or add cooked vegetables, garbanzo beans, herbs, nuts, etc.
Keri White is a Philadelphia-based food writer.