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Fast and cheap chicken dish

I need a fast, inexpensive chicken dish that I can cook for 35 people. It's for a homeless shelter where they have no cooking/warming ability, so something that could be served room temp. would be perfect. I'm short of time this weekend and am in the middle of a home renovation, so my conditions are less than ideal. I'm looking for something homemade and comforting and will promise them better next month. Any ideas? Recipes? TIA

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  1. How about Arroz con Pollo? It's pretty cheap, made with chicken thighs, and very flavorful, and would hold for a bit. Here's my reciepe for 4-6 which could be expanded:

    Arroz con Pollo

    One chicken cut up into eight pieces or a pack of eight chicken thighs, bone / skin on
    1 large onion (chopped)
    4 or 5 cloves of garlic (smashed)
    ~1/2 a green pepper (chopped)
    ~1/2 cup pimentos (chopped jarred is fine, cooked sweet red pepper is fine...)
    A bay leaf
    Bijol Powder (you can use saffron or turmeric - this is a cheap spice that makes the rice yellow)
    Salt and Pepper
    White rice
    Frozen peas to taste
    Chicken stock
    Water
    Sofrito (jarred tomato / spice mixture OR the following ingredients as a substitute)
    - 4 ounces of tomato sauce, or a few tbsp of tomato paste (if using paste, add with the spices)
    - 2 tsp oregano
    - 2 or 2 1/2 tsp ground cumin
    - dash of cayenne pepper (if you like heat at all.)

    Put a little oil and a few tbsp of water in the bottom of a good size pot that will hold everything and that has a lid... a dutch oven works great. Add the chicken skin side down and render the fat from the skin and brown it. After it is good and brown, the water should be boiled away and you can turn the chicken over and brown the other side in the remaining fat.

    Remove the chicken to a plate, and add the chopped onion and green pepper, and saute. After a couple of minutes add the garlic, sautee until fragrant. Add whatever dry spices you are using to the oil to bloom. Add the sofrito or whatever you are using. Add the bijol or the coloring agent of your choice. Stir well.

    Decide how much rice you want with your chicken...add either chicken stock or water (or a combination) of both. Bring to fast simmer / slow boil. Add the rice to work with the liquid. Stir well. Add the chicken and any juices back in (you can remove the skin if you don't want to eat it... it has served its purpose... but it won't hurt anything left on). You can bone and chop the chicken if you want, but I don't normally bother unless I am feeding a big crowd. Nestle the pieces into the rice and water. Cover and simmer for 15 mins.

    Remove cover, add pimentos and peas, cover and cook 5 - 7 mins more until rice is done to taste. Serve.

    Notes:
    Some people use dry white wine or beer in place of some of the chicken broth.
    Left over sausage is good tossed in with the chicken.
    This is peasant food - you can't really do it incorrectly, so experiment.
    Don't use boned, skinned chicken breast. It will be tasteless.

    4 Replies
      1. re: ldkelley

        everyone likes arroz con pollo. you can't go wrong. shortcut: use already cut up chicken and boil in water, add yellow rice mix from grocery store, toss in pimentos and frozen peas near end of cooking. voila! or keep it really simple (and still delicious) and use white rice, with freshly ground black pepper. good memories.

        can also spark up either by adding a bag of frozen bell pepper slices.

        1. re: ldkelley

          If you're doing a public food thing for a shelter like this, I'd recommend against adding alcohol to the dish. Lots of folks just don't like the taste alcohol gives (I'm one of them, I replace wines with broth or juices, usually). :)

          1. re: Morganna

            i'd also stay away from strong flavors, like teriyaki (which i absolutely adore).

        2. You've got me on the room temperature part unless you serve room-temp roast or fried chicken plus potato salad and call it a picnic. Otherwise, this Chicken Teriyaki is good: lay chicken pieces in big flat pans. Sprinkle them VERY generously with soy sauce and garlic powder. Bake. When half done, pour over them canned crushed pineapple and do a little more soy sauce and garlic powder on top of the pineapple. Finish baking. Good served with rice.

          1. A chicken pasta salad could be hearty & good room temp.

            1. Chicken Marbella? Tastes great at room temp. But promising them something better next month might be setting yourself up...

              You'd need to multiply by 6-8 times, but the basic recipe is:

              2-3 pounds bone-in, skin-on thighs
              1/2 head of garlic, peeled and minced
              2 Tbsp dried oregano
              Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
              1/4 cup red wine vinegar
              1/4 cup olive oil
              1/2 cup pitted prunes
              1/4 cup pitted Spanish green olives
              1/4 cup capers with a bit of juice
              3 bay leaves
              1/2 cup brown sugar
              1/2 cup white wine
              2 Tbsp fresh Italian parsley or cilantro, finely chopped

              Combine garlic, oregano, vinegar, olive oil, prunes, olives, capers and juice, bay leaves, and salt and pepper. Add the chicken pieces and coat completely with the marinade. Cover and let marinate, refrigerated, overnight.

              Arrange chicken in a baking pan. Pour marinade over the top. Sprinkle with brown sugar and pour white wine into the pan.

              Bake at 350, basting frequently with the pan juices, until chicken is done.

              Serve solids sprinkled generously with chopped parsley. Serve pan juices as a sauce on the side.

              1 Reply
              1. re: alanbarnes

                This is what I was thinking, too. You can use thighs and breasts and get a big package of them from Costco. Capers and spanish olives can be pricey but I wouldn't leave them out.

              2. They have probably heard those promises before.... I think they will appreciate whatever you do. I don't think they are expecting gourmet.