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Shredded chicken--how would you do a large amount?

My next "Monastery Impossible" challenge (filling in for a monastery cook on vacation--3 meals down, 4-5 more to go) is Chicken Tortilla Soup. Want to make a large batch because I think they don't have anything planned to eat the next day but don't want to ask me for yet another meal. I also want to make chicken enchiladas for us at home.

Most of my recipe books just poach a few chicken breasts, but if I want a lot of chicken, should I do a couple chickens? 1 chicken? I'm not a very good judge at amounts since I've only cooked for 2 for the past 20 years. There will be 7 monks this time around, but again, want to give them 2 days' worth. And this will be their main course.

Another question: I may give them the soup early on in the day to reheat for themselves later. Wondering how to handle the chopped avocado garnish: any way to keep it fresh and green if I do it myself, or do I have to ask them to do it?

Would you cheat and serve tortilla chips with it or make your own strips? Will they stay crisp if I make them the day before and keep in a ziploc bag?


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  1. Here's pretty much the old Frugal Gourmet way to do a whole chicken.


    Monks are generally pretty intelligent men :) I think they probably know how to 'do' an avocado!

    1. Oven Roast 3 whole chickens - 1 for your chicken enchiladas, 1 for two-days worth of soup, 1 to have spare meat in your (or their) freezer. I recently made a simple chicken salad (diced chicken, a little diced celery) for a 15-person party from 2 chickens and had half of the round casserole-dish left over.

      Oven roasting gives moist, flavorful chicken with minimal attention from you. You'll need to let it rest at least 30 minutes to get cool enough to remove meat from bones.

      Toss the chopped avocado garnish in lime juice and cover tightly/ wrap in plastic wrap.

      I'd serve with commercial tortilla chips.

      2 Replies
      1. re: MidwesternerTT

        Thanks, I like that idea of roasting. Have come down with a bad cold, so it sounds like a good way to do it with the least work. (And with my husband on vacation, I can recruit him for the shredding.)

        1. re: MidwesternerTT

          I agree with roasting 2 chickens but would put the third raw into the stockpot. More collagen extracted that way. Its poached meat will be juicier than what you shred from the roasted birds. Mix the meats together before serving.

        2. A whole chicken is about 40% skin and bones, so if you cooked 2 3# chickens you'd end up with about 3 1/2# of actual chicken meat. How much chicken do you need to end up with.

          Yes, if you make your tortilla strips and put them in a ziplock once they've cooled, they should be good the next day.

          I agree with c oliver, let them do the avo

          1. What I would do with the avocados is cut them in half and score each half with a knife down to the skin making slices or cubes, however you want. (This is normal operating procedure for me up to this point.) Then replace the pit and press the two halves back together again, as if it were a whole avocado. At serving time all they'd need is a spoon to scoop the avocado out of the shells.

            With the avocado reassembled like this the flesh would have little exposure to air and thus shouldn't brown much if at all, but I'd put the reassembled avocados in zip-top bags for good measure. Or maybe put each one in a plain sandwich bag and twist the opening so that there's a minimum of air inside.

            Though if you just cubed the avocado and put it in zip-top bags and squeezed all the air out, you'd probably get about the same results.

            Call the first idea the "audience participation" option. It sounds more fun to me. And I think the avocado pieces will maintain their structure better that way.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Soul Vole

              That's an interesting idea, SV! I think I'll try that (the audience participation option).

            2. After you Roast and separate the chicken, you can shred it in your Kitchenaid or other mixer with the paddle attachment. Just shred a few cups at a time, so it doesn't tear it up too small. It literally takes seconds.

              1. Another good quick way to make a lot of shredded chicken is in a big slow cooker - just put boneless skinless thighs (maybe about 1/2 lb per person per meal) in the slow cooker on low for 6-8 hours or high for 4-6. For the preparations you're planning, adding a mix of 1/2 c of fresh lime juice, 1 c water, 1 tbsp cumin or chili powder, and 2 tsp salt (less if your chili powder has salt) might be a good combo for each 3 lbs of chicken.

                2 Replies
                1. re: rovingfoodie

                  Thanks so much for this, rovingfoodie. I will definitely try this next time. I have come down sick and couldn't think straight, so just had my husband simmer the chicken in a stockpot with veggies for about an hour. It's okay, but I had wanted to infuse it with some Mexican flavors.

                  Let me ask you: whenever I cook with boneless, skinless chicken thighs, I take absolutely forever trying to get the fat out--and pretty much mangle the thighs in the process. Do you just throw them in fat and all?

                  1. re: Thanks4Food

                    Glad the idea sounds useful - sorry it didn't make it to you in time! I do try to trim whatever fat and gristle I can off of the thighs before adding them, but I don't bother trying to get them perfect. Leaving a little fat (as well as using thighs vs. breasts) actually works well in the slow cooker, since it keeps the final product a bit more moist.

                2. Do you happen to have a pressure cooker? Just get a large pack of chicken breasts and pressure cook them in some broth or water. It will make the chicken super tender and all you need to do is shred it with a couple forks.

                  You could do whole chickens, but honestly, it's a pain in the butt getting all that meat off the bones, and dark black parts near the bones. Not to mention, dealing with all the skin and fat.