Help! Last-minute dinner date recipe - limited time and ingredients
November 8, 2021 4:15 AM   Subscribe

Help me metafilter please. I have someone coming over for a dinner date tonight and would like to make something really nice. But, it's 12pm UK time, they are coming by 6, and I have to work until at least 4.30. I am a decent cook, but don't have a lot of fresh food in the house or much time. The main thing I have is a bunch of cooked chicken breasts. Can I turn that into something good?

There is a small shop near me that sells mostly prepared food, so they are unlikely to have much fresh meat or produce, but will have things like cream, pasta, bread, cheese, deli meat, sauces etc. I was thinking some kind of nice pasta with cooked chicken and creamy sauce?! If the shop has seafood I could do that with lemon and prawns, but it's unlikely. Baked chicken with tomato sauce and mozarella and greens? No allergies or intolerances except not too spicy and no alcohol.

What I do have:

cooked chicken breast;
mange tout;
parmesan (but no other cheese);
full pantry (butter, stock, rice, spices, pasta, flour, oil, all that stuff but out of soy sauce);
fresh parsley, rosemary, tarragon.

Thanks in advance!
posted by sedimentary_deer to Food & Drink (10 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Can you do the Cooks Illustrated chicken pot pie? It uses fork-shredded poached chicken breast with a simple gravy. Calls for carrots, peas, and celery, but would be fine with broccoli and mange tout (snow peas?) I never add the sherry. I like it best with this amazing pie crust but it sounds like you have what you need for either that or biscuits if you prefer.
posted by pocams at 4:41 AM on November 8, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I feel like you can use the chicken to make a chicken alfredo pasta (sample recipe here). I see that's along the lines of what you were thinking anyway, and it looks like a nice safe choice.
posted by unicorn chaser at 4:44 AM on November 8, 2021 [6 favorites]

Best answer: Two ideas: either a chicken salad (and then you will need mayonnaise and good bread or toast), or a pot pie with a puff pastry top.

For the salad: cut the chicken breast into neat slices, arrange on a nice dish, make a pattern of mayo on top, and decorate with blanched mange-tout. It looks too simple, but I just did it yesterday and it was a huge success.

For the pie: Make a velouté. First make a roux, by combining equal amounts of flour and butter and heating till the paste is a very light brown. Add chicken stock slowly while stirring vigorously (from a cube with boiled water is good, from a can or carton is better). Let it reduce, then add full or double cream to taste. Reduce more. Add sliced chicken breast and mange-tout to the sauce, put the mixture in an ovenproof dish and cover with a layer of store-bought puff-pastry. Bake till the top is golden. Decorate with parsley and serve with steamed broccoli that are well seasoned with salt, and dressed with butter or olive oil.
posted by mumimor at 4:51 AM on November 8, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Quick and easy?
What kind of stock? Regardless, make a basic suace out of it, use whatever spices you have!
2 cups broth
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce (optional)
¼ cup cold water + 3 tablespoons corn starch
Birng broth to boil. Stir in garlic powder, onion powder, and worcestershire sauce.
Whisk together cold water and corn starch until dissolved. Stir until thickened; add salt/pepper.
Cook the pasta, cut up the chicken, mix it in with the gravy, pour on top of pasta, serve with your steamed veggies.
posted by BozoBurgerBonanza at 4:52 AM on November 8, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Break the broccoli into florets, toss it with oil and a little salt and spread onto a baking sheet. Roast in a hot oven until it’s tender, sprinkle liberally with parmesan and pop it back in the oven to brown a bit. By roasting the broccoli in the oven you can do other things simultaneously without it taking up counter space.

I would then do a lighter version of chicken piccata. Make nice slices of the chicken breast and set them aside. Cook your pasta until a bit underdone. Do you have garlic, capers, lemon, chicken stock, and butter? Slice some garlic and let it gently cook in a large pan with a sizable knob of butter. Sprinkle in some flour and let it cook down in the butter, this will add body to your sauce. Then add capers, which you can chop a bit if you like or leave them whole, plus some of the brine, maybe a spoonful of each per portion. Add chicken stock and let it simmer for a bit so everything melds together and finish with the zest and juice of a lemon. At this point you should taste for salt and you can add pepper, too. Then lay in your chicken slices so they get bathed in buttery sauce and warm through, remove, and add in your pasta to finish cooking in the sauce. Plate the pasta with the chicken on top and sprinkle with some parsley and maybe a few whole capers. Since you aren’t using wine in the sauce because no alcohol, you might want to go heavy on the lemon. If you have them, some toasted bread crumbs would add a nice crunch and help evoke the fried cutlet of a traditional piccata.

Make a fancy infused water with sliced apple and rosemary sprigs with a squeeze of lemon, it will smell a little piney and a little autumnal and the apples won’t oxidize because of the citrus.
posted by Mizu at 5:02 AM on November 8, 2021 [16 favorites]

Best answer: I agree with roasting the broccoli in the oven as Mizu suggests. For a foolproof step by step, I make this crispy broccoli with lemon from smitten kitchen constantly. It is a very easy recipe and so delicious.
posted by twelve cent archie at 6:08 AM on November 8, 2021 [3 favorites]

Best answer: I recommend running to the store and buying spaghetti, eggs, and bacon, and a frozen veg. Make carbonara. I recommend the "modern carbonara" from this site: Link

It's very easy, delicious, and I've made it to impress several people. Plus there's a video!
posted by bbqturtle at 6:24 AM on November 8, 2021 [3 favorites]

Best answer: If your pantry includes an onion and a can of tomatoes and you have enough butter, it's hard to go wrong with Marcella Hazan's tomato sauce - warm up the chicken in it if you want and serve on pasta; if you have yeast, you can get a herby focaccia in the oven in 90 minutes for the side.
posted by Superilla at 8:19 AM on November 8, 2021 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Pesto baked chicken:

Preheat oven to 400˚F
Place chicken breast in a baking dish. Season chicken with salt and pepper, to taste.
Spread pesto on each chicken breast.
Top with mozzarella cheese.
Bake for 40 minutes.
posted by dianeF at 2:33 PM on November 8, 2021 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks so much - amazing and useful answers. I went with roasted broccoli with Parmesan and then chicken with sauce/picata as Mizo suggested. But I am definitely going to try the modern carbonara another time, and the chicken with pastry/pesto/sauce.

I knew metafilter would come to the rescue - thanks all!
posted by sedimentary_deer at 2:35 AM on November 9, 2021 [3 favorites]

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