Crock Pot Lemon Pepper Chicken

We had some chicken, and I wanted protein on hand to throw in pasta that cooks up quick, so I put some stuff in a crock pot.

  • chicken thighs
  • lemon juice
  • pepper
  • lemon pepper seasoning
  • chicken broth

I made sure the chicken was all covered – mostly in seasoning, but also liquid – and put it on low while I went to campus for the day. When I got home, I shredded it with a pair of forks and turned it to ‘keep warm’ and let it absorb liquid for like half an hour or whatever. It makes a good topping for baked potatoes or pasta or rice – any kind of carbohydrate you can make happen, and soaks up pretty much all of the liquid it cooked in.

Chicken Caesar Salad & marinade tips

Today for lunch we had chicken caesar salad. It came from a bag, because bagged salad is easy and the perfect size for a meal salad for two people. Getting just lettuce is cheaper, but your time is also valuable, and prioritizing is important.

So the lettuce went in a big bowl, and I started the chicken. Lemon pepper chicken again, because we love it. It ends up

Mm, salad

Mm, salad.

tasting delicious, and you can just dump the whole thing in the pan so the chicken ends up with a little bit of sauce. About 2/3 of the way through cooking, I cut up the chicken with shears so that it’d be in little bite-sized chunks and even more thoroughly coated in seasoning. I cannot overstate how much I love lemon pepper chicken. When the chicken’s done, I put the dressing and croutons in the salad, put the lid on our giant plastic bowl, and shook vigorously to toss it. Divvy that up in two dishes, add some optional parmesan, and put the chicken on top.

A little more about marinades: my mom has much the same approach to cooking that I do, very casual and haphazard (as you might guess, neither of us are big bakers). So she just had basic principles for a marinade.

Basic marinade ingredients:

  • something sweet (honey, sugar, w/e)
  • something acidic (citrus juice, vinegar, soy sauce)
  • an oil (one that’s liquid at fridge temperatures)

The acidic thing is supposed to make the meat more tender, I think the sweet thing is supposed to balance that flavor-wise, and the oil is, like, the transfer medium to make the meat taste more like the stuff in the marinade. Or something. I’m not 100% on why it works, I just know it does. Generally you’re going to want more than just the basics – like, you could theoretically marinate┬áthe chicken in just honey, lemon juice, and vegetable oil, but it’d be really sad without the pepper in it, too.

Lemon Pepper Chicken Pasta

A couple days ago I took a couple chicken thighs out of the freezer – okay, I should probably back up.

We don’t grocery shop very often, and we go to a 24 hour grocery store, so we shop at midnight and stock up. And it’s cheaper per unit to get the family packs of chicken, so we get those. Then, as soon as we get home, part of putting the groceries away is opening up the packages of chicken and putting them in locking sandwich bags in sets of two – unless I’m planning something like Tortilla Soup, in which case I put as many as I want in that batch in its own bag. Then whatever I don’t plan to use in the next couple days goes in the freezer for later convenience. It’s slightly more effort than just getting them in two packs or something, but it’s lower packaging (you can re-use the bags! or not, I don’t judge), stores easily, and is an inexpensive way to go.

Okay, so I got a couple chicken thighs out of the freezer, and then added lemon juice, pepper, lemon pepper seasoning salt, a little bit of vegetable oil and a tiny drop of honey, squished the air out of the bag, and stuck that in the fridge a couple days. You can have it ready later the same day if you let it thaw on the counter in the marinade, but I like to get it good and marinated and also tend to forget about things I leave on the counter for more than the length of an episode of something on Netflix.

Then for dinner tonight I started water for pasta and then got the chicken out of the fridge and dumped it in a non-stick frying pan and turned the stove on to medium heat. I also added a little more lemon juice and lemon pepper seasoning salt, but whether or not you want more liquid is gonna depend how much marinade you had to start with. When the chicken started making really enthusiastic noises and showing beige around the edges, I flipped it.

The pasta water (salted! always) started boiling, so I added a couple handfuls of rotini (any brand but Barilla). Then I cut up the chicken into bite-sized chunks. Okay, I say ‘cut,’ but what I did was spear them and then use kitchen tongs to cut bits off. Less fussing with touching hot stuff and trying to cut it up, less fussing with cutting boards, it works for me. Then I turned the pan down to medium-low heat and added butter. Butter makes everything delicious. Measuring is for jerks, of course, but I used a chunk that was slightly more than a cube cut off a stick. Use however much butter makes you happy, though.

Cook the pasta following package directions, bearing in mind that al dente is the morally correct choice. When it’s done, don’t drain it, though: use tongs or a slotted spoon or one of those pasta scoops to put it in the pan with the sauce. You want to include a bit of the pasta water in the sauce, and your pasta will never stick together this way. Mix together and serve. I didn’t get any pictures because I spent all day working on school stuff and this was pretty much the only non-school and non-avoiding-living-in-filth thing I did between 9 am and midnight, so w/e. I have an essay to get back to.

Ingredients:

  • 2 chicken thighs
  • honey
  • vegetable oil
  • pepper
  • lemon pepper seasoning salt
  • lemon juice
  • butter
  • pasta

Simplified directions:

Apply everything but butter and pasta to chicken. Marinate. Apply medium heat. Cook pasta. Cut up chicken in little bits. Apply butter and pasta to chicken.