Hye Thyme Cafe: There's Chicken in my Oatmeal ... and I love it!

Welcome to the Hy
e Thyme Cafe. Although not all of my recipes are Armenian, the name is a little nod to my Armenian grandmother who is no longer with us. The Hye refers to all things related to her homeland, and she represents all things food-related to me, so the two just seemed to go together. I can't even claim that my Armenian recipes are truly Armenian, since Greece, Turkey, Armenia, Lebanon, Syria, and even Egypt share so many foods that they've all sort of morphed into one over thousands of years.

Whether you like to cook, bake, have never done either, or just like to play with your food...come on in and join me! :)

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

There's Chicken in my Oatmeal ... and I love it!

I have never been a morning person, so getting me to eat breakfast at all (other than my drive-thru cup of Dunkin coffee and the occasional bagel) is a nearly impossible task. I love breakfast foods - just not in the morning. I'm all in when it comes to waffles for dinner, omelets for brunch, etc. Don't even get me started on bacon - yumm! I realize that oatmeal is a much loved breakfast staple, but I have never been able to choke it down. I just can't get past the texture. I love anything made with oatmeal, but have never been able to manage it in it's simplest form ... at least until recently. 

I did actually used to like the Quaker Weight Control Banana Bread Instant Oatmeal for some reason. I'd bring a packet or two with me to the office and make it with the water from the big coffee maker. The problems is that it's a "now you see it, now you don't" item. It was on the market, then off the market, then I started seeing it again, now it's gone. Not sure what's up with that, but it's not on the Quaker website.  

I was left with looking online for other possible options when I came across a trainer talking about athletes making oatmeal with chicken for the additional protein. Chicken, in oatmeal? Gross! Wait a minute, I already make chicken with barley (see Harissa), why not oats?? The Harissa is not a breakfast dish, but as my grandfather would say (the Irish one, not the Armenian one) ... It all goes in the same place! He was a big proponent of starting dinner with dessert ... just in case he didn't have room for it later. Sadly, he passed away when I was very young, so I never knew him, but he sounds like my kinda guy!  ;)

The first time I made it, I just cooked the oats (steel cut) and chicken together in chicken broth. I was surprised how much I liked it, but I decided to play with it more, so next time, I added a can of Great Northern Beans (love their velvety texture and buttery taste). The time after that, I threw in a can of Delmonte Zesty Jalapeno Petite Diced Tomatoes. As much as I love those tomatoes in pretty much anything, not everyone in the house does, so I usually leave them out in favor of a splash of Sriracha hot sauce in mine. Whichever way you make it, this is a very healthy and satisfying breakfast option.

3-4 chicken breasts cut in half or thirds
32 oz carton chicken broth (may use more)
2 c steel cut oats
1/2 t salt
1 can Great Northern Beans (optional)
1 can Del Monte Petite Diced Tomato with Zesty Jalapenos  (optional)
Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce (optional)

Although a lot of people apparently cook steel cut oats in their crockpot overnight, never knowing whether I'll be up until 1 or 4 am or what time I'll wake up and drag myself out of bed, it's really not feasible for me to plan overnight. I make it on a day when I'll be around the house, at least after the first hour or two.

Put the chicken in the crockpot on high, covered with the 32 oz of chicken broth. When it starts to approach a boiling point, turn it down to low and add the salt and oats. At that point, I ran errands for a few hours. When I got back, I noticed that as the liquid was cooking down, it started to get a little crusty around the edges. That's why I like to do it when I'm home - I'll give it a stir every now and again so that doesn't happen.

When the chicken is cooked through and tender, use two forks to shred it. Depending on what texture you like your oatmeal to be, you can either add a little more broth to loosen it up, or let it cook longer to be drier. If you are going to be including the beans and/or tomatoes, just add them in and let it cook long enough to heat through. 

So, am I a breakfast eater now? Nope! I try, but I just can't get the habit to stick. That's another reason I like making a big batch of this. Once it's made and in the fridge, I feel compelled to eat it so it doesn't go to waste, so I'll force myself to nuke a bowl when I get up. At least it gets me to start my day right for a week at a time.  ;)

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