Budget-beating chicken dishes

ORIELLE BERRY

While the 2016 Budget may mean we need to tighten our belts metaphorically speaking, this does not indicate we need to pull them in any tighter as far as feeding our families is concerned.

There are ways to beat the budget, and with a little extra planning and careful shopping you can plan a few meals in advance for the week, cook extra and freeze it.

While the cost of all commodities is expected to rise even further what with the fuel price increase (see pages 1 and 3), you can be cost-conscious when you trawl the supermarket shelves.

Meat, and red meat in particular, is expensive, unless you are buying cheap cuts (and personally I’d rather skip it then and move on to other protein) but chicken remains relatively inexpensive and a few packets of skinned and boned chicken breasts go a long way and you are only paying for the meat, and nothing else.

Chicken breasts freeze perfectly and if you buy a bulk pack that is fresh, you can separate them into portions for individual meals.

It may sound like a no-brainer but never defrost chicken and then re-freeze it raw. However, you can cook a range of chicken dishes; and freeze enough portions for another meal.

Here are two popular dishes that every family loves :

Chicken kebabs

1kg skinned and filleted chicken breasts

11/2 cups plain yoghurt

Juice of 1 lemon

Olive oil

Sweet chilli sauce

3 medium onions

3 red or orange peppers

Method

Cut the chicken breasts into large cubes, measuring about 3cm by 3cm.

Place them in a large sealable dish. Mix the liquid ingredients well, including a good few glugs of olive oil, and pour over the chicken. Season liberally with a salt and black pepper from a grinder and some ground dried chilli and garlic flakes.

Seal the dish and place in the fridge for a few hours. Turn the chicken regularly so that it is constantly coated with the marinade.

Get your kebab sticks ready – use 10 medium wooden sticks and soak them while the chicken is marinating in some shallow water in the sink. This prevents them from charring on the braai.

Skin the onions and cut each one into wide wedges and then cut each wedge again into 3 cm pieces. Separate the layers.

Halve and deseed the sweet peppers, and cut each half into wide strips and then into pieces roughly also measuring 3cm wide.

Thread the skewers, alternating with the onion, chicken and peppers.

It may sound like a mission but it works well to count the pieces of chicken so that each skewer gets and equal amount and likewise with the pieces of onion and pepper or do a rough estimate dividing them all into 10 servings prior to threading them.

You can either braai them or bake them in the oven but it’s much nicer cooked on a braai.

Make sure the coals are medium to low hot and cook the kebabs slowly so that they don’t char on the inside and remain raw on the inside. Serve with potato wedges and optionally some roosterkoek (braai bread). And a fresh salad.

This will feed a family of four for two meals.

Chicken schnitzels

1kg chicken breasts

Bread crumbs

Flour

Lemon juice and/or 1 egg beaten

Method

Open up each chicken breast so that the little fillet piece flaps open.

Beat the chicken breasts with a mallet or a heavy rolling pin, so that they flatten out.

Season liberally with salt, pepper and dried herbs or fresh herbs.

Dip each piece in egg or lemon juice or both, then a dusting of flour and bread crumbs.

Fry in shallow canola or sunflower oil until golden brown and drain on kitchen paper.

Serve with baby potatoes, which are pre-cooked, then coated with olive oil, and browned off in a high oven, and a fresh tomato and cucumber salad.