I’ve gone to the Taste of Home Cooking Schools a couple of times in my life. In between teaching the audience how to make four dozen kinds of Chex mix in the microwave (which is a sin), sometimes the chefs disperse a little chicken nugget of wisdom. One such nugget was a charismatic young chef who told us all this: “a lot of people don’t know how to use shrink. If you can figure out how to use shrink, you can do anything.”
What is shrink?
See the wrinkles on the green pepper there? That’s shrink. Shrink is basically produce that is almost bad (or parts that are bad) but is still safe and edible. There’s nothing wrong with it except it looks unappealing and not too pleasant to eat.
Guess what? Wrinkly produce doesn’t taste any better or worse than regular produce, and it’s a lot cheaper. Did you know at some grocery stores you can buy ugly produce at a steep discount? It’s a great money-saving option.
Today, I made shrink chicken fajitas and they were pretty much to die for. I couldn’t even tell which pieces of my peppers were a bit shrinky and which were fine.
First, cut up four chicken breasts into nice thin strips and put them in a gallon Ziploc bag. Then, clean the snot out of everything the chicken touched, might have touched, or could have touched by proxy (put on your paranoid cap and think Outbreak or Contagion when cleaning your chicken-prep area). Add to the bag:
- 2 T. olive oil
- 1 1/4 t. cumin
- 1/2-3/4 t. crushed red pepper (or 1/4-1/2 t. ground red pepper)
- Add in 1/4 t. celery salt just for kicks.
Let the chicken marinate for an hour or a half day, depending on how much time you have.
Then, get out the grill basket.
Put the chicken in the basket on a medium heat grill.
There are two schools of thought on grilling: you can either obsessively flip, turn, or stir everything you grill, or you can just let it sit and turn your food once or twice. I’m of the latter school. Do what you want, but I am telling you: leave your grill alone. Unless there are flames shooting out of your grill, or it’s been 10 minutes, just. let. it. be.
So, since you are doing what you want with your grill (but leaving it alone), you have some time to cut up your peppers and onion. You’ll need two peppers and half an onion for this recipe. Cut the peppers into this strips and then cut up your onion.
Since these veggies cook at a slightly different rate, wait until the chicken is *almost* done to your liking, transfer the onion slices to a bowl, drizzle with a touch of olive oil and put some black pepper over them, then add to the chicken. About five minutes later, stir the chicken/onion mix and add the peppers.
Sometimes you can tell your food is going to be delicious before it’s even done. This is one of those meals. Stir the peppers once or twice on the grill until they are done to your liking.
Serve on a tortilla with salsa and cheese (of course).
See? Use your shrink and do anything!