This meal is three things: easy, flavorful and healthy. It’s the trifecta of college dinners. Keep in mind there is a key piece of technology you’ll need in your kitchen.
That technology is a slow cooker. These are found at nearly every garage sale for $5-10 and will last for years and years.
The price for each serving of this meal runs around $5.50. Buying the chicken, barbecue sauce, bread and sweet potato fries in bulk saves significant cash if you have the freezer space.
I started this meal at 1 p.m. on the day of the dinner. It was easy — toss some chicken in the slow cooker and leave for the library for some chemistry studying. When I came back, the entire apartment smelled like barbecue. I’m sure the smell alone drew the neighbor’s envy.
Set chicken breasts in slow cooker (small size slow cookers acceptable for this recipe) with barbecue sauce. Set slow cooker to “low” setting. Leave it for seven and a half hours. Occupying yourself while you know delicious food is cooking is the only challenge to making the meal.
Seven and a half hours after starting the slow cooker, set the oven to 400 degrees F. Cover the cookie sheet with aluminum foil. Chop the sweet potato into quarter inch wide strips. I cheated here and bought sweet potato fries from the frozen section of Costco. Cutting a sweet potato is too difficult with the quality of knives a college student can afford, and the pre-cut ones are just as delicious and healthy. Plus, bulk is better.
Spray aluminum foil with cooking spray and place sweet potato fries on the pan. Place the pan in the oven for 25 minutes.
Next up is the vegetable steaming. Boil one cup of water in a medium sized saucepan. Thoroughly wash carrots and broccoli. Slice carrots at a diagonal and slice broccoli crowns off the stalk. This is where the finesse of the chef comes in — if you want to do carrot stalks instead of slices, that’s totally cool. Adding in the broccoli stalk as well as the crowns is an excellent idea, and a good way to make the broccoli go even further.
Place the carrots into the heat-safe strainer first, followed by the broccoli, because it ensures the carrots fully cook. I didn’t think of this until after I had placed the broccoli in first, so I had to dump it all out and reorganize. Once the water boils, place the strainer with the carrots and broccoli in the saucepan and place the lid on top. Turn the heat down to medium and let the vegetables steam for five minutes.
The finishing touches: toast the bread in the toaster, open the slow cooker lid and shred the chicken using two forks to pull the meat apart. Then plate your dinner: first sandwiches, then sweet potato fries followed by steamed vegetables.
2 thawed chicken breasts
1 cup Kenai Premier spicy barbecue sauce
8 pieces of Dave’s Killer Bread (substitute: any other whole wheat bread)
1 medium sweet potato
3 stalks broccoli
6 medium sized carrots
Start to finish: 8 hours (but only 30 minutes of actual in-kitchen work).