We love this flavorful lunch meat – so much better then the watery store-bought versions. It is thinly sliced, garlicky, lemon chicken, spiked with dried oregano and seasoned with salt and freshly ground pepper. this recipe makes a great sandwich meat, is tasty on a salad, on crackers, or as a snack eat on it’s own.
My daughter can’t wait for me for me to make this again, as she ate up our batch quite quickly. For some reason the thinly sliced part of this recipe won her over. Whereas she wasn’t interested in eating the whole chicken thigh, once it was thinly sliced, she loved it (she said it was like “bacon” because it was so thin!).
While there are a lot of different ideas for nourishing lunches, sometimes it is nice to have lunch meat available. But it is expensive! Especially if you try to buy higher-quality. The lunch meat available to us that is humanely raised, antibiotic-free, nitrate-free is 12 dollars a pound. But it is not organic, and many nitrate free brands use celery juice, which has natural nitrates and can actually make the product even higher in nitrates than conventional brands (so beware if you are sensitive to nitrates!). I can make a pound of my own chicken lunch meat using organic chicken thighs (from Trader Joes) for around half the price. I call that a savings. Plus, it really does taste a whole lot better too.
The fun thing is that you can really use whatever type of seasonings you want. You could do a heavy pepper coating for a peppered lunch meat, you can make an Italian herb version or you could try smoked sea salt. There are endless variations here.
And whether you are packing a lunch for a child at school, or yourself or a hubby, this recipe pleases all ages in my family. To kill two birds with one stone, double the recipe, and serve half of it hot with rice and steamed vegetables for dinner, and then chill the rest for lunch meat! It is very tasty hot too.
Homemade Chicken Lunch Meat
Makes 4-6 servings
Using chicken thighs or breasts on the bone will help keep chicken moist. However, I find that it is actually more expensive per pound considering how much meat you get off of them, then using chicken thighs (which are cheaper than breasts). To help keep it moist, the lemon juice and oil help, and then I also cook it covered. As long as you don’t overcook it, it will still be quite moist. However, if you’d like to use bone on breasts or thighs, simply cook for about ten or 15 minutes longer, and cut off the breast and remove the skin, once cooled. Oh, and save those bones for making chicken stock!
1 pound chicken breasts or thighs (skinless, boneless)
3 medium garlic cloves, peeled and finely minced or put through a garlic press
1/2 to 1 teaspoon of oregano (I used my wild oregano, which is very flavorful, so I only used 1/2)
Zest from half of one organic lemon
Juice from 1/2 of a lemon
2 tablespoons of fat (melted) or oil of choice (olive oil, melted butter, ghee, etc).
Unrefined salt and freshly ground pepper
1.In a small casserole pan, combine all of the ingredients, including a generous sprinkle of salt and pepper, and gently toss with your hands. Spread out chicken in pan so that the thighs/breasts don’t touch. Cover pan with foil (don’t let it touch the food), or cover with parchment paper, pressing carefully around the chicken in the pan. Let marinate for 20 minutes. Preheat the oven to 375 F.
2. Cook for 30 minutes in the middle of the oven. Check temperature, it should be at 165 degrees F. If not, cook for another 5 minutes and check again. (It is also done when the juices run clear when cut to the middle). Remove from oven. Cool for about 15 minutes. Then refrigerate, covered until very chilled. If you want to cut really thinly, freeze for twenty minutes.
3. Using a very sharp, large knife, cut into thin slices against the grain. Enjoy! This will stay good refrigerated for 3-4 days, so freeze any extra, if it will take longer for you to use it.