Jumping from the frying pan to the electric skillet

Not long ago, my friend Marlen was telling me about her kitchen woes that surfaced during a remodel. Somehow, somewhere, some wires in her fabulous new double oven and stovetop went awry and left her without an oven or stove for several weeks while awaiting repair.

During that time without the big appliances, she cooked most of their meals in her electric skillet and crock pot. Electric skillets are kitchen gadgets I never even thought about, even though they’ve been around as convenience appliances for many years.

While I have a deep appreciation for cooking the “old-fashioned” way, I also truly appreciate when things can happen a little easier in the kitchen. I can’t recall my mother ever using an electric skillet, but I remember my grandmother frying chicken in hers… so that almost makes an electric skillet old-fashioned, right?

After last year’s enchilada supper when I prepared Mexican rice for 200 people, my electric-skillet-awareness was raised and I decided I needed an electric skillet. It was so easy to evenly sauté the large amount of onions and evenly brown the rice at a certain temperature, in one handy dandy little cooker, and I was sold.

When I told my husband I really needed to get an electric skillet, he told me that I already had one…  really big one that I could put four different skillets on at once and fill with things inside to cook at the same time and that no, I did not need an electric skillet. Sigh.

So, months later when Marlen told me about how she was able to keep them well fed on home cooking without an oven or stove, that spark of need for an electric skillet was reignited within.

I shopped around online and soon, had a brand new electric skillet in my hot little hands. And then, guilt washed over me and I stuck it in the pantry, with the half-intention of returning it because really, I had a perfectly good oven and many other kitchen gadgets already. It wasn’t very expensive, but still was unnecessary… yet I just couldn’t bring myself to send it back.

After a couple months in the pantry, my electric skillet made its debut in the kitchen a couple days ago. Only having to wash one skillet is very refreshing when you cook all your meals at home as we’ve been doing for several months now. There have been lots of dishes to wash.

I decided that our first electric skillet meal would be fried rice. We prefer brown rice to white because it has more fiber, vitamins and minerals, and so I tossed some short grain brown rice in the ever-trusty InstantPot for a big batch of perfect-every-time rice. I diced some chicken breasts and sautéed them in the new electric skillet with sesame oil, removed the nicely browned meat and then put my chopped veggies in the skillet and cooked them all evenly and quickly, at about 250 degrees.

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Then I added the cooked chicken, some sauces, the rice, and cooked it all together long enough to reheat the chicken, and suddenly, we had an enormous electric skillet of chicken fried rice.

 

And, there was only one skillet to clean. It was easy and delicious and if I’d known the electric skillet was so fantastic, I would’ve made room in the kitchen for it the moment it arrived.

The next night, I seared scallops, quickly and evenly. I moved them over to one side of the skillet, and tossed in some fresh green beans with butter and let them soften a little. Again, one skillet to clean.

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Next up, pancakes and bacon. You can even bake cakes in an electric skillet. I think I’m going to have to make a permanent space in the kitchen for the electric skillet. I don’t know how I’ve lived this long without one.

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Easy Chicken Fried Rice
(you don’t need an electric skillet for this, but it sure makes life easy)
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons vegetable oil (I use avocado oil)
¾ to 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, diced into ½-inch pieces
1-1/2 cups frozen peas and diced carrots blend (I used about 2 cups fresh diced carrots, red bell pepper, white onion and purple cabbage because I didn’t have any frozen veggies)
3 green onions, trimmed and sliced into rounds
3 garlic cloves, finely minced
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
4 cups cooked rice
3-4 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce (I use aminos)
salt and pepper to taste

In a large non-stick skillet or wok, add the oils and chicken and cover over medium-high heat for about 3-5 minutes, turning chicken to cook evenly. Cooking time varies depending on chicken thickness.

Remove chicken with a slotted spoon, leaving oils in skillet.

Add the veggies and cook for about 2 minutes (a little longer if fresh) until the veggies begin to soften, stir often. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.

Move the vegetables to one side of the skillet, add the eggs to the other side and cook to scramble.

Add the chicken, rice, evenly drizzle with soy sauce, optional salt and pepper and stir to combine. Cook for about 2 minutes, or until chicken is reheated through. Recipe is best warm and fresh but it will keep airtight in the fridge for up to five days or in the freezer for up to 4 months.

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