Welcome to week 5 of Kitchen Classroom 2021, where America’s Test Kitchen Kids is sharing a weekly kid-tested and kid-approved recipe, hands-on experiment, or activity paired with a “Learning Moment” that brings learning to life in the kitchen.
Starting this week, we’re trying something new here at Kitchen Classroom. We know you've got a lot on your plates these days, from kids' remote and in-person school commitments to after-school programming and more. To make the most of kids' time in the kitchen (and your time!), we are going to focus on one recipe or hands-on activity in each week of Kitchen Classroom. It might be a recipe or activity kids can tackle almost entirely on their own, or something that leads to quality time for the whole family. And, as always, we're pairing each piece of content with a Learning Moment to expand kids' knowledge and skills when they're in the kitchen. We're going to rotate through four monthly Kitchen Classroom content categories:
- Kids Cook Dinner (or Breakfast!): A recipe for a main dish or full meal that allows kids to confidently take the lead on cooking for the whole family.
- Weekend Project: A larger-scale baking or DIY project that needs a little extra time, is great for the whole family to tackle together, and is definitely worth the effort!
- Cooking For You: Easy snacks and lunches that kids can make for themselves with minimal adult help to build independence in the kitchen.
- Kitchen STEAM Lab: Hands-on science, technology, engineering, arts, and math activities and experiments that allow kids to explore the why’s and how’s of food and cooking.
First up this week: Kids Cook Dinner! This month, kids can gather the family for Taco Tuesday (or any day!), making Shredded Chicken Tacos and preparing the toppings to go with them. As they cook, they’ll learn more about simmering, boiling, and reducing sauces.
Don’t forget to share what your family makes by tagging @testkitchenkids or using #ATKkids on Instagram, or by sending photos to firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit the America’s Test Kitchen Kids website for more culinary content designed especially for kids, plus all of the Kitchen Classroom content in one easy-to-scan location.
Here’s what’s cooking for the week of February 1st through 7th, 2021.
Kids Cook Dinner: Shredded Chicken Tacos
Tacos are so much fun because everyone can assemble them right at the table—a homemade taco bar! Before starting to cook the chicken, have kids prepare and set out toppings for family members to choose from, each in their own bowl. Shredded romaine lettuce, chopped tomatoes, and shredded cheese are classic choices, as are diced avocado, sour cream, hot sauce, and lime wedges. For next-level toppings, kids can also try out making our Quick Tomato Salsa, Guacamole, and/or Pickled Red Onions.
[GET THE RECIPE]
What You’ll Need
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
½ teaspoon chili powder
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup orange juice
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 (8-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut in half lengthwise
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
8 (6-inch) flour or corn tortillas
Toppings (see above)
Physical Science (States of Matter):
In step 2 of this recipe, kids are asked to bring the sauce in the skillet to a boil, and then reduce the heat to keep the sauce at a simmer. Ask kids: What’s the difference between a boil and a simmer? What will you be looking for to know when the mixture is boiling?
Explain to kids that as the heat from the stove is transferred to the liquid in the pan, the molecules in the liquid begin to move faster and faster. When they get hot enough and move fast enough, the mixture will change from a liquid into a gas. The bubbles you see in a liquid as it cooks are caused by the gas escaping into the air.
In cooking, a boil is when you see LOTS of large bubbles breaking the surface of the liquid constantly and rapidly. It usually occurs when a mixture is over high heat. A simmer is a more gentle boil—smaller bubbles break often across the surface of the liquid. It usually occurs over lower heat.
After placing the chicken in the skillet in step 2, have kids predict how long they think it will take for the mixture to reach a boil. If you have a timer or phone with a stopwatch function, use it to measure how long it takes, and how close kids’ predictions are. Have kids keep a close eye on the skillet, and call out when they think the mixture meets the definition of a boil. Do you or other family members agree? When everyone agrees the mixture is at a full boil, have kids turn down the heat as directed. Can they observe the gentler simmer before putting the lid on?
Kids can see the result of their boiling and simmering in step 4 of the recipe: After the chicken is cooked and removed from the pan, kids will continue cooking the sauce until it thickens. Ask kids: What do you think causes the sauce to thicken? Explain that as the sauce continues to cook, more and more of the liquid changes into gas and evaporates into the air, which leaves less liquid behind. Tell kids that in cooking, this is called reducing or reduction. Reducing a sauce by cooking off extra liquid makes it thicker and concentrates its flavor, making it the perfect consistency for coating the shredded chicken in these tacos.
Take It Further
Language Arts (Speaking and Listening):
As you enjoy your tacos together, use the prompts below to help foster conversation around your table. As kids and other family members answer the questions, help them think through their thoughts and feelings about their answers and what has been said by others. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- If you could open your own taco truck or taquería, what would you call it? What kinds of tacos would be on the menu?
- What toppings did you put on your taco? What other toppings or sauces might taste good on a taco that you could include on your next taco night?
- Tacos originated in Mexico, but are now popular around the world. If you got a free plane ticket to visit anywhere in the world, where would you go? What would you be the most excited to eat once you got there?