Total calories (approx): 690 (how calories are calculated)  Note this is a ‘large’ portion.
Time needed: 15-20 minutes in the morning
Type: Chicken, for the bento novice
This is presented as an idea for a bento that doesn’t look like a bento, for people with hearty appetites who can’t get their heads around the smallness of a bento box and how it could possibly ‘be enough’. It’s supposed to ressemble a buffalo chicken wing meal, but has cut down on the fat and calories of a real buffalo chicken spread considerably, in this way:
It looks like a lot of food, simply because it’s divided up into 4 Lock & Lock-type containers (the chicken one is a similar container - I ran out of Lock & Locks). It’s carried to work in a stack, held together in a plastic bag (nothing too girly) and dumped in a backpack.
The chicken wings are actually leftovers from the night before; I just heated them up briefly in the morning and cooled them down again (this is for safety’s sake). The sweet potato chips were parboiled, then baked in a toaster oven for 10 minutes, but you could make them the night before too. The sauce is mixed together in minutes, and the vegetables can be cut up and stored in ziplock bags.
To make this a lower-calorie bento, just reduce the chicken wings to 4 (-130 calories), reduce the sauce to half (-70 calories), or both.
Here are the very simple recipes for the chicken, potatoes and yogurt-cheese dip. I’ve presented them all together since they belong together, though of course you could use them individually.
To make 24 wing sections (not whole wings)
Preheat the oven to 200°C / 400°F.
Cut the wings apart by the joints. Save the tips for soup stock.
Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and leave for a few minutes on paper towels. Pat dry. (This makes the skins bake up a bit crispier).
Put the wing parts in a plastic bag. Add the Tabasco and Worcestershire, and shake around well.
Put in one layer on a baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, turn and bake for another 10 minutes.
This keeps in the refrigerator for a 2-3 days, or you can freeze it and defrost it in the microwave or overnight in the refrigerator. Heat through briefly in a toaster oven or in a dry non-stick frying pan to revive some of its crispiness.
Per serving; double, triple etc. for more.
Peel and cut up the sweet potato. Put in a pan with cold water to cover, and bring up to a boil. Boil for about 5 minutes, until the slices are cooked but still firm. Drain well. You can do this part in advance.
Line a toaster oven tray with aluminum foil.
Toss the potato slices in the olive oil and garlic, or the garlic infused oil. Lightly salt and pepper. Bake in a toaster oven at 200°C / 400°F or the highest setting for about 10 minutes, turning once if you want them evenly browned. (The ones in the picture are a bit under-browned, but were still eaten up eagerly.)
This is a replacement for the rich blue cheese dressing that is normally used for buffalo chicken wings.
To make 1 cup of sauce (I used 1/2 cup for the bento above)
Mix it all together. It keeps for a couple of days in the refrigerator.
I haven’t posted a timeline for a bento in a while - mainly because I felt I was repeating myself a bit. But here it makes its return! As you can see, a lot of the components are made ahead, which allows for easy and quick assembly in the morning. (The most no-additional-work way to make this bento is to have chicken wings and sweet potato for dinner the night before.)
Note that the yogurt sauce could be made the night before too, but it does develop a stronger cheesy flavor as time passes.
Click on the timeline image for a bigger view.
(Sorry about the subpar quality of the photo…I didn’t have the time to take a picture in the morning, so this is a mid-dark-winter-afternoon cellphone pic!)