Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Brian's better than BBQ chicken

i've received a handful of inquiries regarding our preparation of simple, healthy food.  i convinced my husband, the head chef here at our homestead, to let me follow him around the kitchen and let you in on some of his favorite foods and methods.
i thought i'd start with one of the staples of our meals: chicken. let me just say this...we believe in meat. it is a healthy source of protein and calories...both of which you NEED to build muscle!!  especially chicken and fish. consistently, we have a salad with chicken for lunch.  the additional ingredients vary from day to day, depending on what we've got on hand, but the chicken is our key ingredient.
here in Montana in the winter, it is just way too cold to stand outside and BBQ... so Brian pan fries it inside in a cast iron skillet.  here's how:

one.  start with boneless, skinless chicken breasts and/or thighs.  rinse it and pat dry with a paper towel
two. get your pan nice and hot.  we use olive oil, always. it's very important to heat your pan with the oil in it before you put the chicken in.  you want it to really sizzle as soon as it hits the pan, otherwise the meat just sits in the oil and absorbs it.
three. while you're waiting for the pan and oil to heat up, season your chicken. Brian uses salt, pepper and a combo of whatever else he feels like at the moment. (in this case he used chili pepper flakes, smoked paprika, salt and pepper, and italian seasoning.)

four. place the chicken in the hot pan, seasoned side down.
five.  season the other side of the chicken that is now facing you.
six.   seasoning for today

seven. once the chicken is all seasoned,
eight.  cover with a loose fitting lid.  Brian says: "you want to keep the bulk of the heat in, but also let out some of the steam".
nine. let the chicken cook for 6-7 minutes on one side, then turn and cook for 6-7 minutes on the other side.  then, just turn as needed until it's cooked all the way through.

ten. total cooking time is approximately 20 minutes
eleven.  arrange your choice of leafy green lettuce in bowls. we used spinach. we go through a big bag (from Costco) every week.
twelve. yummy!! in this salad Brian tossed in yellow and red bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, feta cheese, red onion, dried cranberries, slivered almonds and our delicious better-than-bbq-chicken

as for dressing... we steer clear of store bought varieties.  Brian prefers a splash each of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. i prefer a dressing i've been making for 15 years! some girlfriends and i used to take cooking classes from a wonderful chef in OC, Tarla, and i still use a variation of her salad dressing recipe today. (along with her recipe for cranberry-macadamia-nut- chutney every Thanksgiving!)

i use one of those glass carafes that comes with the little italian seasoning packets at the grocery store. ( i do not use the packet) it's handy because of the markings on it...
i pour in balsamic vinegar to the V-line
then i add water up to the W-line
pour in olive oil to the O-line
then i add salt, pepper, a squirt of honey and 1 teaspoon of brown mustard
shake it well
and voila! thing that has really helped us continue to eat healthy is cooking up a big batch of this chicken and keeping it in the fridge. rather than just cooking what we need for one meal, Brian will cook up several packages at once. that way, we've got it on hand for salads for a few days.

Choose Wisely and Eat Well!!!

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