It is only fitting after yesterday’s post on animal protein that I write about my experience with chicken this week. Here’s a little back history…. I stopped eating meat exactly four years ago this month. I had just returned from two weeks in France where much of my time was spent eating steak, cheese, bread, nutella crepes and red wine. I came home to NY and put myself on a one week cleanse of raw fruits and vegetables to flush my body of the chaos. I don’t know what happened in that week, but when I went to eat meat again it made me nauseous and sick. I had thoroughly lost my taste for it. As each week went by, meat free, I began to feel lighter, more energized, my digestion was better and I felt significantly healthier. Four years later and I do not regret the dietary decisions I’ve made. If I really wanted it, I would have it. Which leads me to this week. Not once in four years have I craved red meat or pork, but for some reason in the past two months I haven’t stopped craving chicken. No, I’m not pregnant, and my protein intake isn’t lacking as I eat sufficient amounts of fish, beans, nuts, eggs etc… My body was apparently telling me something. I don’t know what it was, but I decided to give in and listen to it.
The thought of cooking chicken was daunting. A million things ran through my mind. Do I really want to do this? Is it going to make me sick? Is this a slippery slope towards other meats? I quieted my mind, trusted my body, and bought the two best boneless, skinless breasts I could find (organic, free-range, antibiotic-free, certified humane, you name it). Having not cooked meat in years, I busted out my favorite cookbooks for inspiration. I decided on a pretty innocuous recipe; a lightly breaded pan-cooked breast in a mustard sauce. My husband never thought I’d eat it all, but I cleaned my plate as if it were chocolate cake. Moral of the story: it was delicious, I didn’t die or get sick, and the craving is now gone. I’m not sure if chicken is going to become a regular part of my diet again. You definitely won’t find me devouring a plate of chicken wings at a seedy sports bar, but I do know this, if I really want it and it’s high quality, then I will have it…and apparently enjoy it.
Chicken Breasts with Mustard Sauce
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Cookbook: Eat Well
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1 ½ cups whole-wheat bread crumbs (or panko)
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup dry white wine
- 1 tablespoon honey
- ½ chicken or vegetable broth
- 2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard
- Salt and pepper, to taste
Pound chicken to an even thickness (about ¾ inch), sprinkle with salt and pepper, and dredge into bread crumbs to coat well. Heat oil in a large nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat, add chicken, and reduce heat to medium. Cook, turning once, until browned and cooked through, 4-5 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate and cover with foil. Add wine, broth, and honey to the pan. Bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits from pan bottom. Boil to reduce sauce to about ½ cup, about 3-4 minutes. Stir in mustard and season to taste with salt and pepper. Spoon sauce over chicken and serve immediately. (I served it with wild brown rice and roasted asparagus.)