One of the biggest - and possibly the lamest - reasons for why I rarely eat meat is that I don't really know what to do with it. It seems that in order to get it to taste like anything, you always need to go that extra mile and know that special trick before you get anything even half decent out of it, and even then, it's mostly just so-so. It just doesn't seem worth the time, the money (!) or the effort.
But then there are times when I do try because, let's face it, there's still a little carnivore screaming inside of me, and since I have few ideological reasons to stand up to that whiny brat, occasionally I give in. Usually in the form of chicken.
Now, chicken has always been problematic to me. I hate, hate
I tell you, the ready-marinaded chicken bits that they sell in the stores. They taste like plastic and manure. So, I always buy unseasoned, skinless breast fillets that I then either use as is or cut into thin slices to use in a wok (that's a good thing, by the way, because even though it takes a bit more time, you get those wonderfully thin, quick-to-fry slices like in the Chinese restaurants). And I always
end up with tasteless, dry/chewy, not-so-satisfying excuses for chicken, no matter how much marinating I do. Life's a bitch, right?
Except not this time. This long yarn was a prelude to explain why exactly I am now so incredibly pleased with myself as I write this post. Because I really am enthralled by how well this recipe turned out. I had previously heard, and then tried, this thing called brining
- soaking your meat in salt-water solution for a few hours, basically - that is supposed to make the meat more tender. And it does as promised. I've tried it before. But. The problem is that even with brining, I haven't been able to add any taste to the meat.
This time, though, I found the perfect recipe. It was moist. It was flavourful. For the first time since those lime-cinnamon-cumin lamb chops
, meat felt like worth the effort. And what effort? No effort! This took a minute to get into the salt-water solution and into the fridge to wait until I go about my daily business, then five minutes to get into the oven. Simple. The technique puts the seasoning right in the middle
of the meat, and so it gets to really soak in instead of just flopping about on top. I nicked this idea from a magazine (Hyvä Terveys: Kevyt Kokki
, Spring 2008) but varied it a bit.
Chicken Pockets with Cream Cheese Filling
Time: 5 minutes preparation (+3hr optional brining) & 20 minutes cooking
makes enough for two
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Since I am a good girl and aware of healthy things, I can't live on meat alone. Therefore, there needed to be some colourful veggies (you know vegetables, right? those thingies that they try to give you instead of fries at McDonald's?). Now, this recipe comes from a Swedish television cook called Tina... Something. Um. Sorry, Tina, you're a lovely woman but I can't remember your surname for the life of me. I was watching her show yesterday while eating lunch, and she was preparing all-vegetarian meals (remarkable for a TV cook who isn't a vegetarian herself, I might add). She then made this very simple, warm salad that I just had to try immediately because who has ever heard of combining apples with broccoli and then frying them? Not me! ...You have probably, but I am ignorant of such things so let me pretend for a while that it was something uniquely brilliant. New or old, it still worked, it was quick, and it was tasty. I recommend.
Tina's Warm Broccoli-Apple Salad
one small red onion
a dash of oil for frying
salt and pepper to taste
Cut the veggies, the broccoli into bite-sized bits, the apple and onion you can cut lenght-wise into "boats", it just gives a nice body to the salad.
Heat oil over medium heat in a large frying pan or wok, add broccoli and season with salt and pepper. Fry for a couple of minutes. Add onion, fry a minute more, then add apple. Fry for a few minutes until the salad is heated through, the onion is tender and the broccoli is done but still crunchy. Serve immediately while still warm.