Sunday, August 27, 2006

Easy Lemon Chicken

Friday night I made Faye's "Easy Lemon Chicken". My technical writing students have already learned to snicker at use of the word "easy" in technical writing. It's a big no-no. Why? Well 1) What's "easy" to you may not be "easy" to your user, and 2)It just doesn't add anything.

I'm pretty skeptical of recipes that include words like "easy", "faultless", "perfect", or "impossible" in their title. What can these words mean? Not much really but they do tempt you as the makers of yogurt have discovered. Local options include "perky peach", "naughty strawberry" and such.

Easy Lemon Chicken was in fact pretty easy. It was even easier the way I made it, without all the transfers Faye suggested. Being raised on a healthy stir-fry diet, I am confused by instructions that tell me to remove ingredients (sauteed onions, say) that will only be returned to the same pan later. I tried to obey for the sake of learning and recipe fidelity but I just couldn't bring myself to do all of them.

For me the barrier to "easy" was in cooking chicken in the first place. I have been a vegetarian for more than a decade. A few factors caused me to reconsider, tentatively.

1) With pregnancy, my tastes have changed. The idea of meat is occasionally appealing to me.
I was worried also at first that there was also some truth in people's concerned cries that I "must" eat meat during pregnancy in order to get enough protein. Not really. Turns out a couple glasses of skim milk take care of your daily needs rather nicely. Add some ice cream, a serving of yogurt or cottage cheese and boom, I'm easily surpassing my daily needs.

2) After we got married, I decided that Adi deserved more meat in the home. When I was single I kept kashrut wonderfully simple by maintaining a meat-free home. When Adi started living with me, meat made some slow invasions. First, I accepted cold cuts, consumed on designated plates. Then I actually bought him some frozen shnitzel which he could heat himself in the toaster oven and eat on same designated plates with designated silverware.
He valiantly respected my rules, despite strident secular protests.

But after our wedding, I vowed to set up my kitchen to accommodate cooking some meat dishes too. I had to do some soul-searching to decide if I really care about maintaining different dishes because it is rather a pain in the tuchus. But I decided that I didn't come all the way here on aliya just to eat treyf in my own home.
So I haven't totally got the separation thing down in a way that would satisfy the most strict... but we basically have a separation.

OK, so I'm making some meat and even eating some too. But I couldn't quite face chicken parts as the recipe called for. I stuck to cutlets. Yes, it's kind of cheating, it's that whole thing about meat not looking like the animal it came from. So be it for now.

To make up for the lack of skin and bones, I added some bread crumbs to make it a bit more interesting. That plus onions, some lemon, broth (example: soup mix), and a couple of disappointing olives thrown in and voila, easy lemon chicken, vaguely North African in style. I thought it was kind of boring. Next time I would avoid pre-boiling the lemons. I would have enjoyed more of their tart flavor coming through.

Adi was visibly psyched when I handed him his plate. So even though I was only able to eat one piece and felt a little funny about it afterwards, it was totally worth it. We rounded out our meal with a tasty impromptu creation of my own.

While cooking I asked Adi if he'd like pasta or sweet potatoes on the side.

"Pasta with sweet potatoes!" he exclaimed cheekily. He got what he asked for. To fusilli I added some sweet potatoes I'd parboiled then cut up and sauteed with onion & fresh rosemary. Yum.

Reminds me of a great New Yorker cartoon. A piece of rigatoni with legs, arms and a face (obviously) is standing at the phone saying,
"Fusilli, you crazy bastard, how are you?"


Anonymous said...

Hey lady - I totally understand your meat predicament and am supporting your efforts! Plus I'm happy to hear about all your new dishes. I'm sticking to the basics here, due to serious time constraints, but made a delish chard/tofu stir fry the other night with chard fresh from my mom's garden, crumbled firm tofu, a dash of rice wine vinegar, toasted sesame oil and black sesame seeds, yummy! And homemade granola - which by the way is also a good way to get that extra protein; packed full of nuts and seeds, add a bit of plain yogurt and bit of good - I could write you about food all day long! Harmony

Anonymous said...

3rd try. I keep erasing my comments. Your cooking sounds fun and delicious. My daughter (your contemporary) has been vegetarian since age 11. She will occasionally (every year or so) have a bite from my plate of some highly praised, oohed and ahhed, kosher and/or organic steak. She wants to keep her GI system able to accept the stuff. Besides which, she says she's always liked the taste, but the familiar creatureness of mammals was too liker her nursing mother, and fowl.. well we raised friendly chickens (for eggs). Do what seems well...seemly. Here's some unsolicited advise. You probably need more iron now and when (if) you nurse Get it from eggs among other things (if meat is out). love from ccjane

Katus said...

Chicken is one of the more anatomically correct (and grosser for the squeamish) meat choices. I understand why you went with cutlets, but breast meat has no flavor. If you want to disassociate yourself from the source of the meat, at least for now, then there's nothing like ground beef -- or even yummier, if you like strong tastes, ground lamb -- made into innocuous and all-American hamburgers (or lamburgers). Takes 10 minutes to fry in a pan, and you can tuck them in a bun with healthy green things like lettuce or sprouts.