Saturday, February 16, 2008

Mediterranean Chicken

For the past few years I have been trying to control our portion sizes. Although I am able to resign myself to consuming one portion (most of the time), Jack is a different story. He insists that portion sizes are too small and, for an active 6’4” man, perhaps they are. So the easiest thing for me to do is to make 3 servings of a recipe and give him 2 servings. I’ll scale back on this if it’s one of the infrequent higher-fat recipes which I try, but I don’t see the harm in giving him extra food. It also helps me as I don’t then have to hear him ask, after I place the plate on the table, “Is this it??? Is this all??? ”

Chicken breasts have been a problem with controlling portion sizes, though. I buy large bags of frozen chicken for everyday use and have seen the individual pieces steadily increase in size (per chicken breast) in the past 10 years or so. A few months ago, I noticed that the chicken breasts often weighed about 10 ounces for each half. A serving of protein is supposed to be around 4-5 ounces. I usually prepare 12 ounces for Jack and myself.

What the heck are they feeding chickens? Or have scientists been breeding progressively larger chickens every year? Growth hormones? I’d rather not think about that. Organic chicken is so expensive.

Recently I have been paying attention to the packages and counting how many breasts are in a bag. When I buy the bag with the most pieces, they will usually be around 6 ounces. Much easier to pull out and defrost rather than needing to cut one in half while still partially frozen, then placing the other half back in the freezer.

The smaller chicken breasts are a perfect size for those infrequent times which I prepare recipe which requires a cooking whole chicken breast halves.

I went into my archives and found one such recipe. As I recall, I made this frequently last autumn (while blatantly ignoring this blog) for a quick dinner. After trying to make the most of every minute of the quickly-fading daylight (and fast-cooling temperatures) by scrambling to get the outside wood trim on our house scraped of loose paint and then primed and topcoated, dinner became a hurriedly assembled meal around 8-9pm. This Mediterranean Chicken is perfect for those times when you want something easy and quick, but still lowfat and delicious. As the chicken is prepared, boil a pot of water and get the steamer out for sides of buttered orzo pasta and broccoli.

* Exported from MasterCook *

Mediterranean Chicken

Recipe By : Vicci

Servings: 2 Preparation Time :0:20

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method

---------- ---------- ----------------------------------------

12 ounces boneless skinless chicken breast -- (2 halves)

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 medium garlic clove -- crushed

8 ounces arrabbiata pasta sauce

1/4 cup kalamata olives -- coarsely chopped

2 ounces reduced-fat feta cheese

1 tablespoon chopped parsley

Carefully, using a sharp knife, cut each chicken breast lengthwise into 2 pieces (this is much easier if the chicken is partially frozen). Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Drizzle oil in a medium-sized nonstick pan and heat over medium heat. Add garlic and stir around in the oil with the spatula for 15 seconds; add chicken and sauté until golden on each side. Remove to a warm plate and cover with foil.

Place pan back on heat and add pasta sauce. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Turn off heat and stir in olives. Add chicken, turning to coat.

Spoon some sauce on the individual serving plates, lay chicken on sauce, spoon the rest of the sauce over top, crumble cheese over, and sprinkle with parsley.

Serve with buttered orzo and steamed broccoli.

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Per serving: 348 Calories (kcal); 16g Total Fat (3g saturated); (42% calories from fat); 45g Protein; 4g Carbohydrate; 109mg Cholesterol; 973mg Sodium

Food Exchanges: 0 Grain(Starch); 5 1/2 Lean Meat; 0 Vegetable; 0 Fruit; 2 Fat; 0 Other Carbohydrates

Note: Arrabbiata sauce (which, incidentally, means "angry mood" in Italian) is a spicy, tomato-based pasta sauce. A plain marinara can be substituted, adding crushed red pepper flakes to taste.


Nicolette (Nikki) Miller-Ka said...

During my meat fabrication class when I was in culinary school, we had these mutant chickens we were supposed to debone. The breasts were the size of my own. The legs were the size of turkey legs. We couldn't cut up the chickens for laughing so hard. We did eat good on those nights though...

Kitchen Queen Victoria said...

"Meat Fabrication Class" sounds a bit... intense... for me! ;) But I envy you for attending culinary school!