Tuesday, February 21, 2012
Carne, Vale! (and Chicken with Brussels Sprouts and Mustard Sauce)
Carne, vale! (For those of you who are rusty on the Latin, that means "goodbye, meat!")
Yes, once again, Jeff and I are going vegetarian for Lent. We tried this last year and it was very successful, so we're giving it another go. Unlike last year, when I was a bit skeptical of our ability to cook so many meatless meals (I remember compiling recipes in advance to see if we could make it), this year I've been looking forward to it. This past week I planned more meat-based meals than we'd had in months, to send it out in style, but the fact is that it doesn't appeal to me as much anymore. Besides having the confidence that we can cook delicious vegetarian meals for forty days, my priorities have shifted. Last year, I was primarily motivated by environmental concerns, as well as a vague sense that this would be a healthier choice. This year, health has become a primary factor. Meat made me sick four times between mid-October and New Years Eve, and now that I have to lower my cholesterol, I've been leaning away from it even more. A vegetarian diet is really best for me - lessening my impact on the environment is now just a bonus. I'm really looking forward to the next several weeks of plant-based eating.
That being said, we made a pretty delicious chicken dish yesterday - a great way to send meat out of our diets in style. This tender chicken is slathered in a cidery-mustard reduction, paired with luciously soft Brussels sprouts. I've always thought Brussels sprouts had a bit of a mustardy kick on their own, so they pair beautifully with the Dijon. I felt like a bit more of a kick would have really put this sauce over the top - next time we might throw in some red pepper flakes for a bit of heat, or perhaps cider vinegar for an acidic bite. But even without that extra something, I all but licked my plate clean.
What makes this a great go-to recipe is that, while it does take a bit of time, there seems to be a lot of down time. Jeff and I were in the kitchen together and there were several lulls where neither of us had anything to do. That leaves plenty of time to prepare another veggie side dish (or some flaky biscuits, if you're not watching your cholesterol!). Even though I won't be eating any meat for awhile, I plan on doing it again as soon as I can! There are still Brussels sprouts in April, right?
Chicken with Brussels Sprouts and Mustard Sauce (for two!)
From Cooking Light December 2011.
Preheat oven to 450°F.
Heat a cast-iron (or other ovenproof) skillet over high heat. Add 1/2 tbsp oil. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper, to taste, and place in the pan. Cook about 3 minutes until browned. Turn the chicken over. and then place the pan in the preheated oven for about 9 minutes, or until cooked through. Remove the chicken to a plate and cover with foil (or a pot lid) to keep warm.
Return the pan to the stove over medium-high heat. Add 1/4 c broth and cider and bring to a boil. Scrape the pan to loosen any browned bits. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer about 4 minutes, until thickened. Add mustard, 1/2 tbsp butter and parsley and whisk to blend well.
Meanwhile, heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tbsp oil and 1/2 tbsp butter to the pan. Add the Brussels sprouts and saute 2-3 minutes, until they begin to brown.
Salt the Brussels sprouts and add 1/2 c chicken broth to the pan. Then cover it and cook another 4 minutes, until tender. While the sprouts are finishing, return the chicken to the pan and coat it with the sauce. Serve the remaining sauce over the sprouts.