So far, the menu this week has been 50/50 in terms of success. On Sunday night I attempted to broil a top sirloin steak. I overcooked it; I now know it would’ve been done perfectly in six minutes (when I originally removed it from the oven.) I second-guessed myself and put it back in for two more minutes. Damn. There are few things in the foodie world I dislike more than overcooked steak. Although the marinade flavors were successful, I was in a pissy mood because of the chewiness. This is why our landlords should re-consider the “no grill” policy. Red meat is impossible indoors. For me, anyway. If you have any pointers … please, enlighten me.
On the other hand, I’ve gotten the hang of cooking chicken to the proper done-ness. Side note: I was reading up on some paleo stuff and came across a woman who claims she’s been eating raw chicken for 15 years. WHAT?! If I was on Fear Factor, I want her on my team.
I digress – back to properly cooking chicken. These steps work for me every time:
1. Marinate chicken for 2-24 hours depending on how much acidity is in your marinade. The more acidity like lemon or vinegar, the less time it should marinate. Nothing dangerous about it, but the acidity will begin to turn the meat white (i.e. begin to breakdown the meat and basically cook it.)
2. Make sure your skillet and oil is nice and hot (medium-high heat); pre-paleo life, vegetable oil is the best (or a combination of butter and olive oil is okay too.) Olive oil alone will turn bitter at high temperatures. I haven’t picked up a vegetable oil substitute yet so I had to use straight olive oil last night. Oh well.
3. Drip off excess liquid (if you did a wet marinade) and sear chicken breasts for 2 minutes on each side, or until you get a nice golden crust. If the chicken is too wet, or if you over-crowd the pan, your chicken will steam instead of sear, leaving a white outer appearance instead of brown. Technically, this step is just for presentation. If you don’t care about the golden brown appearance, then you can squeeze all your chicken into the pan at once, flipping at the 2 minute mark.
4. After 2 minutes per side, pour the marinade in the hot skillet over the chicken and simmer for 12-15 minutes or until chicken reaches 170 degrees and juices run clear. I often bake mine at this point instead of simmer, to free up the only large burner we have on the stove top. To bake just make sure your skillet is oven-safe or transfer to a baking dish and bake at 375 degrees for 25-28 minutes. The chicken stays soooo juicy and flavorful by actually cooking in the marinade.
I used the simmer method to cook up some coconut curry chicken last night. The recipe is yummy paleo-friendly find.
I didn’t have any canned coconut milk so I used some refrigerated coconut milk from a carton. Next time, I’ll make the effort to get the canned stuff, but I’m all about using up ingredients we already have! I specifically wanted a recipe that used green onions and cilantro because I got a wild hair and bought a bunch of produce/herbs at the local farmers market up the road over the weekend. I don’t typically cook with green onions, but seems like everyone else does here! Must be the Asian influence.
What on earth did I do with all those greens? Put them in a blender of course! I blended 10 cups of spinach with 2 1/2 cups of water and then froze the mixture in ice cube trays to pop in smoothies. The best part is that one of the bags of greens is $1 and it has ten cups of greens. That’s unheard of. I’ll take 6 bags: 3 arugula, 3 spinach. Amazing!
Paleo eating is going better than I expected so far – my body feels great, but I’m still fighting my deep dark cravings for yogurt, cheese, milk, coffee, tortilla chips, and Nutella. I can only eat so many raw almonds. I feel desperate for some good paleo snack ideas that aren’t nuts or fresh fruit. Preferably something that tastes like Cinnamon Toast Crunch…