Sometimes I just want a bowl of raw, fresh greens. It happens either when it’s warm out or just as a simple craving (remnants from my vegetarian past maybe), but this time it was a real need. Too much wheat in the week naturally leads me to a bowl of the opposite. There goes the wisdom of the body seeking balance on its own!
The grilled chicken breast has its own story.
This chicken lived a good life. It roamed around freely and ate worms, insects and grass and all the other things chickens eat. It hung out in the sun and got its feathers ruffled by the wind. It chased other chickens and got chased a bit, too. It was a happy chicken. The farmers who send us our CSA shipments seem like very happy farmers who love their jobs and their animals. So, when we get our whole chicken delivered, breaking it down is the next step and we feel like we’re participating in this whole, loving process of getting our food from the farm to our table.
(In lieu of a video of me breaking down a chicken, (I’m quite good at it, but sorry, no time to get to this step!), check out this link which I think does a great job of simplifying what may seem like a daunting task.)
Anyway, our happy chicken comes with great health benefits and is SO MUCH tastier than any conventional chicken. Pastured* organic chickens are leaner which means lower in fat. Because they grazed on greens, they and their eggs are loaded with Omega 3s, Vitamins A and E as compared to their caged, warehoused counterparts. They are also free of antibiotics, which is no small thing! No antibiotics means they weren’t sick to begin with! Not to mention they are free of pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides. It’s nice to eat poison-free food! It also wasn’t artificially fattened. As a result, this chicken looks and tastes different. Even the breasts are juicy and tender, which is a bonus for me since I’m not a fan of white meat. (I know it’s bizarre that I prefer dark meat and red meat…I have no logical explanation.)
For the Chicken:
2 split chicken breasts
1 T olive oil
1 t Herbs de Provence
Juice of 1 lemon
1/4 C golden balsamic vinegar
1/4 C extra virgin olive oil
1 T dijon mustard
1 t maple syrup
Sea salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Baby greens or romaine lettuce
1 mango, diced
1/2 C candied pecans, chopped
1/4 C sunflower seeds, toasted
1. Wash and dry chicken breasts, then generously season with salt. Add lemon juice and olive oil and lastly the Herbs de Provence. Let sit for at least an hour in the fridge.
2. Heat a stove-top grill (or a real one, by all means!) over med-high heat. Take chicken out and let sit at room temp for about 10 minutes before grilling. You’ll have to be the judge on time since there are so many X factors, but I grilled for about 12 minutes on one side, then about 10 on the other. (These chicken breasts also needed a bit of grill time on their sides which they got for a few minutes each.) Internal temps should be 165 degrees.
3. When done, cut chicken into strips and set aside.
1. Whisk all ingredients together until emulsified. Taste test with a bit of lettuce/greens and adjust accordingly. A bit of lemon juice may round things out a bit if you’re not sure what it needs.
2. Just before assembling salad, dress the greens in dressing reserving some for chicken at the end.
Get your salad on:
1. With dressed greens in bowls, top with mango, pecans and sunflower seeds. Lastly, top with chicken and IF you think it needs it, add more dressing.
*A quick word on free-range vs. pastured chickens. Unfortunately the regulations are loose and therefore the definitions are, too. A free-range chicken can mean that the chicken saw a few minutes of daylight on a concrete slab before heading back into a crowded warehouse. Pastured means the chickens at least got access to grass and natural, wild food. It’s tough to tell what’s best by the labels. My two cents is, if possible, get your animal protein directly from a reputable farm. For more info, http://www.motherearthnews.com/Relish/Free-Range-Versus-Pastured-Chicken-And-Eggs.aspx