“So, what do you feel like for lunch?”
“Something healthy and tasty” [bearing in mind he is not actually doing any of the cooking]
“…Okaaaaay, like what?”
“I want some breasts”
“Four chicken breasts”
“Ok, four Chicken breasts and…”
“More chicken breasts” [said with a distinct ‘are-you-really-asking-me-this-question’ kind of tone]
I would be lying to you if I pretended that this is an unusual conversation for me to be a part of. In fact, this gives you a general idea of a relatively routine conversation that happens all too often between the hulk and me. Borderline socially inappropriate innuendos aside, Free Range chicken breasts really are one of the healthiest, leanest animal based protein (boet) sources to include in your diet; even if you are a normal person without an appetite like a black hole, and you only eat one chicken breast per meal.
However, as much as ‘chicken breasts and more chicken breasts’ are a great choice of protein to have either at lunch or at dinner, they can get pretty boring. If they are cooked incorrectly they also tend to lean a bit more towards ‘thick cardboard’ and a little bit less towards ‘finger licking good’ on the taste spectrum. Stuffing the chicken breasts and baking them in the oven is a nifty, healthy way of beating the cardboard effect and adding extra flavor and deliciousness to your meal. The best part? They taste just as good hot as they do cold and tossed into a salad.
4-8 Free Range Chicken Breasts: Usually 1-2 per person, unless you are feeing Marvel characters in which case you may have to adjust accordingly. You can safely squeeze about 8 on a standard baking tray or rectangular oven-roasting dish.
Pitted Olives unless you feel like cutting the pips out of every single olive you use, ha, not.
Sundried Tomatoes – not the ones that come soaked in oil.
*This is the part where you can get really creative with the ingredients and some other great options are goat cheese and beetroot; baby spinach, pesto and Parmesan or bacon, rosa tomato and mozzarella. The more creative, the less boring, and as in most life situations not boring is usually preferable.
How to make ‘I’m Stuffed’ Chicken Breasts happen
Preheat the oven to 200 using the bake setting.
Prepare a baking tray with some Spray and Cook, or if you are super lazy and hate washing dishes then a handy trick is lining the baking tray or roasting dish with some baking paper.
1. Fillet the chicken breasts. Don’t panic, this is not nearly as hard or as fancy as it might seem. You will need a sharp knife, and some balls to just go for it. Put the chicken breast on a chopping board, place your non-cutting hand gently on top of it, and cut through it as if you were cutting a bread roll. The most important part of this is to leave about a 2cm at the edge that you won’t cut through, so that you can fold it back over once it is stuffed
2. If you stuff this up (ha, pun) don’t worry. This is why toothpicks were invented.
3. Now for the filling: In this case chopping things up is not an option, the smaller you chop everything the easier it will be to manage. So, chop everything up, crumble the feta and mix it all together in a bowl.
4. Using a tablespoon place one spoon of mixture on one half of the chicken breast and fold the other part of chicken -the smaller flappy part- over the stuffing. You know those times when you first got to make your own rolls, and you just got way too ambitious and excited and ended up with too much filling in your sandwich roll? This is a bit like that, just back yourself and squish it a bit… it will work.
5. Put the chicken breasts on the prepared baking tray. Drizzle a little bit of olive oil over the top of them, season with salt and pepper and sprinkle on some extra flavor using some herbs and spices. NoMU is one of my favourite brands to cook with, and I absolutely love their spice range. NoMU’s “One for all Rub” finds its way into most of my dishes because it literally adds the most amazing flavor to anything and everything, while NoMu’s “Poultry Rub” is a guaranteed win for any chicken dish.
6. Cover the baking tray or oven-roasting dish with tin foil (shiny side down) and place in the oven for 15 minutes. After this, take the dish out, take off the tin foil, change the oven setting to grill and put it back in. The rest of the time it takes to cook will depend on your oven but you are looking at anywhere between 5 and 10/15 minutes so keep checking.
7. If you want to feel like you are running the kitchen rather than it running you, use the time that the chicken cooks to make the green part of your meal a little bit more festive.
8. The green part
8.1) Iceberg lettuce is just the tip of salad base iceberg (ha- see what I did there? Too much, maybe?). Shops like Woolies, PnP and Checkers all have mixed bags of lettuce – and these are my favourite options when making a salad because they offer so much variety. In this case I decided to make my own mixture, so I used some non-iceberg lettuce (to me it is either iceberg lettuce or non-iceberg lettuce), baby cabbage (crunch baby crunch), chives and rocket
Add some colour
Carrots are always a win. A certain friend of mine who reads this blog loves them so much they were mentioned in her 21st speech (hashtag just saying). If carrots don’t make you this excited and you feel like you want to liven them up, try using a vegetable peeler – it will give you lovely thin ribbons and make your salad look fancy pants.
And some healthy fats
Avocado. I don’t feel that I need to write much more of an explanation than that.
I can’t tell you why, but I have to chop all my salad ingredients up in order to put them in the bowl and people who just tear the lettuce leaves up really freak me out. So if you are mildly cooked, like me, chop all your ingredients up, if not just throw them in the bowl and watch the world burn.
9. If you think the chicken is done, take it out and cut one of the breasts in half. If its not done pop it back in the oven. If it is, then slice the rest of the tester breast and all the other ones for serving to hide the fact that you, like me, are not really sure what you’re doing. You can choose whether you want to put the chicken in the salad directly, or serve the salad on the side.
10. For a delicious salad dressing mix olive oil, apple cider vinegar,1 tsp Dijon mustard and some more NoMu spice deliciousness and whisk it all together with a fork (if you are really fancy and have a mini whisk then use that, and know that I am jealous of you).
As my Dad would say at this point “Born up a tree” and enjoy.