Monday, April 7, 2014

Grilled and Filled Chicken Breast with Baked Sweet Potato and Haricot Vert

The day is finally here.  Welcome to Chiro Kitchen!  This has been a works in progress for the last year or so.  If you get the Kehoe Family Chiropractic monthy newsletter, you will know that it already contains a monthly recipe.  Although the recipes are well received, I feel limited by the space.  This food blog allows me to expand on the  preparation of each dish and the careful consideration of nutritionally sound ingredient selection. The last year  I have been busy, adapting recipes and taking pictures of food like I am the paparazzi at a big Hollywood event.  I didn’t even have to ask the cheese to smile. 

The content of my blog is ready to go but I am still challenged by the technology of it all.  Over the next few months I will be linking the recipes from my Chiropractic website to Chiro Kitchen.  I will also be converting those recipes over to a more esthetically appealing and user friendly format for you to print, share or save as you wish.  I am hoping to achieve a feeling that you are in my kitchen watching me prepare the food for you.  Let’s begin. 

A little on my cooking style.  I am not a recipe person.  I think this may drive some of you crazy.  I really don’t measure.  Even when I bake, I have done it for so long I rarely pull out my measuring spoons.  ( that explains those “unique tasting batch of cookies) So please bare with me.  I will try to add measuring equivalents ( teaspoon-ish) to my recipes but they may require some tweaking.  I really think, a teaspoon of one spice may be too much for one, while not enough for another.  Cooking is an art as much as it is a science.  So, although you need a certain amount of sea salt, let’s say, to bring out the flavors in one dish.  The beauty of a dish, is in the taste buds of the beholder.  Don’t be afraid to get a little spicy at times.  Now baking is more of an exact science, so I will not let you astray here. 

Tonight’s dinner is Grilled and Filled Chicken Breast with a baked sweet potato and Haricot Vert.  ( that is the fancy French way of saying green beans.)

I’d like to explain a little about  my grilling method.  I use charcoal.  I feel a gas grill doesn’t impart the same grill’n flavor as good ol’ charcoal.  I mean the entire reason you grill is to achieve that smokey taste and aroma.  Cooking your meat over an open gas flame just won’t do it justice.  That being said, I make sure I use natural charcoal briquettes.  I do not want my charcoal treated with chemicals, because as they burn under my food, guess where that  goes?  (Steak with a side of lighter fluid- No thanks!)  Chemically treated charcoal is full of VOCs and I don’t want that in my food. 
My webber grill has an automatic starter, which makes it nice and easy to get my coals going.   But if you don’t have an auto starter, I suggest you get yourself one of these. 

Charcoal Starter

A charcoal starter.  It requires a few pieces of newspaper, a flame to light the paper and charcoal.  This thing will get your coals piping hot and ready for grill’n. 

Okay let’s get back to the menu.  Turn your oven on to 350 and wrap a few sweet potatoes in foil or parchment paper and toss on a cookie sheet and place in the oven.  At this temperature, depending on the size of your tater, it will take about 45 min. You can cut the sweet taters in half to cut down on cooking time. 

Next, I take two boneless, skinless naturally raised, preferably organic chicken breasts.  I butterfly them open, which is essentially slicing them in the middle, so you have a top and a bottom that are about equal thickness, leaving one side slightly attached.  I lightly oil the chicken with either coconut oil or grape seed oil. (more on this at a later date)  I season the chicken with Himalayan sea salt and a light dusting of garlic and onion powder.  Once the coals are hot and still smoking pretty good , I oil the grill racks with some of the same oil to prevent sticking and lay my chicken breasts on the grill. I close the lid to keep in that smokey goodness.  The idea is to get the chicken partially cooked but really smokey.  So I usually go really light on the amount of charcoals I use to cut down on the heat.  Sometimes I even throw a few wood chips on the coals to get a little more smoke going. 

Once the chicken has been cooked on both sides I remove them from the grill.  With the breasts open I add sliced sundried tomatoes, fresh basil and some mozzarella cheese on the bottom side.  I fold the breast closed like a book, sandwiching the goods inside. If you have a large toothpick or a wooden skewer you can stick that in the middle, to make sure the breasts stay closed while they are baking in the oven.  I bake at 350 for about 15 minutes in a covered glass or ceramic dish.  Remember the chicken has already been partially cooked on the grill. You want to get it the rest of the way and melt the cheese on the inside.  If you want you can check the temperature of the chicken using a thermometer.  Internally temperature at the thickest part should be 165.  Depending on your timing, your sweet potatoes should be close to being done.  Poke them with a fork to check.  They should be soft, not mushy or firm. Remember they will still continue cooking a bit if you delay removing them from their wrapper. 

Grilled Chicken Breasts

Filling Chicken Breasts

My basil plant died in the cold snap, so I used dried basil.

Ready for oven heat

While the chicken and potatoes are cooking, I clean and cut my green beans in half.  I add them to my cast iron pan with some grape seed or coconut oil heated to high temperature.  They should “tssss” at you when you toss them in.  Season with sea salt and saute until the bean skins are getting a little brown in color.  Now add some water. About a ½ cup will do.  Cook off the water.  Add more if the green beans are still a little firm.  Cook until the desired softness.   I find kids like them a little softer than adults because they are easier to chew and they are sweeter.  (cooking brings our their natural sugars)
Grilled and Filled Chicken Breast with Baked Sweet Potato and Haricot Vert

Once everything is cooked. Plate and serve.  If you are like me, sometimes everything is not done at the same time.  No problems.  The chicken can be left in the oven with the oven off if the green beans are not done.  Or if the opposite is true, turn off beans and cover until chicken or potatoes are done. 

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