We all get stuck in a food rut … you know - that repetitive, relentless, unimaginative, never ending cycle of meat and three veg, mums beef stew, meat and three veg, mums chicken pie, meat and three veg, spaghetti Bolognese, meat and three veg … sound familiar!
If you recognise this menu, or identify with something similar, I hate to say it, you’re in a food rut! This may be the result of long days at work, lack of inspiration, time poor, cash poor, or like my sister Grace, can’t cook! All good stories, and what we cooks call ‘an excuse’! So, snap out of it, and start to live on the wild side!
Ever heard the saying ‘variety is the spice of life’, OR ‘a change is as good as a holiday’! Our bodies love variety, and need a diverse, healthy diet to survive and thrive. The best way to a healthy diet is to eat food from each section of the food pyramid – follow the link below for the Australian guide to healthy eating.
I’m a food enthusiast and LOVE trying new food combinations. I’m constantly assessing my family’s diet and introducing new recipes and menus. It’s true, we’re very healthy eaters, but there’s always room for improvement.
So … it recently occurred to me, lentils don’t play a big enough role in our diet. So … let me introduce you to my beautiful braised lentils with chicken maryland! It’s healthy, cheap, delicious, and a proven hit amongst the taste testers - a.k.a. my sisters and mother. So impressed with this dish, I switched my family to lentil lovers in one sitting!
It’s common knowledge we don’t like cooking with foods that are unfamiliar. Perhaps because we don’t know how, we’ve already decided we don’t like it, or we simply can’t be bothered. Whatever our excuse, we must face our fear of foreign food, and open the door to a diverse diet. Our bodies will thank us, as well as the farmers who provide these wonderful foods. And, without trying to address too many topics, it’s worth noting that a diverse diet creates a more sustainable food system! But that’s a story for another time. For now, eat your lentils!
4 x chicken marylands, skin on
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 leek, finely chopped
1 brown onion, finely chopped
2 carrots, finely chopped
300g button mushrooms, finely chopped
1 cup French green lentils (puy lentils), rinsed
1 L (4 cups) homemade chicken stock or good quality vegetable stock
3 fresh bay leaves
6 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bunch Tuscan cabbage, sliced into 1cm ribbons
1 tin (375 ml) light carnation milk
Heat oil in a heavy based casserole dish over medium heat. Add leek, onion and carrot. Cook, stirring, for 6 minutes or until softened. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring, for 4 minutes or until softened. Add lentils. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute to coat.
Take the chicken out of the fridge to come to room temperature.
Add stock, bay leaves and thyme. Simmer, partially covered, stirring occasionally, for 28-30 minutes or until just tender.
Meanwhile, season the chicken with sea salt and cracked pepper. Heat a large fry pan to a high heat. Add the chicken, skin side down and cook for 4 minutes or until golden. Turn and cook on the remaining side for 3 minutes.
When the lentils are cooked through, remove the thyme stalks and bay leaves. Add Tuscan cabbage. Place the lid for 3 minutes to wilt the cabbage, remove the lid and fold the cabbage through the lentils.
Stir in ¾ of the carnation milk. Season. Place the chicken pieces, evenly, on top of the lentils. Place the lid on and cook for a further 10 minutes or until the chicken has cooked through. Serve.