I am a recovering vegetarian.
When I announced my intention to renounce meat at age 17, my Midwestern mother was horrified. She promptly whisked me to my doctor, apparently in hope that she would convince me that my alternative lifestyle was an unhealthy one. Instead, my doctor lauded my ideals and convictions. Score one for me.
I lived happily as a vegetarian. I ate veggie burgers at barbeques. I ate salads at steak houses. I almost didn’t eat at all when my husband and I honeymooned in Morocco. But it didn’t bother me.
But my whole vegetarian world began to unravel when I became pregnant with triplets. Ideals be damned. I was ravenous.
I started eating chicken, rationalizing that at least I wasn't eating "meat." My husband grilled the chicken outside (so the house remained a meat-free zone) and made a bunch of it. I munched on it all day in shame. I started to get bored with my options. But I held out. I was a vegetarian. The chicken was for the babies, I told myself.
By about my fourth month, I was informed that I had become severely anemic. My doctor gave me a choice: red meat or blood transfusions. I chose steak.
My husband, a self-proclaimed omnivore, did a victory lap in the doctor's office. Then he went shopping for steaks. Lots of them.
Once the babes were born, I surprised myself; I continued to dine carnivorously. But not because I had one of those "what was I thinking all those years" moments. Mostly, I ate meat because that's what other people prepared for us. And I was tired, not to mention overwhelmed. Cooking a separate meal for myself was not a realistic option. I was an accidental carnivore.
Fast forward more than a year…my kids are eating "real" food, including meat. And I still eat meat. But the problem is I still won't cook it.
While I can get over the yuck factor that turned me vegetarian in the first place, I can't bring myself to put cold, dead animal flesh in my hands to prepare it. Over the last few months, I would wait for my husband to come home. He didn’t mind (he was ecstatic I was still eating meat), but the system wasn’t exactly good for our schedules.
Recently, I realized I had to step up. Be the grown up. Be the mommy. So I got out the gloves. Literally. I wore latex gloves, picked up some chicken breasts, and went to work. (FYI, the gloves don't make boneless, skinless breasts less slimy).
Then I placed the chicken in a very tasty and super simple Moroccan-inspired herb marinade (it wasn't too late to experience the lost flavors of my honeymoon). I let it sit for 30 minutes, put it in the broiler (plans to grill were rained out), and 16 minutes later it was done.
It was also delicious. And the kiddos went crazy for it. I successfully cooked chicken. Score two for me.
Moroccan Grilled Chicken:Ingredients:
½ cup chopped scallions
½ cup chopped parsley
½ cup chopped cilantro
2 garlic cloves
3 tsp paprika
3 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
¾ cup olive oil
8 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Combine scallions, parsley, cilantro, garlic, paprika, cumin, salt, cayenne pepper, and olive oil in the bowl of a food processor or blender. Process until smooth.
Rub the mixture on both sides of the chicken breasts and let stand 30 minutes.
To grill: Preheat grill to medium-high heat. Grill chicken breasts 5 to 7 minutes per side.
To broil: Preheat broiler. Broil chicken breasts 7 to 9 minutes per side.
To keep it simple, instead of chopping the parsley and cilantro, I eyeballed the amount I needed and let the food processor do the work.
You should have marinade left over, so you can pour more on the chicken when you turn it over during cooking for added flavor.
I initially served it with a couscous salad and marinated artichokes, but leftovers were just as good served over mixed greens.