Eat Well: The Vegetarian's Guide to Cooking Meat

The following post was written by my mom, WWW. Thanks, Mom!

P.S. This is the first post in a series of posts I've been meaning to publish for all you vegetarian parents who cook the occasional meat dish for your kids. In my case, "meat" means fish and poultry, because pork and beef are where I draw the line in terms of cooking. (Sorry, kids. When you're 18 you can experiment with beef.) 

Ethically raised chicken (see below) and fish, however, have been served more and more in my house as of late, and while I really only know one chicken recipe (Tamara taught me how to cook chicken last summer) my mom knows a million recipes because only recently (relatively speaking) has she become a vegetarian. 

Also, and perhaps this is for another post, it is hugely important to me that my kids understand what it is they are eating and where it comes from... how it got there, how it was killed, etc. 

I stopped eating meat at age 12 because I could not NOT think of where the meat came from when I ate it and what it meant to consume another body in order to sustain my own. It is important for my kids to at least acknowledge where there food has come from and to pay homage to the creature they are consuming. 

"Thank you, Chicken. Thank you, Fish."

Sorry this is so long. I'm done now. 

For now. 

Take it away, WWW! 


Last week, I had the joy of helping Hal with the kids while Rebecca was in Peru and then San Francisco. I am incredibly lucky to have the flexibility in my work schedule so that I can help when needed. And although it would be amazing to live in the same town as my grand kids, there is something special about going there to stay; it feels almost like a mini vacation when I spend a few days, or a week, with the family in their house. My purpose is clear, my mind is present, and my regular life seems a million miles away.

I’m going to sound like a grandma now—I can’t help the gushing—but all four kids were amazing all week and I couldn’t be prouder of team BARF. We cooked together—made pancakes and cornbread, shelled English peas, and made heart-shaped chicken. 
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Since the little ones are in preschool until 5, Archer, Fable and I had some really fun quality time together. We played Monopoly twice, (I was the big looser) Uno, Simon, and we built a really cool Lego building (Fable now has massive Lego skills like her brother.) And I was thrilled to be invited to Bo and Revi’s school on Wednesday to help make Chinese Lanterns for Chinese New Years. 
Of course I made some mistakes…forgot to take blankets to preschool one day, put the snack in the wrong spot in backpacks, left a bottle of my argan face oil open near the Sprout computer, which of course Bo decided to paint with (luckily no damage was done)…but all in all, it was an incredible week. 

I am in awe of how Rebecca and Hal manage to do everything without any help and both work full-time. I had big plans of going on outings while the kids were at school…hitting up the LACMA, the Getty Villa, taking long walks in the city and having lunches in sidewalk cafes.  But as it turned out, only once did I go to lunch (with one of my childhood friends) because by the time I finished answering my emails, cleaning, doing the wash, and getting things prepped for dinner, it was time to pick up the kids.  I remember these days so well…looking at the clock and realizing that it was already 2. Whew! Huge respect to all of you.

I know I don’t eat meat, but Rebecca’s kids eat chicken once a week, so while I was with them, I resurrected my favorite “kid chicken” recipe—a sure-fire favorite—and I want to share it with those of you who do eat meat.  I bought my chicken from Whole Foods, since they have The Five Step animal welfare rating. (I am very impressed with this rating system, and highly recommend watching this video.)

Whole foods also has already pounded breasts, but if you buy these there or anywhere else, make sure you pound them even more, to  about ¼ inch.

I have never known a child not to like this recipe. I made 5 huge breasts, and there wasn’t one drop left. The trick to this recipe is pounding the breasts as thin as possible (1/4 inch if you can). By pounding them, the tough protein fibers are broken down and the cooking time is short, ensuring the chicken to be both tender and juicy. Fable LOVED helping me make the chicken. She dredged the breasts with the flour and coated them with the breadcrumbs/Parmesan mixture. (She didn’t want to do the egg part because it was “icky.”)

Ina Garten’s Parmesan Chicken

4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (or already pounded breasts)
1 cup all-purpose flour (or gluten-free flour)
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 extra-large eggs, beaten with 1 tablespoon of water
1 ¼ cups seasoned dry bread crumbs (Italian)
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Olive oil (or a combo of olive oil and butter)

Pound the chicken breasts until they are ¼ inch thick.  You can use either a meat mallet or rolling pin.  (I put the breast between two pieces of plastic wrap and pound them with a rolling pin.)

Combine the flour, salt, and pepper on a dinner plate. On a second plate, pour the egg and water mixture.  On a third plate, combine the breadcrumbs and the Parmesan cheese.  Coat the chicken breasts on both sides with the flour mixture, then dip both sides into the egg mixture, and dredge both sides in the bread-crumb mixture, pressing lightly.
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Heat about 2 tablespoons of oil (or combination of oil and butter) in a large frying pan on medium heat.  When nice and hot, add chicken, two breasts at a time, and cook for several minutes on a side, or until cooked through (I found it takes about 3 minutes on a side.)
Add more oil and cook the rest of the breasts. (Put the already cooked breasts in a warm (200 degree) oven until all breasts are cooked.)  Serve.

P.S. Ina Garten suggests serving the chicken with an oil and lemon dressed salad, but I served the chicken with pea tendrils and arugula dressed with, my obsession, lemon miso salad dressing.