A lot of people are surprised that (a) I'm not offended by meat eaters, (b) I'm not opposed to cooking meat, and (c) I'm actually capable of seasoning and cooking meat properly without tasting it. The thing is, I consider my choice to be vegetarian a personal decision based on what I enjoy eating and while I want others to be respectful of my choice not to eat meat, I try to respect their dietary choices in return. And since I love cooking for my friends and family, and most of those people enjoy eating meat atleast once in a while, I very much wanted to learn to cook meat, atleast once in a while. And while I definitely taste as I cook while preparing a soup, sauce or similar dishes, even meat eaters don't actually slice off a hunk of meat while it's cooking to test for seasoning or doneness. Both are things that can very much be learned by reading and watching experienced cooks.
That said, I tend to prefer recipes that involve meat in a way that is quick to prepare and easy to swap out - a chicken breast, steak, pork chop, or burger all cook in a few minutes and can be paired with a variety of sides that go equally well with a tofu steak, veggie patties, or seitan, whereas something like beef stew or barbecue ribs involve a rather lengthy process that tends to overshadow the other items on the menu.
For this dinner, I served the chicken breast with pureed cauliflower (simply cook cauliflower until tender, puree in a food processor, add butter, herb, salt and pepper to taste and heat just before serving) and braised greens with shallots and white wine. And for my entree, I subbed a couple marinated tofu steaks.
Jon is a huge fan of chicken breast stuffed with cheese. This version has an italian influence with the basil, oregano, tallegio, and proscuitto, but feel free to vary the combination to suit your tastes.
Chicken Breast Rolls with Prosciutto and Taleggio
Makes one chicken breast
1 6-8 ounce chicken breast
1/2 tsp chopped oregano
1/2 tsp chopped basil
3 slices prosciutto
1 ounce taleggio, sliced into 1/8" pieces
1 tsp flour
1 tbsp olive oil
1 small shallot, finely minced
1 tsp chopped mixed herbs (such as basil and oregano)
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/2 tsp butter
salt and pepper to taste
Butterfly chicken breast by slicing in half lengthwise and opening like a book. Place between two sheets of heavy duty plastic wrap (or in a large plastic baggy). Pound out with a mallet, or in my case a wine bottle and metal coffee pot (anything heavy and flat bottomed will work), until about 1/4" thick.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Unwrap chicken and season both sides liberally with salt and pepper, then sprinkle one side with chopped herbs. Lay out prosciutto slices to cover chicken evenly. Then distribute cheese slices evenly over surface. Wrap tightly tucking in end pieces and secure with toothpicks. Lightly coat in flour.
Heat oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Place chicken breast in skillet with toothpicks out to the side, allow to brown on one side and then the other, when somewhat firm, remove toothpicks and continue to brown on final side. Transfer to oven on a lined baking sheet and bake for approximately 15 minutes. Meanwhile, add shallot and butter to skillet and allow to brown slightly on medium heat. Add wine and reduce to a thickened pan sauce. When chicken is cooked through, remove from oven and top with pan sauce, serve immediately.