Meat and Poultry

Baked Chicken and Rice

This is one of my favorite chicken dishes. It’s quick and easy. And it’s perfect for Sukkot! Baharat is a blend of spices that may include cinnamon, cloves and chile peppers. If the spices in this recipe don’t appeal to you, substitute others, like oregano, dill or tarragon.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, minced
1 ½ cups brown rice, rinsed
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground paprika
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
½ teaspoon ground baharat (optional)
½ teaspoon salt
3 cups water
2 ½ – 3 pounds chicken, cut into pieces and skin removed

Preheat the oven to 350 F (180 C).

Heat the oil in a skillet and sauté the onion, stirring, until golden. Put the onion into a large shallow baking dish or casserole. Add the rice to the onions and mix together.

Mix the spices and salt in a small bowl. Set aside a few teaspoons of the mixture and add the remaining spices to the water. Pour this over the rice in the baking dish. Place the chicken pieces on top and sprinkle with the remaining spice mixture.

Cover tightly and bake for one hour. Uncover and bake for another 15 minutes, until the chicken is thoroughly cooked and browned.

4-6 servings

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A Happy and Healthy Yom Ha’atzmaut

For most Israelis, Yom Ha’atzmaut (Israel Independence Day) wouldn’t be Yom Ha’atzmaut without a barbeque. And barbeque here means grilled chicken and/or beef.

Grilled meats are a tasty and fun treat, but because they contain carcinogens, eating a lot of them may pose a risk for some types of cancer.

When muscle meats (beef, poultry and fish) are cooked at high temperatures, the carcinogen HCA (heterocyclic amine) is formed. Another carcinogen, PAH (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon) is formed on the surface of meat when fat and juices drip into the grill and produce smoke and flames.

For a healthy holiday, here are some tips for minimizing your exposure to cancer-causing chemicals:

Marinate poultry and beef before grilling. Marinades, especially those containing herbs and garlic, seem to reduce the build-up of HCA’s during grilling.

Cook meat until it’s done, but not well-done. The longer it’s on the grill, the greater the build up of carcinogens. Remove any burned pieces of meat before serving.

Choose lean meat and trim all visible fat. That will reduce the amount of smoke and flames from the grill.

Go easy on the meat. Fill your plate with healthy vegetable, grain and bean-based salads. That way, you’ll get plenty of vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and fiber. Save a smaller place on your plate for higher fat grilled meats.

Chag Sameach!

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Poultry for Passover

Poultry is a tasty and easy low-fat choice year-round and especially during Pesach. Here are two recipes, one for white meat turkey breast and the second for dark meat chicken thighs (פרגיות in Hebrew)

Here in Israel, turkey breast and chicken thighs are sold skinless and boneless – perfect convenience foods!   If you can’t get your butcher to skin and bone the poultry, you can use what’s available in your area. 

Turkey Breast with Fresh Herbs (Meat)

Lemon juice, olive oil and fresh herbs transform ordinary turkey breast into a very special main course. This would make a great Shabbat Pesach entrée. For a larger crowd, use a whole turkey breast and double the amount of the marinade ingredients. Cold leftovers are also delicious. Just be sure to start the recipe well in advance, as the turkey needs to marinate for 24 hours.

Half a turkey breast, about 2 pounds (1 kilo)

¼ cup fresh parsley leaves

¼ cup fresh mint leaves

¼ cup fresh coriander leaves

1 clove garlic, peeled

¼ cup olive oil

¼ cup fresh lemon juice

½ cup dry white wine

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Place the turkey breast in a glass or other non-metal container.

Process the rest of the ingredients in a food processor until the mixture is fairly smooth.

Pour the marinade over the turkey. Make sure that it covers all of the turkey.  Cover and refrigerate for 24 hours.

Preheat the oven to 425 F (220 C). Remove the turkey from the marinade and place it on a roasting tray. (Save the marinade for the sauce; see below.) Cook for 20 minutes.  Reduce the oven temperature to 400 F (200 C) and cook until the turkey reaches an internal temperature of 160 F (71C). Let it rest for 10 minutes before slicing.

Pour the marinade into a small saucepan and cook for 15 minutes or until it’s reduced by about half.  Serve with the sliced turkey. 

Serves 8

Lemon-Baked Chicken Thighs with Fennel and Olives (Meat)

Here’s another poultry recipe to start in the evening and cook the next day. Or, you can marinate the chicken early in the day and bake it in the evening.  This recipe is great for Shabbat, as the chicken stays moist and juicy while waiting on the plata or in the oven.

2 pounds (1 kilo) skinless boneless chicken thighs

1 tablespoon lemon zest (1 large lemon)

¼ cup fresh lemon juice (from the same lemon)

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

3 cloves garlic, crushed

2 teaspoons dried oregano

1 teaspoon sugar

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 large or 2 small fennel bulbs, cored and thinly sliced

1 large onion, sliced

¾ cup dry white wine

½ cup chicken or vegetable broth

¼ – ½ cup black olives, pitted

Arrange the chicken thighs in a flat glass or ceramic baking dish. 

Mix together the lemon zest, lemon juice, ¼ cup of olive oil, garlic, oregano and sugar. Pour it over the chicken. Turn the chicken pieces over to coat both sides in the marinade. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

When you’re ready to finish cooking the chicken, heat the 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet. Add the fennel and onion slices and sauté until soft and golden.  Add the wine and broth and cook for a few minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 F (180 C).

Remove the chicken from the refrigerator and pour the fennel and onion mixture over it. Scatter the olives on top.  Cover with aluminum foil and bake for about 40 minutes, until the chicken is completely cooked.

Serves 8-10

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Just say NO!…. (to hot dogs)

And now for something completely different…

Yes, we’re still at war. Less than 20 rockets hit southern Israel today. They just announced it on the news as if it was something to be happy about. But for those of us who are reminded of a wailing siren whenever a motorcycle goes by or the heater turns on, even one rocket attack is too many.

Let’s discuss something else today:

Should hot dogs and salami be banned from school lunch?

The Cancer Project, an organization promoting cancer prevention and survival, is trying to do just that.

What’s wrong with hot dogs, bologna sandwiches and corned beef on rye? Are deli meats all that bad?

What’s the big deal?

The recommendation is based on a report by the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) and the World Cancer Research Fund. Looking at a large number of studies, they found a direct link between eating processed meat and developing colorectal cancer.

Their conclusion pointed to a 21% higher risk of cancer from eating 50 grams (1 ¾ ounces) of processed meat every day. That’s the size of one hot dog. And apparently, some children eat hot dogs every day!

Bologna, salami, corned beef, pastrami, sausage, hot dogs – these are all processed meats. They’re prepared by curing, salting, smoking or by the addition of preservatives.

We’re not sure why they increase cancer risk. It may have to do with the added preservatives, flavorings or colors. Or it may be the result of a chemical reaction during cooking or digestion.

There’s another good reason to avoid processed meats. They’re notoriously high in salt and saturated fat – bad news for heart health.

There are plenty of healthier ways to enjoy meat. Lean cuts of beef, chicken and turkey are all good choices. And don’t forget other healthy protein foods like fish, eggs and the wonderful variety of delicious legumes.

The AICR recommends that everyone – not just children, avoid processed meats entirely. And I agree.

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Chana Rubin, RD

Food for the Soul

Traditional Jewish Wisdom for Healthy Eating
By Chana Rubin, RD

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