04 October 2010

Fleshing it Out: Cooking Raw Meat

It's been quite some time since we last spoke of meat.

Here's a glimpse into where I'm at, now more than half a year into my meat-eating foray. I've garnered a new love for turkey sandwiches, cheated a few times with bacon, and even ordered chicken saltimbocca this weekend (yes, with the pancetta).

Notice what these all have in common: Someone else was doing the dirty work of preparing my meats.

Alas, it's time to jump over a hurdle.

When I first reintroduced fish into my diet a few years ago, cooking got interesting. It wasn't so much the cooking as it was the preparation. Peeling back the plasticwrap and handling the raw fish used to make me squeamish; I'd use knives and tongs and spatulas - anything I could get my hands on to keep my hands off the actual fish.

I've since relaxed. It took some getting used to (and a lot of handsoap), but I'm now comfortable with letting the raw meat drape over my palm as I tug out thin bones with my fingernails; massaging oil and spice into the flesh; placing the slab directly from fishwrap to foil-lined baking trays without hesitation.

I felt a stronger resistance, though, when I envisioned doing the same with poultry...

So much so that it took me nearly 8 months to bite the bullet and buy some raw chicken to cook.

I've had a bag of frozen chicken breasts in the freezer. Even those made me nervous because I had to think about properly thawing then properly cooking the flesh (neither of which I have to worry about for vegetarian options).

But, last week, I finally got brave. And it's all because of my October edition of Food + Wine magazine. As I thumbed through the pages of recipes, I noticed a new trend: I was dog-earring recipes that contained meat - and, for possibly the first time in more than a decade, I wasn't thinking about what faux meats to substitute.


I landed on this Chicken Scarpariello recipe. It looked relatively easy and very tasty.

So off I went to Whole Foods' meat section to buy some boneless chicken thighs and the various accoutrements to finish the recipe. I invited another meat-eating friend over for dinner, got out my skillet, and went to work.

I only hesitated once, trying to figure out how to season the chicken before landing it in the pan - without touching it (I quickly remembered a trick I saw on Rachael Ray; leave the meat on the tray you buy it in, and season the top side. Flip that seasoned-side down into your pan, then re-season the new "top" as the bottom starts to cook.)

Easy-peasy. And immensely satisfying - even cold, as leftovers, the next day. I can see this becoming a new go-to and I'm so happy I'm over the hump.


  1. LOVED your garden post and can't wait to hear more about the music project! This post cracks me up because I'm having some of the same issues. I have been off the veg wagon for a couple years now--I thought it was just going to be one Hawaiian pizza--and I am having a hard time with handling of the raw stuff. The boneless skinless breasts are hanging out getting freezer burned in the fridge. I did make some beef barley soup last weekend. The meat smelled gross to me while it was cooking but the end result was yummy. Oh, and I ordered the Saltimbocca at Cafe Piccolo last weekend; is that where you had yours?? xoxoxo Anne H.

  2. I find myself cheating with bacon all the time with clam chowder....there really ISN'T a way to avoid bacon if you want a good cup o' chowder! I'm the same way with handling fish....ICKKKKK!!! Chicken is okay, though....you'll get used to it! ;)

  3. Congratulations, brave girl! In another year, we'll have you skinning and boning your own chicken thighs. It's satisfying--really! Happy to do a lesson anytime! xoxo