I’ve been thinking a lot about the writings of Mark Bittman at the New York Times. He, like Chef Jamie Oliver, Michael Pollan and a number of others are working feverishly to convince Americans that they need to dramatically change the way that they eat. One of the primary concerns of these writers is that food choices so clearly impact rates of diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and cancer (amongst a host of other health issues). In addition to health Mark Bittman has been focusing in on the issue of cost. He wants Americans to realize that the cost savings associated with buying processed foods are a figment of our collective imaginations, or in less generous terms, a lie perpetrated by the fast food industry to make working class and poorer Americans think that fast food is a cheaper food option than cooking for one’s self. Earlier this year Mr. Bittman took issue with McDonald’s oatmeal and more recently he has focused on the cost of feeding a family of four burgers, fries and kid’s meals. Although his writings in many ways are not meant for me (my children have never eaten a meal at McDonald’s) the articles have caused me to think more carefully about the cost of many of the dinners I make, both in terms of time and money. This dinner, for example, takes at most 20 minutes to prepare. Its cost is quite low, no more than $16 total (depending on where you buy your chicken). Combined with a salad, glasses of milk or water for the kids and the pasta or brown rice, it comes in well under the cost of a McDonald’s dinner (which Bittman cites at $24 for a family of 4) and takes less time than driving to and from the McDonald’s to buy dinner. After you make this inexpensive, tasty and quick dinner set a little time aside to ask me about the time Michael Pollan drove me home (in his VW Bug) from a National Public Radio event. It was the only time in my life that my consistent and annoying capacity for car sickness actually had a positive end result.
Chicken Salsa Verde (4-5 servings)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 lbs boneless, skinless raw chicken (I used a combination of dark and light meat)
- ½ cup onion, finely diced
- 1 clove garlic, finely diced
- 1 shallot, finely diced
- 2 12-oz jars salsa verde (I use Trader Joe’s brand)
- 4 oz crème fraiche or sour cream
- ½ cup cilantro, finely chopped
- 2 cups cherry tomatoes, whole
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the chicken, onion, shallot and garlic. Sauté over medium heat. When the chicken is starting to cook through (approx. 8-10 minutes), remove it and chop it into cubes, returning it immediately to the pot. Add the salsa verde and continue cooking until the chicken is just cooked through, this won’t take more than 15 minutes. Add the crème fraiche, the cilantro and the tomatoes. Stir. Cook over medium heat for 3-5 minutes, until the tomatoes are just starting to burst. Serve immediately over pasta or brown rice.