Everyone has those recipes that they have used for as long as they can remember. We’re no different. Karen and I have been making this recipe, in some variation, for about as long as we’ve been married (maybe even a little longer). It was always easy and quick, for those nights when you didn’t plan ahead. (Are you seeing a pattern yet? I am!)
Of course, over time we’ve modified it a little here and a little there, based on what was in the refrigerator or, more recently, based on what was truly healthy. I can remember originally it had bowtie pasta, slightly different sauce ingredients, and a whole lot less variety of veggies. Not anymore…
- 3 tbsp pastured butter (divided)
- 3 cloves garlic
- 2 chicken breasts (approx 1-1/2 lbs boneless & skinless – you could use thighs or turkey as well)
- 1/2 cup frozen peas (optional – see note at bottom of post)
- 2 med-sized carrots (from our CSA)
- 1 small head broccoli
- 2~3 mushrooms
- 1-1/2 tsp lemon pepper
- 1/2 tsp fresh ground white pepper
- 1 tsp low-salt chicken bouillon
- 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
- zest of 1/2 lemon
- ~3 tbsp fresh Parmesan cheese (optional)
Measure out your peas, put them in a prep bowl and set aside. Slice the carrots and mushrooms and put in a bowl. Cut the broccoli into small florets and put in another bowl (or the same one, if you plan ahead enough and grab a bigger one to start with). Mince up the garlic and put it in a separate bowl (I mean it this time). Cut up the chicken into 1/2″ pieces.
Get the wok heated up on Medium-High heat, then drop in about 1 tbsp of that grass-fed pastured butter. Resist the urge to cut off another tablespoon and eat it. Well, only resist a little…then give it a try. It’s sooooo good! Toss the garlic in and sauté for about 15 seconds until is just starts to turn golden.
Add in the chicken, the lemon pepper, and the white pepper. Sauté that until it is nearly cooked through – maybe 5 minutes or so.
Toss in all of the veggies and sauté all of it for about 3~4 minutes more until the veggies are just warm but still crisp.
Next, push everything out toward the sides to form a little “well” in the center. Reduce the head to Medium-Low and add the cream, remaining butter (that’s 2 tbsp – we don’t count the couple of tablespoons you’ve been snacking on while making it), and bouillon to the center. Whisk these together to get the butter melted and the bouillon mixed in. Let it simmer for a couple of minutes, whisking, to reduce slightly. Sprinkle the lemon zest over everything, then mix in all of the chicken and veggies and let simmer a little longer to reduce a little more.
Grate the fresh Parmesan over the top (if you’re using it), and you’re all set!
Serve it up in a big bowl and dig in. This one’s a meal all by itself – no need for any extra side dishes – and it was good and quick too. Enjoy!
NOTE: So – what about the peas??? As it turns out, green beans and raw green peas seem to be pretty hotly debated when it comes to Primal. Strictly speaking, all peas and beans are legumes, as are soy, peanuts, and carob (and alfalfa, mesquite, and clover…in case you feel like munching on them too). Legumes contain significant amounts of lectins and other compounds the prohibit the absorption of nutrients and cause inflammation in the gut. The neolithic component is the actual seed of the plant, of which nearly all varieties that are used as foods must be dried and then prepared and cooked in order to be palatable (or even edible!). From a Paleo standpoint, that makes it pretty clear – they’re OUT!
Where it gets tricky is with green beans, and to a slightly lesser extent fresh green peas like snow peas. These don’t entirely fit in the traditional “legume” category because the plant is picked “unripe” and the bulk of what is consumed is actually the vegetable-like seed pod while the size and amount of actual seed consumed is small. The lectin and other anti-nutrient loads are greatly reduced and the amounts of nutrients in the pod are much greater…making them essentially “neutral” in terms of their overall impact on health. In light of this, and the fact that we also incorporate a certain amount of dairy fat (through pastured butter, cream, and occasional cheese) in our diet, we don’t really see the harm in having them on occasion as part of our varied diet. You’ll even see them show up in the recipes included in both Mark Sisson’s The Primal Blueprint Cookbook and Robb Wolff’s The Paleo Solution.
Obviously, carrying this reasoning out the the actual green peas that I included in this recipe is a stretch. There is no “pod,” only seeds…which are legumes. So maybe I goofed a bit by including them. Given that this is the only recipe that I ever use green peas in, and I only make it on occasion (and that they are purely optional), I’m not going to lose sleep over the 1/8 cup of legumes that made it into my stomach tonight. Now, if I was just starting out with the whole Primal/Paleo diet and was on my “introductory 30 day trial,” I’d steer clear of them. But I’d also steer clear of the dairy too during that period to make sure I’m getting things off on the right foot.