Some of the most important things I’ve learnt on the Natural Chef course have come from the simplest recipes. The idea of flattening poultry or pork to make it go further and cook quickly isn’t revolutionary, but it’s a great technique to have up your sleeve to turn what is otherwise one of my most hated cut of meat (breast!) into something great. One of three reasons I used to avoid buying whole chickens for anything other than a roast was because I wouldn’t know what to do with the breast! It’s so easy to overcook breast because it’s a very lean cut of meat with no fat to keep them moist, and compounding the problem is the fact that they’re quite thick, so can take a while to cook through, making the outside really tough while the inside is still pink. Bashing out the meat so it’s very thin means that the meat cooks in less than 10 minutes and as long as you keep a close eye on it you won’t end up with a dry, tough piece of meat.
I’ve suggested turkey here because it’s a meat that I rarely buy, but I’d like to use it more as it’s usually pretty cheap. It’s also high in tryptophan, which is great to eat at night as this amino acid is a precursor to melatonin, the hormone that signals to your body it’s bedtime. You could use chicken breast, pork chops, veal, or any other lean, boneless cut of meat instead.
Ingredients. Serves 2.
For the turkey:
- 350g turkey breast
- 1 tsp. olive oil
- Salt and pepper
For the dressing:
- 1 large, ripe tomato
- 20g basil
- 20g coriander or parsley
- 100ml extra virgin olive oil
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 1 clove of garlic, crushed or finely chopped
- 1 tsp. coarse sea salt
- ½ tsp. black pepper
- Salad leaves such as baby spinach, watercress, rocket and baby kale
Method. Preparation time: 15 minutes. Cooking time: 7 minutes.
- First make the dressing. Measure out the olive oil in a jug and add the lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper. Finely chop the tomato and herbs and add to the jug. Mix well with a fork. Set aside.
- Preheat the grill to high. Pat the turkey breast dry and place between two pieces of baking parchment. Place on a large, flat surface, and using a rolling pin or meat mallet, bash the turkey until it is uniformly about ½ cm thin. Season generously with salt and pepper and rub around ½ teaspoon of olive oil onto each side.
- Place the turkey on a grill rack and grill for around 4 minutes on the first side until starting to brown; turn over and grill for about 2 minutes or so on the other side.
- Slice into thin strips and pile onto a plate; drizzle with some dressing. Serve with a baby leaf salad and any leftover dressing on the side.