The past week or so, I’ve been on the RAT diet (aka the BRAT diet, but I don’t like bananas). With most meals limited to applesauce, tea, electrolyte drinks, broth, and challah rolls, my dishwasher is full of mugs, bowls, and spoons.
When I felt ready to move to more solid foods, I went cautiously. I craved protein and needed something pure, with nothing that might offend my stomach – no fat, no spice, no acid, no dairy, no nothing. A search for “bland recipe” didn’t really turn up anything inspiring. But I had some chicken breasts in the freezer and, still not up to an excursion to the grocery store, decided to poach.
Admittedly, this isn’t my prettiest dish. My vegetarian sister commented that she hoped it tasted better than it looked. Sure, the chicken looks anemic, but I like to think of it as a blank slate – a tabula rasa if you want to get all philosophical. First, I nibbled the chicken as is. The next day, I shredded some meat and heated it up in a bowl of broth and noodles. And then one night I dipped slices into a mix of mayonnaise and dijon. Hopefully soon, I’ll be able to slice it into a sandwich or cube it over a salad.
Looks aside, I stand by this chicken, as it stood by me. Even though it’s one of the most boring recipes in the world, I’m posting it here as a reminder of how good those first bites taste after being sick and with the hope that someone else on the mend will find it helpful.
Adapted from The Kitchn. You can use whatever you have in our kitchen to gently flavor the chicken – here I used the basics, but on a more adventurous day, I might throw in some dried chili peppers and smashed garlic. The Kitchn also suggests adding a bay leaf, sliced ginger, other fresh herbs, or thinly sliced onions, and substituting a cup of white wine for some of the water.
– 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
– handful fresh parsley
– 1/2 lemon, sliced
– 1 t kosher salt
– 1 t whole peppercorns
Arrange the chicken in a single layer on the bottom of a pot. The pieces can overlap a little bit, but they’ll cook more evenly in a single layer. Scatter the parsley, lemon, salt and pepper, over the chicken, and then add cold water to cover the chicken by an inch or so.
Bring the pot to a boil. Some white scum will rise to the top – feel free to skim it off.
Lower the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for 10-15 minutes until the chicken is cooked all the way through (opaque in the center) and registers 165ºF with an instant-read thermometer. Start checking at 8 minutes.
Remove the chicken from the liquid and serve.