Eating healthier doesn’t mean sacrificing great taste or even old recipes. We just need to make these old meals “new and improved”. Like many people in Maryland, I love traditional chicken dishes, but not all chicken is created equal. Just removing extra skin or pealing it off before eating doesn’t really cut it. We need healthier birds.

Start with choices at the grocer

Are you a suburban or rural chicken keeper? I’m not (yet). This means I need to pick my birds at the market or grocer. These days, many farmers are raising healthy chickens. They are grass fed and pasture raised. When you start with a healthy animal, it makes all the difference for your own health.

Preparation for a Healthier Chicken

How we prepare and cook our chicken is next on the agenda. Using Olive Oil is a great way to flavor and cook meats – not just chicken. The benefits of Olive Oil are well documented. Olive Oil…

… Is Rich in Healthy Monounsaturated Fats.

… Contains Large Amounts of Antioxidants.

… Has Strong Anti-Inflammatory Properties.

… May Help Prevent Strokes.

… Is Protective Against Heart Disease.

After coating the chicken in Olive Oil, I gave my chicken the Chesapeake treatment – adding plenty of Old Bay. I like all chicken but prefer the dark meat. Bake the chicken in the oven at approximately 400 degrees for 40 minutes (meat temp should reach 165 degrees) and you are done. Crab meat optional. Easy.

The Traditional Recipe

What’s the traditional recipe for Chesapeake Chicken? It’s a little more complex.

Ingredients

4 chicken breasts

1/2 lb Lump Crab Meat

1/2 lb Jumbo Lump Crab Meat

1/4 cup parsley chopped

3/4 cup Ritz crackers crushed

1 large egg

3/4 tsp worcestershire sauce

3/4 tsp lemon juice

3/4 tsp Seafood Seasoning

3/4 tsp dijon mustard

1/2 cup mayonnaise

2 tbsp pimentos chopped, if desired

flour seasoned with Seafood Seasoning

melted butter

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350°.

Combine the egg, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, seafood seasoning, Dijon mustard, and mayonnaise in a bowl.

Place the crab meat, parsley, and Ritz crackers into a separate bowl. Mix very lightly to combine.

Add the wet ingredients to the crab mixture and combine lightly.

Carefully use a knife to make a “pocket” in each chicken breast for the crab stuffing. Portion a mound of crab filling in the middle of each pocket and fold over to close.

If desired, add stuffed breasts to preheated grill pan to mark exterior before baking.

Place stuffed breasts into a casserole dish or deep baking pan.

Season to your liking with seasoned flour and pour melted butter over top of each chicken breast.

Bake at 350° for 20-25 minutes, or until chicken is cooked to an internal temperature of 165°.

Back to the Future

Making changes to our diets doesn’t mean throwing the baby out with the bath water. We can have our old favorites – modified. With just a little research and some changes in what we buy, it is possible to keep a healthy weight and maintain our health, all the while truly enjoying our food. In fact, cooking meals like this for family and friends won’t even turn any heads. Nobody will notice that the chicken meal you prepared is healthy for them. A side dish of vegetables like green beans, a light Cole Slaw or a salad will complete the picture. Surprise your guests or family with a great-tasting meal that is leaner.

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