If you’ve spent any amount of time hanging out with me you’ll know I’m keen on protein. Big fan. Major enthusiast.
I’ll tell you more about protein in another post (frankly, I could write a whole book about protein!). For now, suffice it to say that protein is incredibly important for human health — if nothing else by providing satiety and helping regulate our appetite hormones. When we don’t eat enough protein, many of us go through our day constantly thinking about food, nibbling on this, snacking on that, and despite consuming enough calories to cover our energy requirements, we never feel fully, deeply satisfied.
That’s why I always make a point of keeping tasty, easy-to-grab high-quality protein to hand. By high-quality I mean animal protein. Sure, nuts and beans contain protein, and I love them, too, but nothing satisfies me as deeply as a serving of animal protein — not just meat or fish, but eggs or yogurt, too. Again, I’ll write more about this eventually; for now, please trust me when I say that animal protein contains all nine essential amino acids — the protein building blocks our bodies need to thrive — whereas most plant foods don’t. Which is why it’s easier for me (and many of my clients) to feel satisfied by even a small serving of animal protein than a larger amount of plant protein.
When people hear “easy-to-grab” they think of protein bars and drinks, and of course that’s a perfectly fine option that I myself use occasionally, esp. when traveling. However, some of these can be pretty heavily processed and expensive, so I prefer to keep homemade proteins on standby that I can easily add to my meals to supplement my vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds and fruits.
This simple dish is an example of a simple protein standby: chicken thighs infused with garlic, oregano (or a different herb of your liking) and white wine (or chicken broth and lemon juice), cooked for seven minutes in the Instant Pot (or longer in a crock pot or simmered on the stove), shredded, cooled and refrigerated. (The flavors get even better after a day in the fridge.)
From there, you can:
- Eat the meat as-is — warm or cold — atop a salad,
- Use it in quesadillas or
- Sloppy Joes,
- Stir it into vegetable soups, or
- Toss it in various sauces and dressings, such as:
- BBQ sauce
- Salsa with a pinch of Mexican spices
- Honey-mustard olive oil dressing
- Blue cheese dressing
- Mayonnaise & Greek yogurt with chives & celery (maybe a pinch of curry powder) for a traditional chicken salad
- And probably 53 other ways (please share yours).
Shredded Instant-Pot Chicken
- 1 Instant Pot or pressure cooker a slow-cooker/crock pot works, too, but will take a lot longer and taste less-fresh
- 2¼ lbs chicken thighs boneless, skinless
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup dry vermouth I love Noilly Prat from the south of France; if you don't consume alcohol, use chicken bone broth & a generous squeeze of lemon juice
- 5 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tsp oregano dried
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 tbsp fish sauce my favorite is Red Boat
- Place all the ingredients in the Instant Pot and stir to combine. Lock the lid, shift the pressure valve to SEALING and program the pot to HIGH PRESSURE, 7 minutes.
- Once the cooking time is up, let the pressure reduce naturally for 10 minutes. Release remaining pressure by shifting the pressure valve to VENTING (place a kitchen towel over the vent to avoid steam spraying you and your kitchen).
- Using tongs, transfer the meat to a plate. Switch pot to SAUTE, HIGH to reduce the juices remaining in the pot. Stir these occasionally, esp. as they thicken, to avoid excess evaporation leading to browning or burning.
- While the sauce is bubbling away, shred the chicken with two forks (it'll be so tender it will fall apart very easily).
- Once the sauce in the pot is the consistency of heavy cream, hit CANCEL to switch off the heat. Return the shredded meat to the sauce and toss gently to combine.
- Transfer to a clean storage container, eal and refrigerate. Keeps for about one week in the fridge.