(Spoiler alert!- There is a meat recipe at the end of this post for cooks with omnivore family members.)
I must confess, I am not strictly vegetarian. I tried once. It lasted about 3 weeks. I woke up one morning, stumbled into the kitchen, and fell on the plate of breakfast sausage like I hadn't eaten anything in a week.
Looking back I realize that it is because I just don't have the ethical problem with meat that so many have. What I do have, is a desire for better health for myself and my family. And in that respect, my 3 weeks as a vegetarian did help- I lost about 3 lbs.
I would do the "Meatless Monday" type things, but the fact of the matter is my husband literally REFUSES to eat a meal without meat. You know the type I'm sure- past omnivore and into all out carnivore territorry. And my 4 year old, who is in the 25th percentile for weight, refuses most cooked veggies on principle.
Over time, this has led to the development of some "split decision" meals. Meals that can be EASILY adapted to omni or veggie, and even some that make the omni/veggie split at the last minute, thus avoiding preparing two separate meals.
I know there have to be others out there in my position... Even up there on the blog header- "v-curious". So I'm going to start making an effort to record my Split Decision recipes- both successes and failures- to share here.
Once a Month Chicken
For an omnivore like myself, cooking meat for part of a meal only to turn around and not eat it personally is tough. For some vegans I'm sure the nightly handling of meat is tough. My solution? Freezer cooking. I rely on having a stash of frozen pre-cooked meat for last minute addition. My favorite is chicken, because it's relatively cheap, easy to cook, and versatile in many dishes. My once a month chicken recipe yields around 20 cups of cooked shredded chicken, or about 40 servings, with only a few hours of actual meat handling.
So, despite the fact that this is NOT a vegan recipe, I'm going to share it here for future reference when using my Split Decision recipes.
10 lbs chicken leg quarters
Seasoning blend - (I mix this up and keep it in an empty spice shaker bottle: 2 Tbsp salt, 2 Tbsp poultry seasoning, 1 Tbsp lemon pepper seasoning, 1 Tbsp garlic powder, 1 Tbsp onion powder, .5 Tbsp black pepper)
Thaw chicken overnight in refrigerator. Be sure to put it in a plastic tub or LARGE bowl in case the package leaks.
In the morning, skin the chicken and remove as much fat as possible.
Grease a large slow cooker. Mine is a 6 quart and 10 lbs of chicken fills it about 3/4 of the way. Any fuller than that and it will overflow chicken fat and broth all over your kitchen. Trust me, NOT fun. Place the chicken leg quarters in the slow cooker, liberally seasoning each layer with seasoning blend.
Cook on low for about 6 hours. You want the chicken to be just barely falling off the bone, but not falling apart. If you overcook it it will not reheat well after being frozen.
Now comes the hardest part. Remove the chicken to plates and allow it to cool enough to handle. Debone and shred the chicken, being careful not to get any of the small bones in with the shredded meat. Measure out the shredded chicken, package in zipper bags, and freeze. If desired you can add some veggie trimmings to the chicken broth in the slow cooker, cook for an additional 2 hours on high, strain and freeze some high quality chicken stock.
Now sit back and enjoy not having to cook meat for the next 20 meals or so ;-D