my KETO journey – chicken bundles

Are we weary yet of chicken breast fried, baked, braised, roasted, fricasseed or chicken legs and thighs coated with crushed pork rinds and baked?  Are ya?  This keto challenge can be daunting when meal planning is on the agenda.  Can’t have this, no, can’t eat that, whatever happened to the nice side dish of brown rice or pasta?  Hmmm, out of necessity, new recipes are born.

I have always loved porcupines.  That was my grandmother’s name for cabbage bundles she created with ground beef and rice or ground pork and rice.  Of course by the time she added the onion, herbs and spices and then simmered those bundles in a zesty tomato sauce, all hands were on the dinner table waiting impatiently for her bowls of porcupines.  Served with a slice of homemade bread – Lord, it don’t get any better than that.

Ground chicken!  Yep, that’s right.  Grandma’s recipe can be just as delicious with ground chicken, a meat about half the price of ground beef.  With the keto plan we are no longer limited to lean breast meat.  No, just go ahead and enjoy the fat-enhanced flavor of dark chicken meat.  Of course, organic is a nice choice, but, we can’t always choose the organics which usually cost twice as much.

HERE ARE THE INGREDIENTS
  • 1 lb ground chicken preferably dark meat and breast meat
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can finely diced tomatoes
  • 1 carrot chopped
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 1 stalk celery chopped including leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic chopped
  • 4 large outer cabbage leaves (for 2 servings)
  • 3-4 tbs butter (yes, I said tablespoons – butter is now our friend)
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 12 toothpicks
  • salt and pepper to taste

If you have fresh herbs, that’s wonderful.  Just remember to adjust your amounts.

DIRECTIONS
  1. Start with the cabbage by carefully removing intact 4 of the outer leaves
  2. Place them in a steamer basket and steam until barely tender.  You want the leaves to be pliable but not mushy.
  3. In a bowl mix the chicken, onions, garlic, carrot, celery, thyme, parsley, salt and pepper.
  4. Place the butter to melt in a medium sized saucepot.
  5. Take each cabbage leaf, spoon 1/4 of the meat mixture onto the leaf and wrap into square bundles with the denser rib section as the last overlap.  Insert 3 toothpicks into each bundle.
  6. The butter, having melted over a medium high heat, is now ready to saute the bundles about 5 minutes.
  7. Remove the bundles to a plate and add the tomatoes, the basil and oregano to the saucepot allowing the mixture to come to a boil.
  8. Return the chicken bundles, reduce the heat to a low simmer and cook 30 to 45 minutes, basting a few times with the tomato sauce.

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