The price of protein is at an all-time high. As people are eschewing processed food and are embracing healthier eating, the demand for protein has gone crazy. I always shop for my protein at Costco as they always have the lowest prices and freshest product (the latter due to the extraordinary turnover in inventory).
I was looking back at an old post I did about one of my favorite recipes, Straccetti Con Rughetta (http://terrygruggen.blogspot.com/2010/10/straccetti-con-rughetta.html). I wrote the post in October of 2010 and noted at the time that Costco was selling beef tenderloin at $7.99 a pound. This week Costco is selling beef tenderloin at $19.99....and that is still the cheapest game in town!
There is hope on the horizon, however. First, there is a large inventory carryover in the corn market and 2014 is expected to yield record crops. Corn has dropped from $6.00 a bushel down to $4.00. That means that the food needed to fatten cows, pigs and chickens will cost the producers less, which hopefully translates to lower protein costs.
But there are bargains to be had in the world of protein. Costco routinely sells whole chickens for $1.09 a pound. So for less than $4.00 you can buy a whole chicken, roast it and likely get 2 meals out of it. If you are into organic, Costco sells Coleman Organic whole chickens for $2.49 a pound.
And then I'll share a little secret that Damian Hirtz, owner of CrossFit Edina, turned me on to. When you're at Costco, head to the freezer section. In the freezer aisle, Costco is selling Coleman Natural Chicken Breasts. For $16.99 ($13.49 on sale), you can get 4.5 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breasts that are individually wrapped to prevent freezer burn.. Coleman does not use antibiotics, hormones or steroids and their chickens are fed an all-vegetarian diet.
There a a million different things you can do with chicken breasts. I'm going to share one of my favorite Jamie Purviance chicken breast recipes with you. It's incredibly simple. You just grill up four chicken breasts and top them with a fantastic tomato-olive relish. It's fast. It's easy. And it's a magnificent explosion of flavor that is unexpected in the context of a boneless, skinless chicken breast.
For the Rub
1 tablespoon ground fennel seed
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
½ teaspoon granulated garlic
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
For the Chicken
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, about 6 ounces each
Extra-virgin olive oil
For the Relish
¾ cup ¼-inch-diced tomato
⅔ cup ¼-inch-diced celery heart with light green leaves
½ cup kalamata olives, rinsed and cut into ¼-inch dice
½ cup green olives, rinsed and cut into ¼-inch dice
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon dried thyme leaves
- In a small bowl combine the rub ingredients.
- Remove the tenders from the underside of each breast (save for another use). One at a time, place each breast, smooth side down, between 2 sheets of plastic wrap and pound to an even ¼-inch thickness. Lightly brush the chicken with oil and season both sides with the rub.
- Prepare the grill for direct cooking over high heat (450° to 550°F).
- In a large bowl combine the relish ingredients, including salt to taste.
- Brush the cooking grates clean. Grill the chicken, smooth side down, over direct high heat, with the lid closed as much as possible, until no longer pink, 3 to 4 minutes. Turn over and grill just to sear the surface, about 1 minute. Transfer the chicken, with the first grilled sides facing up, to a serving platter or individual plates. Spoon the relish over each piece and squeeze fresh lemon juice on top just before serving.
Wine pairing: A big, oaky California Chardonnay.