I am vegetarian for ethical reasons. The most important reason is I disagree with the meat production industry today. Factory farming is environmentally unsustainable, unhealthy, often tied up with horrible working conditions, and almost always with animal cruelty. But I’m not going to write an extensive essay about this, if you don’t believe me, you’ve probably been living under a rock, and I suggest you type factory farm chicken into google and take a look.
I am vegetarian because I want to see a shift back to traditional, small to medium scale animal farming systems such as family farms or cooperatives. These are often shown to be more sustainable, practice better animal welfare standards and offer fairer working conditions. Which brings me to why I sometimes eat chicken.
As you probably know by now, a lot of my recipes are based on what I find at the local feria (street market). Today we walked passed an “abuelita” (Chilean for little grandma) selling whole, plucked chickens that she raised at her house. You could tell that they weren’t commercial chickens she was trying to pass off as home grown, because the fat appeared yellow. This is caused by the presence of beta carotene indicating that the chickens had higher amounts of nutrients in their diets, which corresponds with more access to fresh food i.e. pasture and veggie scraps. This is the look of a true free-range chook which hasn’t been living in a packed shed with only the space of an A4 piece of paper to move around in for the entirety of its life.
I am a realist. I don’t expect the whole world to turn vegetarian. But I would hate to see a world where the only option after vegetarianism is meat from multi-national, highly industrial, large scale, factory farms that destroy the environment and reduce the lives of animals to quotas on a production line.
I don’t believe that buying chicken from that woman in the street is against my vegetarian ethics, in fact, not buying chicken from her would be less in line with them! I buy meat from small scale producers because I want those sorts of farms to exist, and to continue to exist.
Cazuela de Pollo (Chicken Cazuela)
Cazuela de Pollo (chicken cazuela) is a traditional Chilean dish. It is derived from the Spanish cazuela, left over from the colonial days. There is a specific order to eating a cazuela, typically Chileans will drink the broth first and then eat the meat and vegetables. This dish is a regular meal in the country side and also commonly made with beef.
- 1 Whole chicken – if you are in Australia, I suggest Inglewood Chicken, as a sustainable, ethical option
- 4 cloves of garlic, whole but crushed to release the flavour
- Half an onion, thickly sliced
- Handful of carrot, sliced
- Handful of red capsicum, sliced
- 6 small potatoes
- 1 large cob of corn, cut into 6 pieces
- 6 portions of pumpkin with skin
- Small handful of rice
- 1 heaped tsp of dried oregano
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- Half a vegetable stock cube
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
Prepare the chicken by removing the skin and fat.* Cut into parts (wings, breast, thighs etc.) and set aside. Sautee onion and garlic in olive oil until onion is translucent. Add the chicken and fry until white all over. Add carrot, capsicum, potato, pumpkin, rice, stock, herbs and spices along with enough boiling water to cover everything. Cook for about 30 – 40 minutes on low heat. When potatoes are just cooked, add corn and cook for a further 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
To serve, each bowl should have 1 potato, one portion of pumpkin, 1 piece of corn, 1 portion of chicken and the bowl filled with the broth. This recipe serves 6.
*Depending on how fatty you want the broth to be more or less fat can be removed.