CHICKEN MONTH:  CELEBRATE WITH CAPRESE GRILLED CHICKEN!

While September is often associated with the end of the summer, back-to-school shopping, and football, it’s also National Chicken Month in the U.S. That’s right; for more than 20 years, thanks to the National Chicken Council, there really has been a full month devoted to one of the most versatile and affordable sources of protein!

Even though summer is coming to a close, it’s never too late to fire up the grill.  This is one of my favorite grilled chicken recipes.  It is great served with a side of pasta, garden salad and white wine!

caprese-grilled-chicken.Caprese Grilled Chicken

Ingredients

Marinade:
¾ cup balsamic vinegar
½ cup water
1 tsp minced onion
½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
½ tsp minced garlic

Balsamic Glaze:
6 tbsp balsamic vinegar

6 boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper
8 oz fresh mozzarella, sliced
2 roma tomatoes, sliced
¼ cup basil, chopped

Directions:

Whisk together the balsamic vinegar, water, onion, red pepper flakes, and garlic in a bowl, and pour into a gallon Ziploc bag. Add the chicken breasts, coat with the marinade, squeeze out excess air, and seal the bag. Marinate in the refrigerator 30 minutes to overnight.

Heat balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Bring to a boil then reduce heat and allow to simmer, stirring occasionally, until vinegar has reduced by half.  Remove from heat and set aside.

Brush grill grates lightly with oil and pre-heat grill to medium-high heat.

Remove chicken from marinade and season with salt and pepper.  Transfer chicken to preheated grill and cook until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees (time will vary based on thickness of chicken breasts, anywhere from 10-20 minutes.)

Top each chicken breast with one slice of fresh mozzarella and a slice of tomato.  Sprinkle chopped, fresh basil over chicken and then drizzle with balsamic reduction.

Becky FinfrockBecky Finfrock
ICGA/ICMB Communications Assistant

THERE IS A NEW MEAT-NAMING SYSTEM IN TOWN!

Just in time for grilling season, you will start seeing some changes to how meat at the grocery store is labeled. The USDA has approved this new labeling system (created by NCBA and the National Pork Board) that aims to make meat perusing in the store easier for customers. For the past 40 years or so, meat labels have been anatomically based- describing where that cut is located on the animal’s body. So, for those customers that didn’t grow up on a livestock farm or enroll in a meat science class in college, how does knowing where a cut of meat came from help them know what they are getting or how to cook it?

The new labeling system will identify species, whether the meat is from the chuck, loin, rib or round, the retail cut name, and provide cooking instructions to the buyer. The biggest change is expected to be in pork chop labeling. Thanks to modern pork production methods, trichinosis is no longer a problem so the cooking temperature of pork was lowered in 2011. This means pork chops can be cooked similar to steaks now, so they will be naming different pork loin cuts more similarly to beef steak cuts (i.e. ribeye, sirloin, New York, etc.) Hopefully, this information will be helpful to customers when browsing meat at the grocery store.

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This article explains in greater detail the changes that we can expect to see on meat labels: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/04/03/new-meat-cut-names/2049713/

I think this is a good idea based on consumer research done by the National Pork Board and the NCBA Beef Checkoff program. As we learn more and more about what our urban consumers are not understanding and the importance of communicating with all of our customers, it is changes like this that are going to help everyone be on the same page. We should start seeing label changes this summer, so it will be interesting to see everyone’s reaction to it!

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Rosalie Sanderson
Membership Administrative Assistant