Welcome to the new installment of Dinner and a DVD:
Meatless Monday Movies! In addition to our regular Friday feature, we’re going
to also be posting on Mondays. To ease you into the workweek, we’ll feature a
film along with a vegetarian recipe. That way, you can start the week on a high
note, and also do your part to help make the world a bit greener.
Film (with rating): Chicken Run (G)
Studio: DreamWorks SKG
Summary: Rocky the Rooster (voiced by a pre-crazy Mel
Gibson) and Ginger the Hen rebel against the evil Mr. and Mrs. Tweedy in an
attempt to escape the chicken farm and avoid becoming part of a pie.
Review: To welcome in Meatless Monday Movies, I’m going with
a modern classic for the family–and a classic that might make you think twice
about eating chicken. The same studio that brought us the loveable
“Wallace & Gromit” claymation shorts created “Chicken
Run.” In fact, “Chicken Run” is the first feature-length
claymation, or clay animation, film. Despite being rated “G,” the
movie is filled with enough humor and layers of comedy to please all viewers.
Loosely based on “The Great Escape,” the witty actioner “Chicken
Run” pairs up the tough-yet-loveable hen Ginger (voiced by
“Absolutely Fabulous'” Julia Sawalha) and cocky rooster Rocky as they
rally the troops to freedom.
This film, directed by Britain’s Aardman studios cofounder
Peter Lord and “Wallace & Gromit” creator Nick Park, has just
enough British humor to tickle our ribs, yet plenty of slapstick laughs to
please the kids in attendance. Fans of claymation, escape dramas, WWII films or
maybe just chickens will love “Chicken Run.” Even Mel Gibson’s fall
from grace can’t hurt this film. He was on his game as he voiced the flamboyant
Rocky, as was Miranda Richardson as the frightening and evil Mrs. Tweedy.
So enjoy your chicken movie, and chicken-free dinner. Happy
Extra highlight: “Hatching of Chicken Run”
What to serve for dinner: Let’s try an easy meat-free meal:
vegetarian chili (foodnetwork.com).
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onions
1 cup chopped red bell peppers
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 to 3 Serrano peppers, stemmed, seeded, and minced,
depending upon taste
1 medium zucchini, stem ends trimmed and cut into small dice
2 cups fresh corn kernels (about 3 ears)
1 1/2 pounds Portobello mushrooms (about 5 large), stemmed,
wiped clean and cubed
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
4 large tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
3 cups cooked black beans, or canned beans, rinsed and
1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
1 cup vegetable stock, or water
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
Cooked brown rice, accompaniment
Sour cream or strained plain yogurt, garnish
Diced avocado, garnish
Essence, recipe follows, garnish
Chopped green onions, garnish
In a large, heavy pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat.
Add the onions, bell peppers, garlic, and Serrano peppers, and cook, stirring,
until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the zucchini, corn, and mushrooms, and cook,
stirring, until soft and the vegetables give off their liquid and start to
brown around the edges, about 6 minutes. Add the chili powder, cumin, salt and
cayenne, and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes
and stir well. Add the beans, tomato sauce, and vegetable stock, stir well, and
bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring
occasionally, for about 20 minutes.
Remove from the heat and stir in the cilantro. Adjust the
seasoning, to taste.
To serve, place 1/4 cup of brown rice in the bottom of each
bowl. Ladle the chili into the bowls over the rice. Top each serving with a
dollop of sour cream and spoonful of avocado.
What to talk about over dinner: Who was your favorite
chicken? What do you think of claymation? Have you ever watched “Wallace
& Gromit?” What other movies did this one remind you of? How did Mel
Gibson fall so far? What is your favorite British film or television show?
Would you ever go meat-free forever and not just on Mondays? What would you
miss most? How do you think the world will benefit by people giving up meat
just one day a week? Have you seen “Food, Inc.?” What did you think