Shaking and Baking Chicken with Valerie a.k.a. Marge, your cooking has two moves…

Just got through watching coverage on the NHL trade deadline.  The Nashville Predators are the winners of this one.  But then that’s what I thought about the Washington Capitals after this past Free Agency and they took a big ol’ Boudreau when the season started.  Anyhow, enough hockey.  Let’s get talking about a meal that happened a week ago.

My friend Valerie has been on the east coast since we graduated high school and recently returned after completing graduate school in Technical Production for Theater.  She learned much of her cooking growing up from her mother and grandmother.  The skills she learned were put to good use when she went off to college and had to fend for herself.  She told me that she specialized in quick cheap meals.  Right up my alley!

When she came over, we had no idea what the plan was, so she did the smart thing and brought over several cook books

Ultimately, we decided on one given to Valerie by her mother.  It was a healthy recipe for shake and bake chicken!  I love chicken.  I’ve never tried shake and bake but the concept always enthralled me.  Plus, each drumstick only consisted of 5 weight watcher points per stick.  If you asked me now what that meant, I’d probably sound like Ted Stevens talking about the Internet.  But this is good.  Not only because it’s a low number in weight watcher points, but also because my current repertoire of recipes usually contain copious amounts of cheese and pasta.  Great for taste, not so great for my midsection and other peoples’ eyes.

On top of that, we also decided on a side dish:  baked sweet potatoes and onions.  Valerie is the daughter of the Sweet Potato Queen (Halloween, yo) and I have a deep-rooted love for sweet potatoes (see what I did there?) so this seemed like a fantastic side dish we could both agree on.

After a short trip to Safeway, we came away with the ingredients that I didn’t already have at my place.

Shake and Bake Chicken:

-3 cups corn flakes cereal, crushed
-1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
-1/2 tsp salt
-1/4 to 1/2 tsp ground red pepper
-1/4 tsp pepper
-3/4 cup fat free buttermilk
-10 Drumsticks (recipe calls for 8, we used 10)
-vegetable cooking spray

Sweet Potatoes and Onions:

-4 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1.5″ cubes
-2 medium onions, cut into eighths
-1/4 cup butter melted
-1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
-1/4 cup coarsely chopped pecans
-1 tsp dried sage leaves

We started by taking the chicken out of the bag and defrosting the drumsticks.  This sparked a debate.  I’ve always defrosted inside the bag and placed the bag in a pot of hot water.  Valerie learned that you always used cold water.  We had just put a bunch of raw chicken in water, but felt we still needed this question answered.  Using a series of tubes, we found this website: http://www.fsis.usda.gov/Fact_Sheets/Big_Thaw/.  The correct answer: neither.  Here is some good information quoted from this site:

Cold Water Thawing
This method is faster than refrigerator thawing but requires more attention. The food must be in a leak-proof package or plastic bag. If the bag leaks, bacteria from the air or surrounding environment could be introduced into the food. Also, the meat tissue may absorb water, resulting in a watery product.

The bag should be submerged in cold tap water, changing the water every 30 minutes so it continues to thaw. Small packages of meat, poultry or seafood — about a pound — may thaw in an hour or less. A 3-to 4-pound package may take 2 to 3 hours. For whole turkeys, estimate about 30 minutes per pound. If thawed completely, the food must be cooked immediately.

Foods thawed by the cold water method should be cooked before refreezing.

Note: Apparently at a temperature of above 140 degrees, bacteria rapidly multiples.  Seeing as how I always defrosted with hot water, I’m grateful I’m not a bloated man blob of salmonella being used like a Tauntaun to keep people warm.

Whilst the chicken defrosted, we did everything else.  First, shake and bake mixture!  I had much fun with this.  We threw in the corn flakes into the chicken bag (cleaned out) and Valerie let me go all Douglas Murray on them.

I think it’s safe to say I’ll be making this on my own again at some point if only to destroy corn flakes again.  After this, we added the salt, pepper, red pepper, and Parmesan.

Stop!  Time warp!: At this point the chicken was still defrosting so we worked on the sweet potato dish, but I’ll continue talking about the chicken preparation so this blog makes sense.  This ain’t no Quentin Tarantino blog.

We took the butter milk and put it in a large bowl.  This was the first time I had used buttermilk in a recipe so I wasn’t used to the sour smell.  Apparently this is normal.  Had I not known this, there would have been a lot of buttermilk in the garbage at my place.  Plus I didn’t know buttermilk was used for sticky purposes; I had always used eggs.

Amir: Did you bring that measuring cup?

Valerie: No, I found it in your cabinet.

Amir: COOL!

Apparently I have cooking utensils I did not know I have.  Not sure if it’s from current roommates or old roommate.  Either way, I’m grateful that I have it.

So post-defrost, we got to work on the chicken.  We had to remove the skin.  You see, before this meal, I generally avoided any kind of meat that had bones.  I hated bony meat.  I hate the bone, I hate the cartilage, I hated it.  Did I mention that I didn’t like it?  So I always purchased boneless, skinless chicken breasts.  Simple pimple, no mess.  I didn’t have that luxury here.  Valerie and I had the pleasure of peeling the skin off each drumstick.

Removing the skin reminded me of the movie “Waiting.”  Guess what part.

Then there was dipping in buttermilk:

And then, one drumstick at a time, I did the dirty work.

I think it’s safe to say that the shaking is the climax of any shake and bake meal.  You know.  Aside from the meal.

Then we put the finished tray in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Potato dish!  So you know what that means??  Let’s do the time warp agaaaaain!

Sweet potatoes!  One thing my mom always had me do when I was cooking as a kid was peel the vegetables.  So four sweet potatoes?  I can do those blindfolded and behind my back.

Betty Crocker said for the potatoes to be cut in cubes, so as directed by Val, I cut them into thick slices and cut those slices into fourths.

I didn’t realize 4 pounds of sweet potatoes would be so much.  Then again, I didn’t know we would be making a whole tray of sweet potatoes and onions.

We chopped up an onion and a half.  Little did we know that one onion would have easily been enough.  But you know what they say, don’t cry over chopped onion (amirite, guys?)

Then we mixed the potatoes and onions in a 13″x9″ tray and popped it in the oven with the chicken.

Oven lights have to be one of the better inventions of the 20th century.

While the two dishes were baking, we made the mixture of the sweet potato dish.  It consisted of brown sugar, dried sage leaves, and the chopped walnuts.

And we mixed it in part way though the baking process and threw the butter in there too.

And half an hour later, we had our finished products.

We ate like carnivores that day.

What I learned:

I need to learn to defrost differently.  Or, if I plan my meals ahead, I can just put stuff from the freezer to the fridge, like normal people do.  Furthermore, I’m going to blame any ailment that I succumb to on my past defrosting habits.  Allergies?  That chicken I ate from last year.  Cold?  Homemade hamburgers.  Attacked by dog?  Slightly raw steak.  He smelled it in my tummy!

Also, I’m pretty obsessed with sweet potato fries.  Whenever I go to a restaurant and they have them, I have to order them (the Tied House in Mountain View has the best ones.)  But after learning how easy it was to prepare this potato dish, I’m pretty sure I can do the fries on my own.  I’m going to save oodles!

Also Scott Howson is a terrible boss.  I could do a better job than him at managing a team.  Hopefully this summer Rick Nash becomes a San Jose Shark and Scott Howson will lose his job.

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One thought on “Shaking and Baking Chicken with Valerie a.k.a. Marge, your cooking has two moves…

  1. Pingback: Shaked n Baked | Suburbhomestead's Blog

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