Last night it was American food. Good old-fashioned Gulf Coast grub. We had baked chicken, macaroni and cheese, and greens.
It was EASY. You know those people who talk about burning water? Here is a weeknight dinner even they can cook! Here it is in easy steps…
(Don’t be scuured. Most of the longer steps are filled with parenthetical notes. I promise they’re easy.)
1. Defrost the chicken. If your chicken is not frozen, skip ahead to 2.
2. Marinate the chicken in Allegro’s Hot and Spicy Marinade. This stuff is the bomb. It works great with everything. Venison is a particular fave of Justin and mine. Most stores carry it or its less spicy cousin. The spicy one is not that spicy though. Let it soak this up for 15 or 20 minutes. (You can do this for up to 4 hours. If you want to do it all day I would recommend diluting the marinade 1:1 with water, or else it can get a little salty.) While it’s soaking, preheat the oven to 350°F.
3. Use two paper plates. Crack an egg on one and scramble it around. Pour about a handful of breadcrumbs per piece of chicken on the other, and season them up. I like lemon pepper, plain pepper, cayenne, oregano… Basically this is your chance to go to town with any herbs or spices you like. Garlic powder, anyone?
4. Now, there is a proper way to do this and the way I do this, which requires substantially less time, resources, and dirtying of dishes (or paper plates). If you feel like being fancy (or culinarily correct), this is where you would dump some flour out onto a third paper plate and dredge the chicken in that first. I don’t think it matters enough to bother so I just go straight into the egg and straight into the crumbs. (Note: Make sure you mix the spices in. I had a lot of cayenne sitting right on top once and surprised a guest because all the spice ended up on their piece. Oops.) Then put the chicken smooth side up on a sprayed pan. Lather. Rinse. Repeat as needed. Pop it in the oven.
5. Put water in the mac pan and get the bowl with the milk, “cheese,” and butter ready. (I feel bad for all ya’ll who thought this would be fancy macaroni and cheese. This is the blue box kind. At Foodarama, the off brand is on sale every third week for 35¢ per box. There is a little less in there, but seeing as it’s a side dish, that doesn’t matter so much. I’m all for generic.) Open the can of greens (yes, the can… preferably a big can at that. You don’t want to run out of greens. Substitute green beans, peas, or whatever vegetable blows your skirt up. If you’re worried about sodium, rinse the canned veggies in a colander or use frozen ones. Frozen cut okra goes especially well in a pan with a can of diced tomatoes or RoTel. More on that some other time.) and toss it in a pan. Don’t turn that on. Walk away.
6. Go relax for ten minutes. 😉
7. Check the chicken. Turn it around in the oven if you need to. (I need to. My oven is vintage. It’s got little triangles on it, and the 1960’s equivalent of a popcorn button.) Turn on the mac water. Go relax for another 5.
8. Put the mac in the water and turn the greens on medium low heat. (Medium high if you’re using my favorite frozen okra!) Set the table, complete with trivets. * Check the noodles. If they’re done continue. If not, go give boo a kiss (you can give him more kisses, but don’t get too involved because you might be in danger of forgetting the noodles on the stove.) and repeat from * until you can move on. Boo will like this step, especially if you’re quick with setting the table.
9. Drain the noodles. Mix them with the sauce stuff. On the table it goes. Put the greens on a trivet on the table. Get the chicken out (total cooking time should have been around thirty minutes; cut in and make sure the pink is gone) and put it on the other trivet.
10. Ring the dinner bell. Stand at the stairs and yell. Do whatever it is you do, girl, cause I know you do it well.
11. Bon Appetit. Other things you can put on the table are hot sauce and ranch dressing for the greens and chicken. If that’s really not enough food for your family make a salad. Cut up a head of lettuce and throw in some cherry tomatoes… add some grated carrots if you’re feeling really fancy. See? Easy pesy.
Ta-da! Dinner in about thirty-two minutes, if you don’t count marinating time. 🙂
I hope you enjoyed my dinner tutorial. Let me know! I can start doing them once a week or something. Dinner in eleven steps or less type thing.