Chicken Contest

A few weeks ago Justin and I were talking about where we were going to eat for dinner, and no one wanted to choose. This is a common occurrence with us. The common solution, which Justin suggested then, was rock-paper-scissors. Whoever lost had to decide where we were going AND pay. I “lost.” I chose Popeye’s. I won.

That night, the chicken contest was born. We decided to try all the fried chicken we could find and decide what was best. Before you read on, I should warn you: this contest, if you can even call it that, is completely arbitrary and has no rules. The reliability and validity of our findings are poor, and our methods are questionable. If you decide to go by something we say, you do so at your own peril. ๐Ÿ™‚

Since that Saturday, we have been eating fried chicken for lunch or dinner every Saturday. Popeye’s was first, and it was delectable.The biscuits were buttery, the red beans and rice were spicy, and the chicken was juicy, crispy, and good good good! The people who work at the Popeye’s on Shepherd at W 11th are incredibly nice. The whole shebang constitutes a pleasant dining experience. I was truly delighted with my choice and purchase. I won like Charlie Sheen.

I think one of the reasons I like Popeye’s is that it’s the chicken I grew up on. When we were growing up, Elise knew two kinds of chicken: chicken on the grill (which is exactly what it sounds like) and chicken on the bone (FRIED chicken!). That’s still one of my favorite Elise-isms. She has so many good ones.ย When we ate chicken on the bone we either ate it at home, when Dad made it, or at Popeye’s. Dad does make some tasty fried chicken, for the record. I can eat a LOT of it. Yum. Dad, if you’re reading this, I’m saying nothing more than, “You have not made fried chicken in a long time, and you know we all really like it when you do.” He also makes the world’s best potato pancakes. There’s a good story about those, but I am starting on a tangent.

Back to the chicken contest.

The next week we went to KFC, and it was gross. I mean it. Disgusting. The chicken was soggy! Literally. Soggy. Ew. The gravy (which I had to try, because Cartman on Southpark is sooo obsessed with it) was nasty. The quality of service was poor. I mean, Justin asked for a breast and a thigh (hehehe, I know I’m like an 11 year old but that’s still funny to me!), and they couldn’t even do that! The girl was downright rude! Everything was just gross. I don’t ever think I will go back.

I wanted to write a letter to Southpark telling the producers that Cartman has no logical reason to be obsessed with such a terrible place. I mean, remember the episode where the guys get mad at Cartman because he eats all the skin off the bucket of chicken, and he says, “I don’t get what ya’ll are mad at I left you the good part,” after they come back from helping Stan’s mom bring in groceries? Directly after that he leaves. Well, that’s pretty bad. Hilarious yes, but awful. Now imagine that the chicken skin was soggy. THE HORROR!

I wanted to write another letter to Popeye’s, offering my services to their marketing team. If they don’t want to hire me, that’s fine, but they need to hire someone. I mean, how is KFC beating them?! How is it that Popeye’s is that much better, and people still eat at KFC?! Marketing! Everyone knows KFC: the face, the jingle, but of the four people I polled, all of whom are serious Popeye’s fans, no one could sing, “Love that chicken from POPEYE’S!” No one! It’s kind of sad, really. If someone at Popeye’s reads this, I would be happy to work for ya’ll and help turn this thing around.

KFC doesn’t deserve a letter.

Last week was by far the most interesting in the contest yet: Justin likes Church’s the most now. That’s right. Church’s beat out Popeye’s in a national spicy recipe taste test, and Justin agrees with the majority! I liked the chicken. It was about the same as Popeye’s for me. I also liked that they had okra. I love okra. What I was unimpressed with (which Justin liked) were the red beans. I thought they were lacking. Justin really liked them, though, and they weren’t bad, but they weren’t my favorite.

The biscuits at Church’s, however, were really good. They put honey on them as part of the baking process. I am a huge fan. They were some of the yummiest biscuits I’ve ever had. They also looked like homemade biscuits: nice and ugly. Nothing like some good homestyle cooking. I wonder if I can figure out how to duplicate that…

What with both the chicken and biscuits being delectable, I’d say I am also a Church’s fan. I guess the best way to put it is this: if I wanted chicken, I wouldn’t pass up a Church’s to get to a Popeye’s. I would pass up KFC to get to anything else.

On a side note, I had surgery last week, and I was still sort of on pain killers when we ate Church’s, so my opinion is most likely a little skewed. That’s also why I didn’t write on the blog at all. Sorry about that, but everything I wrote was complete nonsense. Think Alice In Wonderland. I actually decided to work on a story, and wrote a good 2500 words on it, but the next day re-read it and had to delete delete delete. I had, in my delerium, decided to add magic to the plot. Nikki got a real kick out of that when I told her.ย Narrator foul. ๐Ÿ™‚

Tomorrow should be good. Justin and I are going to try Hartz Chicken Buffet. Rod and Zsazsa said they have eaten there several times and that it’s pretty good. We’ll see about that! Popeye’s still reigns supreme for me.

What’s for dinner? : The answer in 11 EASY steps!

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 350ยฐF.

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 35ยข 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. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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. ๐Ÿ™‚

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.