Thursday, November 11, 2010

Breaded Chicken and Mac & Cheese

Birthday Dinner #3 was actually on my birthday. I decided that I wanted something I've been thinking about for a few weeks: breaded chicken and macaroni & cheese. Delicious comfort foods. We had a salad of arugula, goat cheese, green olives, carrots, and dried cranberries with the chicken & macaroni & cheese.

We made the macaroni & cheese and the breaded chicken Sunday afternoon. This way all I had to do on my actual birthday was reheat the food in the oven.

MACARONI AND CHEESE

There are so many possibilities with macaroni & cheese. You can add bacon or ham or really, any meat. I've seen it with shrimp/lobster/crab. You can add vegetables like broccoli or peas. My favorite: tomatoes. And then there's the flavor - regular American cheese or cheddar or something more exciting like a gouda or brie or blue cheese? Not to mention seasonings, like pepper or lemon zest or thyme or... the possibilities are endless. One of my favorites is a tallegio, prosciutto, and leek macaroni & cheese (a recipe from an old Bon Appetit).

This time, we kept it simple. We followed our go-to recipe from page 160 of our battered and falling apart paperback Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook.

To start, we sauteed chopped onion in some butter:Meanwhile, SP grated some Velveeta, white cheddar, and parmesan cheeses:And we cooked the elbow pasta:I didn't take any photos while we made the sauce (flour, pepper, milk, cheese). But here's the pasta in the cheese sauce:At this point, the recipe says that one could go ahead and eat the macaroni and cheese (called the 'quick mac & cheese' way) or you can pour it into a casserole dish and bake it until it's hot & bubbly. We decided to pour it into a casserole dish and refrigerate it until Monday evening when we would bake it.Here it is Monday night after baking at 350 for about 40 minutes (longer than the recipe calls for; SP wasn't home when the timer went off so I just let it cook a bit longer in the oven):Mmmm ooey, gooey, creamy, cheesy deliciousness. It's even better with tomatoes, but we forgot to buy tomatoes.

BREADED CHICKEN

The first step is to actually remember to get the chicken out of the freezer the night before. Oops. I guess we were too full after dinner at Wild Rosemary and we forgot about thawing the chicken until around noon on Sunday.We thawed 2 large breasts until around 4 pm and then cubed and rinsed them:First step: coating the chicken chunks with bread crumbs. We used Progresso Italian Style bread Crumbs.Then the chicken chunks are dunked in an egg mixture. For us, we just beat 2 eggs in a bowl, no additional ingredients.Next the chicken chunks get a second coating of bread crumbs:And then they are placed on a plate, patiently awaiting the frying pan.Next we heated the oil. We used vegetable oil. That's just my personal preference. I have eaten chicken fried in canola oil and in peanut oil and I do not like the taste as much as when it's fried in vegetable oil, probably because my grandma and my mom always fried chicken in vegetable oil. This is why I cannot stand chicken from Chick-fil-A -- they use peanut oil. Bleah. I know, I know, many people swear peanut oil is the best, high smoke point, healthier than other oils, blah, blah. Maybe that's all true, but if I'm going to go through this rather time consuming & messy process (the breading process - takes a while and bread crumbs seem to fly everywhere) and then fry something (getting oil splatters all over the counter and range and probably myself) and then deal with disposing of the oil (we cannot just dump it down the drain because of the sewer pump system) then I'm going to do it with the oil that I think makes the tastiest chicken! So vegetable oil it is.Sizzling away:Flip the chunks so that they end up evenly browned on all sides:And when they are nicely browned and cooked through, place them on a paper towel lined platter to drain excess oil:Ohhhh tasty fried breaded chicken chunks:And yes, we did each sample a chunk before heading out to dinner at Silk Elephant. An appetizer, I suppose.

Breaded chicken is one of my favorite dishes. I loved when my mom made it when I was growing up. She always bought chicken tenders or chicken cutlets. She'd fry them just to brown them and then place them on a wire cooling rack set in a cookie sheet and bake them in the oven to finish cooking them. The chicken cubes are small enough that I just fry them, no baking required.

They're really tasty dipped in Dijon mustard. Or in blue cheese dressing. We dipped ours in Dijon.

Yummy comforting food on my birthday -- with leftovers for another 1-2 meals!

1 comment: