Friday, April 09, 2010

All of the Crunch, None of the Grease All Over Your Kitchen

Some days, you just aren't up for creating a big old mess in the kitchen. But you want fried chicken. What, my friends, is a cook to do in this situation?

And therein lies just some of the genius of Oven-Fried Chicken. Meat that's moist and juicy inside; crispy and crunchy outside. A quick cooking time. Minimal ingredients. And no need to break out the splatter screen!

Breaded, fried chicken cutlets are a standard dinner around here; I probably make them once a month. But this recipe introduced me to a few new techniques that will definitely change the way I make the dish. First, you use skinless, boneless chicken thighs instead of breast meat. It's much juicier and more flavorful. The recipe suggests lightly pounding the thighs, which I did by covering the thighs in plastic wrap on a cutting board and then whacking them with the bottom of a saucepan. This gives you more surface area, and more opportunity for crunch. Second, the chicken cooks in a very hot (450-degree) oven, instead of in a sputtering frying pan on your stove. No mess, and a slightly lowered risk of getting your hand or arm burned with oil. Third (and this may seem obvious but it's worth pointing out), the recipe has you season the flour with celery salt, garlic salt and cayenne pepper (I skipped the garlic salt but definitely recommend the cayenne), and use panko instead of plain old bread crumbs.

I love this recipe. Hope you do, too.--S

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

No Guilt Brownies

Every time I make Espresso Brownies for friends, they're a hit. Caffeine and chocolate together in one rich, dense, perk-you-right-up sweet bite--of course they're good. They are easy to make and freeze beautifully. They're ideal with a cold glass of milk. They've been in my repertoire for a few years now.

And yet.
I've never written about these brownies on this blog. I think I was hung up on a sort of embarassing aspect to the recipe. You see, it calls for... oh man, here we go: boxed brownie mix. There. I said it. Duncan Hines Chocolate Lovers, Triple Chocolate Decadence, Betty Crocker Supreme Brownie... take your pick. But to make these delicious brownies, you start with a box of premixed brownie batter. And you know what? I'm okay with that.

I haven't made slice and bake Tollhouse cookies in at least 10 years, and on the rare occasion that I bake a cake, I do it from scratch. Brownies? I have some excellent recipes that have never failed me. But Espresso Brownies, with their 19.8 ounces of brownie mix, are the exception. You amp them up with semisweet choclate chips and espresso powder, Cake Mix Doctor style, and then top them with an espresso glaze. They're pretty decadent.
Lose the guilt. Eat the brownies.--S