Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Fried Chicken and Waffles

I've always thought this combination sounded interesting. This evening as I was looking in the freezer and trying to decide what to cook I saw our frozen waffles (that we almost never make). I just decided what the heck, I'll give it a shot. I know, I know, some of you are saying to yourself frozen waffles? really? Yes. Really.

Let's start with the fried chicken. The first thing to do is get some oil on the stove. I put about what I thought was an inch of canola oil in my cast iron pan and turned the heat on medium. This way the oil can heat up as you prepare the chicken.

I defrosted four chicken thighs (bone in) and batter them very simply. If you've ever been in a spice slump I recommend Emeril's Essence. It's wonderful. I mixed a tablespoon of that into 1 cup of flour which I put in a big Ziploc bag. Shake it up and then removed about 3-4 tablespoons to use later. Add the chicken one at a time to coat it and lay it on a baking rack. I don't have a baking rack so I used one of the shelves in my stove and put it over the sink. Practical and very easy to clean up! Let it sit about 10 minutes. (This is so it can get to room temperature which makes it fry a little more even!)

Flick some water into you oil and if it sizzles it's ready! I added all four chicken thighs. I then discovered I had way too much oil as it spilled all over the stove. Oh well, more clean up. I let it cook ten minutes on each side. Right before flipping, I gave each piece some good pierces to make sure they'd cook all the way through. When they were done I moved them back to the make shift baking rack (over the sink still) and let them drain oil off.

I know I've mentioned before and yes I know it's odd, but I don't really care for maple syrup. I knew I didn't want to cover the chicken and waffles in it. So I had this frying pan with oil and bits of chicken and the leftover flour I put aside...gravy! I dumped nearly all the oil out, leaving about 3-4 tablespoons I would guess. I added the seasoned flour I set aside early and scraped the pan to get all the good drippings into the mixture. Once it was well mixed I slowly added a cup of milk, stirring the whole time. Also, I probably should mention I had turned the heat off. The cast iron pan stays hot enough to make this without any further heat. It will thicken pretty quickly and it will be slightly orange from the seasoning but don't worry. I put a piece of chicken over two of my freezer to toaster waffles and covered them with gravy. I don't think even I was expecting it to taste as fabulous as it did! Definitely recommend it for future meals!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Cool Ranch Experiment

I knew coming home today that I was going to make chicken. I also knew I wanted to do something different. Yesterday Josiah was snacking on Cool Ranch Doritos and I was contemplating trying to make them from home (something I still plan on trying!) but then thought to myself, "what if I make cool ranch chicken?"
So that's exactly what I did. I came home and made oven fried chicken with cool ranch Doritos. Let me start with the spicy potato wedges though. These wedges might be one of my favorite things I've gotten from Down Home with the Neely's. The recipe is super simple. Mix 1/3 cup of melted butter and olive oil, add a tablespoon of seasoned salt and a teaspoon of cayenne pepper. Toss 3-4 potatoes cut into wedges in the mix and spread them out on a cookie sheet. Their recipe calls for mixing fresh parsley and grated Parmesan cheese as well. I am stingy with my freshly grated Parmesan so I grate that over the wedges once they're on the cookie sheet and then I sprinkle dried parsley on them. Stick them in the oven for 50 minutes at 450. Since I was cooking chicken at the same time I cooked them at 400 today.
When you finish with the wedges there is always a lot of the oil mix left over. If you have a lipped cookie sheet you can poor the oil over the wedges. I decided to use the mix as a base for the chicken. I put four half chicken breasts in it and made sure they were evenly coated. There weren't many chips left in the bag but I went ahead and put them in a big Ziploc bag anyway and then crushed them up. I added the chicken one at a time and shook the bag until each piece was well coated. Into a foiled pan they went and they baked for 50 minutesas well.
About half way through baking the potato wedges need to be flipped. At that time I also turned the heat down to 375. Our oven tends to get hotter than most so that may not be necessary should you try this. When it was done I was a little nervous, I have to admit. I did mention in my very first post that about 1 in every 3 to 4 creative attempts of mine fail. Alas, I chalk this one up not so much as failure, but it didn't accomplish what I really wanted. I wanted more ranch flavor. It was good though. The chicken was really moist and the chips were crunchy and did maintain their flavor. Next time I think I'll add dry ranch mix. It sure did look pretty though :-)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Going all Out

Josiah's been giving me grief for the last week about my lack of cooking lately. Today I decided to surprise him by going all out. Can you guess what I made by the ingredients in this picture?

I made Meatloaf! I used 2lbs ground beef, Worcestershire, ground sage, garlic powder, ground mustard, salt, pepper and breadcrumbs. Plus, my little secret ingredient. I used egg and milk to make it a mixture, covered it in ketchup and put it in the oven. Easy.

I don't think you can make meatloaf and not have mashed potatoes. My mashed potatoes are pretty simple. I salt water and boil the potatoes and mash them with a lot of butter. The next best thing after the meatloaf though, were the cheddar and herb biscuits from scratch. I love the Neely's on the Food Network and I use their recipe. They've got a little cayenne pepper for a kick. Yum!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Smoked Ribs!

Today I made ribs on the grill for the very first time. They looked beautiful. Of course, I do nothing simple. I found a recipe for a Memphis style dry rub and coated both sides of the ribs. Also, this is a full slab of spare ribs, if you're curious about the cut. I used a couple tablespoons of oil and rubbed everything in well. I let them sit in the fridge for an hour.

While the ribs marinaded, I got the grill set up. The grill was set up for indirect heat because the best way to cook ribs is slow roasted. I also got some hickory wood chips. Once the coals were lit I let the grill sit and build some heat. Everything I read about cooking ribs said you want to get them cooking at about 225 degrees. I even found a website that explains how to calibrate your grill to determine how much heat you get with the amount of coals you have and whether one side cooks hotter than the other...I didn't do any of that. I put the coals on and let it sit until the coals were white. I added some hickory wood chips and put the ribs on. I added a pan of water to the coal side to keep moisture in while cooking. The only time I opened the grill was to add more water to the pan. I let them cook 5 hours. Another thing I read was that your ribs are done when you pick them up and the bark (the black, crispy coating) cracks. I'm not really a rib connoisseur so I really don't know how they compared. I liked them though. I thought the flavor was good and they were really moist. I only coated them with a thin layer of BBQ sauce. Probably wouldn't hurt to add some more as I personally think BBQ sauce makes just about everything better.