Oven Fried Chicken and Tomato Pasta (AKA let's reinvent the Kraft Pizza Box)

Oven Fried Chicken and Tomato Pasta

  • Servings: 4-8
  • Difficulty: medium
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Ingredients

  • 1 Kraft Pizza Kit
  • 10 chicken drumsticks
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 7 large mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup + 2 Tbsps butter, melted
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 14 cherry tomatoes, cut in pieces
  • 1/4 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp freeze dried basil
  • 2 Tbsps red wine
  • 150 g (5.5 oz) dried pasta, linguine
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions


Preheat oven to 425ºF/220ºC. Place 1/4 cup of butter in large glass baking dish and place in the oven until its melted. Remove from oven. Remove items from kit. Remove 1.5 cups from pizza dough mix, place the rest of the mix in a bowl. Add herb packet and cheese packet, garlic powder and salt, mixing well. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs, with 1 tablespoon of water. Dip the drumsticks one at a time, from the egg wash, to powder mix, back to eggs, back to powder, then place in the melted butter in the baking dish. Drizzle remaining 2 tablespoons butter over chicken in dish. Bake in oven for 35 minutes, then remove and turn carefully. Put back in the oven for 15 more minutes, or until internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165ºF/75ºC. Sauté garlic in a pan in the olive oil until fragrant. Add the mushrooms and cook. Add tomatoes, sauce from the can in the kit, oregano, basil and wine, and cook down. Cook pasta in a pot of boiling water. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water and add to the sauce, allow it to cook down further. Drain pasta. Mix the pasta with the sauce. Serve.

And now for the details…

We are at day 7 of 14 in isolation, and I am at day 7 of my quarantine challenge to post a new recipe every day. In the last post, I had talked about the Kraft Pizza Kit I received as a gag gift from a friend of ours while we are in isolation. The kit is something we both remember eating when we were young, and I think he was basically implying that since I am in isolation, I must be desperate enough to use the kit. And so this… this post is for you Marcus. I have reimagined the Kraft pizza box into oven fried chicken and pasta.

Let’s get right into it.

Start by preheating the oven to 425ºF/200ºC.

Let’s take a look at the contents of our pizza box: the dough mix, the herb packet, the cheese packet, and the sauce can.

Start by removing 1.5 cups out of the dough mix from the package and set it aside. Aside for what? No idea. From what I can see from the ingredients, the dough mix is pretty much Bisquick. So I guess use it as a replacement for that? Or………? *blank stare* The rest of the package goes into a bowl, along with the herb packet, the cheese packet, garlic powder, and salt. Mix these together well with a fork or whisk until they are mixed fully.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs with one tablespoon of water to make an egg wash for the chicken.

Before moving on, melt 1/4 cup of the butter in a large glass baking dish in the oven. Once melted, take it out, and set it to the side to start placing the chicken in.

We will be double dipping the chicken to get a nice crust for the oven fry. Dip one of the drumsticks in the egg wash, coating completely. Then place it in in the powder mix, turning to coat. Place it back in the egg wash, coat, and then back again into the powder mix, coat. Place the drumstick in the baking dish. Repeat this procedure with all the chicken pieces until they have all been coated.

Once all the drumsticks have been coated and placed in the dish, melt another 2 tablespoons of butter in a small dish, and drizzle it over the drumsticks. Place the drumsticks in the oven for 35 minutes.

After 35 minutes, remove the chicken from the oven, and carefully turn the drumsticks over, trying to gingerly make the flip without tearing the skin or crust on the chicken. I didn’t have success with all the pieces, but 80% is still a passing grade, right?

Place back in the oven and cook for another 15 minutes, or until the inside of the chicken registers at 165ºF/75ºC, making sure to not touch the bone with the thermometer.

In the last 15 minutes, we will cook our pasta and sauce. Sauté the garlic in the olive oil in a large pan until the garlic is fragrant, then add the mushrooms. Usually this is where I would suggest adding salt to help the mushrooms release their liquid, but the sauce in the kit is plenty salty, so we will not be adding any additional salt. If the pan gets too dry before the mushrooms start releasing liquid, add a splash of broth or water to keep the mushrooms and garlic from burning. Once the mushrooms are cooked, add the tomatoes, and stir.

Finally, add the sauce from the can, the oregano and basil, and red wine, using your spoon to stir up any caramelization that formed in the bottom of the pan to absorb back into the sauce.

While the sauce is cooking, cook the pasta in salted water until al dente. Just before removing the pasta from the stove, add 1/2 cup of the pasta water to the sauce, mixing it in. Then, drain the pasta, and add it to the pan with the sauce, stirring well. Let the pasta and sauce cook for a short while more until thick.

When the chicken is done, remove it from the oven. Plate your chicken and pasta. I also cooked some broccoli in a separate dish while my chicken was cooking for some added greenery (just for you Mark, I knew you’d like that).

Serve and enjoy.

Happy eating.

Pasta with Ragù (Meat Sauce)

Pasta with Ragù (Meat Sauce)

  • Servings: 4-8
  • Difficulty: easy-medium
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Ingredients

  • 5 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 Tbsps olive oil
  • 900g ground meat (beef, pork, turkey, chicken, elk, bison)
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 150 ml (5.5 oz) tomato paste
  • 800 ml (27 oz) canned tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup beef broth
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • dash nutmeg
  • dash oregano
  • 4 cups dried pasta
  • 1/2 cup pasta water (reserved)
  • Salt and white pepper, to taste

Directions

Add the olive oil to a large heavy-bottomed pot and heat on medium high. Add onion and garlic, sautéing until onions have softened and garlic is fragrant. Add the meat to the pot, and sauté, breaking the meat apart as it cooks. Add wine, cook until the liquid is gone. Add tomato paste and stir, mixing completely. Add the dash of oregano and nutmeg. Add beef broth, milk, and tomatoes and stir well. Turn the heat down to medium and cook for about 30 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened. Add the parmesan cheese, stirring in until fully melted. Cook pasta in a pot of boiling water. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water and add to the sauce, allow it to cook down further. Drain pasta. Mix the pasta with the sauce. Serve.

And now for the details…

Hi-yo folks! Here we are in day 6 of 14; almost halfway through quarantine and still making use of our generous friend’s grocery drop-off from last Monday, as well as our, thankfully, well-stocked freezer and pantry. We are starting to run low on fresh produce, though, now that almost a week has gone by. Luckily for us, another couple friends of ours have already stepped up and offered to go out tomorrow to top us up for the rest of our isolation period! We are feeling incredibly blessed by the support team we have at home, whether it’s in surprise gift drop-offs on our doorstep (we got fresh bread and cheese dropped by a friend this weekend, and a gag gift from other friends of a Kraft pizza kit), the full-on grocery deliveries, or the regular check-ins via phone or social media (or even on this blog! Lookin’ at you auntie ;D), we have been so lucky to have such a kickass group of family and friends. Now for a small ask: if you know of someone who is lacking this support network and needs some help during these times, reach out (but don’t touch!) to see if you can help in any way. Maybe it’s picking up a few extra groceries when you are buying your own, providing a social connection (while maintaining physical distance!), or running an errand that they cannot do themselves. We’re all on Team People, let’s take care of each other.

Let’s get to cooking.

We start by chopping the onion and garlic. Heat a large pot to medium-high, and add the olive oil, then add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring regularly, until the onion is soft and the garlic is fragrant.

Next, you will add the meat to the pot. For this recipe, I had both ground beef and ground elk in the freezer. But you could use any mix and match of ground meat for your recipe, depending on your taste preferences, or what you have available. As the meat cooks, break it apart with a wooden spoon, so you end up with small pieces of meat. Once the meat has mostly cooked, add the red wine, and allow it to cook down until the liquid is almost completely gone.

Add the tomato paste, and just a dash of nutmeg and oregano (a small pinch of each). Stir to mix completely, cooking for about five minutes, allowing any liquid to be cooked off. Add the beef broth and tomatoes, and stir together. Then add the milk and stir completely.

Reduce the heat down medium, and allow the sauce to cook down, stirring occasionally to prevent any stickage (that’s a word, right?) to the bottom of the pot. Cook the sauce for around 20-30 minutes, or until the sauce has become very thick.

Cook the pasta in heavily salted water until al dente. For the batch that I made, I used Mafalda Corta, which is kinda like smaller lasagna noodles that have been cut into pieces. Feel free to use whatever pasta you have available. Fusilli, rigatoni, farfalle, pappardelle, you choose! The biggest thing to remember: save about 1/2 cup of the pasta water after it is done cooking, and add it to the sauce before you drain the pasta. This addition of starch from the water will help to thicken the sauce further as you cook it down, and will allow the sauce to better stick to your noodles.

Fun fact that has worked well for me since I discovered it: keep a wooden spoon in the pasta and water as it cooks to help prevent the water from boiling over.

Reduce the pasta sauce back down after the addition of pasta water and add the parmesan cheese. Salt and pepper the sauce to your taste. Avoid adding salt before this, as both the pasta water and the parmesan will add a certain amount of saltiness, and you may not want to add any more.

Finally, once everything has cooked and the pasta is drained, mixed the pasta and sauce together, and serve, maybe with a bit of additional parmesan on top.

Happy eating.

Mahi-Mahi with Orange Scented Beurre Blanc Sauce

Mahi-Mahi with Orange Scented Beurre Blanc

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: medium-hard
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Ingredients

  • 2 pieces mahi-mahi, or other white fish
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 2 Tbsps white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 shallots, chopped fine
  • 1/2 cup cold butter, cut into small pieces +1/2 Tbsp butter to cook fish
  • 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1/4 tsp orange blossom water
  • Salt and white pepper, to taste

Directions

Two options for cooking fish: 1) Set sous-vide machine to 53.5ºC/128ºF, cook fish in water for 30-60 minutes. Sear on either side in a pan with butter after removed from water. 2) Cook fish in buttered pan, flipping halfway through, until internal temperature of fish reaches desired level of doneness. Place shallots, wine, and vinegar in a pot and place over medium-high heat. Allow them to boil down until almost no liquid remains. Turn heat down to low. Start adding the cold butter in small increments, whisking constantly between adds. Just before the last few pieces of butter, remove from heat, add last pieces of butter and whisk until smooth. Add orange juice and orange blossom water. Salt and pepper to taste. Strain sauce. Plate fish, top with sauce. Serve.

And now for the details…

Day 5 of the 14 day quarantine challenge, and I’m going a bit “fancier” here with fish and a beurre blanc sauce. We have mahi-mahi in the freezer that we bought out of the back of some guy’s truck (no lie) a couple months ago and figured we should try to use it up! I have been wanting to try out my Christmas gift, a sous vide, on fish. But I knew that if I was going to do that, it would need some kind of sauce, or it would be pretty bland. I was thinking about sauces that I’ve tried in the past, but most are roux-based and are a little too thick/robust with a fish like mahi-mahi. Why not a beurre blanc?

Beurre blanc directly translates to “white butter”, which is very appropriate, since the sauce is basically melted, emulsified butter with some flavour. Don’t be discouraged by the “medium-hard” rating I have given this recipe. It is not too hard to do, but you do need to be able to give the sauce your undivided attention while cooking it.

For the sauce in this recipe, I decided to flavour it with some fresh orange juice, and I used some orange blossom water. Orange blossom water can be found in your grocery store where you would find other middle-eastern ingredients, or in some specialty stores. It had a glorious smell to it, and when you aren’t using it for sauce flavouring, it is a great flavour addition to sparkling water, desserts, or cocktails.

I chose the orange ingredients as a hat tip to Spain. We evacuated very quickly from what we had thought would be the trip of a lifetime… and while we were sad to leave, and stressed to get home, we left behind a country that is still struggling to combat the outbreak, and is now the second largest outbreak in Europe, after Italy. For a country that I had read about being so gregarious, generous, and tactile, I cannot even begin to imagine how this would affect day-to-day life. A particular moment struck me as we were seeking to make it home. We were on our way to the airport and needed to take the train. We were walking through the abandoned streets to get to the train station, and that’s when the moment hit. When I had been planning our vacation, I was so hoping we would get to see and smell orange trees in bloom while we were vacationing. And there were the trees: planted just outside the train station. They were in full bloom, with some full grown, bright orange fruits sitting in the boughs. The smell was intoxicating. The moment was a calm, joyous moment amidst chaos for me, and reflecting on it, I am holding on to hope. Hope for this confusing, scary time to pass us by. Hope for the countries so heavily affected to be able to achieve the supports they need. Hope for life to return to to a level of normalcy.

Sorry for the emotional divergence… and thanks for humouring my verboseness.

Let’s move on to cooking, shall we?

We start with the fish for this one. I used my sous vide for the fish, and if you are going to cook the fish this way, set your sous vide machine in the water and set the temperature to 53.5ºC/128ºF and let it heat up. Add the fish (in plastic) into the water and let it cook for 30-60 minutes. If you are able, salt and pepper the fish before adding to your bag, but ours was already vacuum sealed, so I actually just cooked the fish right in its package, no flavour added. If you are cooking the fish without a sous vide, we will wait until the sauce is mostly ready, and cook the fish just before serving.

Next, we will get ready for our sauce. If you are sous vide’ing the fish, wait to start the sauce until just when the fish is done.

Before we begin cooking the sauce, remove the butter from the fridge, and cut it into small chunks (~3/8″ or 1cm pieces), and place the butter back in the fridge to stay good and cold.

Chop the shallots finely, and add them to a pot with the white wine and white wine vinegar. Put the pot over medium-high heat, and allow the mixture to heat up to a boil and reduce, about 8 minutes, until there is almost no liquid left in the pot.

Turn the temperature down to low, and take the butter out of the fridge. Now is where we will start adding the butter in small increments, which will form up your sauce.

Using a large wire whisk, whisk constantly as you add in the butter pieces, a few at a time. Let the previous pieces almost fully mix/melt before adding the next few pieces.

Continue this until you have only 3-4 pieces of butter left. Then, remove the pot from the heat, and whisk in the last few pieces of butter. Squeeze the 1/4 orange into the sauce, and the orange blossom water, whisking them both into the sauce.

Strain the sauce to remove the shallot pieces, and set the sauce aside.

Finally, the fish. If you are cooking in a pan, salt and pepper the fish on either side. Heat the 1/2 Tbsp of butter in a pan, and cook the fish on medium-high heat, flipping halfway, until the interior of your fish reaches your desires level of doneness. If you sous vide’ed your fish, do a quick flash-fry in the pan with butter on high heat to get a little brown sear on the fish pieces.

Finally, plate your fish, drizzle the sauce on top, and garnish with some fresh parsley. Serve immediately.

Happy eating.