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.

Linguine with White Clam Sauce

Linguine with Clam Sauce

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1.5 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cans (142ml/4.8oz each) baby clams, drained
  • 1/4 tsp oregano
  • Dash of hot sauce
  • 1/2 cup cream cheese
  • Salt and pepper, to tase
  • 250g (8.8oz) dry linguine
  • 2 Tbsps grated parmesan cheese

Directions


Sauté the shallots on medium high heat in the olive oil until soft. Add the white wine, and cook down until reduced by over half. Add chicken broth and clams, stir. Add oregano and hot sauce, stir. Cut the cream cheese into smaller pieces, then add to the sauce. Allow to melt and stir into the sauce. Cook the linguine. Add 1/2 cup of the pasta water to the sauce. Cook until sauce coats the back of a wooden spoon. Add salt and pepper to taste. Drain the pasta, add to the sauce, and toss to mix. Top with parmesan cheese and fresh ground pepper, serve

And now for the details…

This dish was a family favourite. We were introduced to it by a family friend when I was young, and it quickly became a special dish in our household. We had it often enough, that after a bit of time my mom would not even bother pulling the recipe card out when making it, she had made it so often. We had a tradition in our household that on our birthdays, we would get to choose what we wanted for dinner. The amount of times that I would choose this dish as my birthday dinner are innumerable. Not… because of my age… but because… I liked it so much… I can’t remember how many times… Okay, I’m getting old. Regardless, this is a special dish in my heart, and any time I’m feeling homesick or want some comfort food, this is the dish I turn to.

It’s also a fairly quick and easy meal to come together. So even though it was a special dish, it was still something that could come together on a school/work night in a fairly short amount of time. Pair it up with a simple green salad, and you’ve got yourself a great meal!

Start everything off by mincing the shallot and sautéing it in a large pan on medium high heat with the olive oil just until the shallot has started to soften and turned translucent. Add the white wine to the pan, stirring to mix.

We are going to let the white wine reduce until the liquid has almost completely boiled off. Just a small amount of liquid should be left in the pan.

Next, add your chicken broth and clams. Yes, I am suggesting to drain the clams, and yes, this is an opportunity to use the clam juice to increase the “clamminess” of your dish. But to be honest, I actually find the clam juice a bit too salty (I know, it’s shocking, I’m calling something too salty, call the press) and not as rich in umami flavour as using chicken broth as your liquid source. It’s also important to use baby clams in this dish. I made the mistake once of not paying attention when buying the canned clams and ended up with whole clam pieces. The texture is just not the same as the small, juicy bites of baby clams.

Stir, bringing the sauce back up to a simmer, then add the oregano and hot sauce. Just a few dashes of the hot sauce, we are not trying to burn our faces off (I mean, unless that’s what you are looking for, then have at ‘er), just adding an extra layer of flavour to the dish. Now is also a good time to start cooking your pasta so it is ready around the time as your sauce.

Cut the cream cheese into smaller pieces. This will allow the cream cheese to melt faster, and meld into the sauce a bit faster. A quick note on cream cheese: you can use low fat cream cheese, but I would recommend the full fat. The low fat cream cheese does not melt as quickly, and it takes quite awhile before your sauce looks homogenous without a whole bunch of white chunks floating around.

Let the sauce simmer for a bit as you stir the melting cream cheese in. At this point, your pasta should be fairly close to being done as well. Before draining the pasta, add about 1/2 cup of the pasta water to the sauce and allow it to continue to simmer until the sauce coats the back of a wooden spoon. The addition of the pasta water helps the sauce to thicken, and will help it adhere to the pasta. Give the sauce a final taste test and add salt and pepper to suit your tastes.

Once the sauce is ready, add the drained pasta to the pan, and stir to mix the sauce into the pasta. Transfer to a wide serving platter, and top with the parmesan and fresh ground pepper, then serve!

Happy eating.