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Passive Activism: Chicken Good

May 25, 2012

After 5 days of eating nothing but bland, boring food, I was seriously ready for the final part of my little experiment: Meal replacement!

What’s really deceptive about the original image is that if you didn’t know much about cooking, you could easily conclude that the contents of the image were intended as a meal replacement.  And they’re really, really not.  If what you want is fried chicken and what you get is boiled chicken bits with potatoes and peas, then you’re going to be one sad little chef.  Trust me, I know.

*gasp* Processed foods!

But! With the additional of just two little items, you too can make fried chicken at home! [1]

I know, I know, the whole point of the original article was to buy healthy foods.  You gotta start somewhere.  These two items will add only a couple of dollars to your grocery budget, and will vastly improve the flavor of your food.

I like to use croutons for my breading because a) they tend to be cheaper and more flavorful than your average can of bread crumbs and b) a lot of bread crumb brands these days use sesame seeds to boost their flavor.  Fortunately, I have never found that one out the hard way.  At least, not that I know of.  We never did identify what sent me to the ER that one time…

Anyways!  I am also particularly fond of these Pioneer brand baking mix packets.  Although the premeasured packages are a little more expensive per ounce than just buying a box of Pioneer baking mix, that’s something you have to balance when you do your grocery shopping.  If you don’t make biscuits very often, then something like this is a good staple to keep on hand.  It keeps well over a long term and can be useful for more than just biscuits and pancakes. [2]  Plus, while the instructions call for milk, they do just fine with a little water and oil.

Not So Fried Chicken, with sides!

1 Package of croutons
4 thawed chicken breast pieces
1 cup milk (water works, too)
1 package Pioneer biscuit mix
1 package frozen peas
2 baking sheets/cookie sheets/cake pans

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Pour the croutons into a plastic baggie.  Pound the hell out them until they are crushed up into crumbs, or the neighbors complain. [3]
Pour the croutons onto a plate and the milk into a small bowl.
Dip each piece of chicken into the milk, then lay it on the crouton crumbs.  Flip over.  Smush crumbs liberally into the chicken.
If you’ve got foil, line one pan with foil.  Or oil it.  Or resign yourself to scrubbing the damn thing later.
Cook the chicken for 15 minutes.

I like big biscuits and I cannot lie…

While the chicken is cooking, follow the directions on the Pioneer baking mix package for biscuits.  Divide into four parts and drop onto another baking sheet.[4]  Foil/oil/scrubbing options apply here, too.
When the chicken has cooked for 15 minutes, flip the chicken, put the pan of biscuits into the oven with the chicken, and cook another 15 minutes.
When there is 5 minutes left for your chicken to cook, throw some peas into a bowl with a little water and microwave for 3 minutes.

Notes: This recipe assumes a lot of things, such as ownership of a working oven, a microwave, and most importantly, the dishware required to prepare and cook this sort of meal.  But when trying to move people towards eating fresh, healthy, and at home, I feel that it’s important to teach people not just how to cook, but also how to cook the things that they *like*.  Thus, meal replacement.  The thing I particularly like about this meal is that it’s designed to be a “one oven” meal.  One of the hardest things I learned when cooking was how to time everything so that it came out Just Perfect.  I’ll still occasionally misjudge my timing, and that’s okay.

After 5 days of eating nothing but mostly bland food, I was particularly grateful for this chicken.  I may not have accomplished much in terms of teaching y’all anything, but I did learn to appreciate my spice cabinet a lot more.  And hey, who knows?  Maybe I’ll even do a followup series in a week or so on simple (and inexpensive) things you can add to those boring pots of food to make them better.  Given my track record with long term projects like that, though, I can’t really make any promises.

[1] Or at least a reasonable equivalent.
[2] I’ll get to that later, I promise.
[3] Which is total bullshit because you’ve totally put up with them banging around in the kitchen and their yappy little dog, so…
[4] If you want to get fancy, feel free, but drop biscuits are just as tasty.  And yes, despite the Pioneer instructions, you can totally make these biscuits without changing the oven temp.

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