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Wednesday October 18, 2006

cooking with dpstyles (or how I became a master chef in 7 days)

Okay, so let's rewind about 10 days. I was flying out to SF for work and shopping the JFK bookstore for something to read on the plane. I ended up picking up "Kitchen Confidential" (per KM's suggestion) - the story of this NYC chef (Anthony Bourdain), his experience working in various restaurants and generally shit talking about the restaurant biz in NYC. I'm about 3/4 of the way through with it and it's actually pretty good.

Now fast forward. I got back from SF on a Thursday night, was in NYC for the weekend and when Sunday night rolled around I was sitting on the couch starving. Normally, I'd be all Johnny Order In, but no doubt motivated by Bourdain's book, I said to myself, "you know what dpstyles97, I'm going to make my own mf'ing dinner tonight!"

So, I went to the innernets, Google'd up "chicken stuffed with" (sounds like a good start, no?) and ended up on this cooks.com website with all these recipes. About three down was this "Stuffed Grilled Chicken Breasts" recipe (as in stuffed w/ sausage, mf'er!). It was as if Jesus himself had HTML'ed that one up just for me.

So, I went to the KeyFoods on Ave A. and bought pretty much everything (my kitchen = bare. my fridge = empty): chicken, garlic, parsley, paprika, pepper, bacon, butter, breadcrumbs.

Oookkaay, so what's a saute pan? Do I have one of those? Let's check Google images. Sweet, I've got one of those!

And how does one mince garlic? Quick Google search. And ok!

Okay, now what's the best way to chop these vegetables up?

Oh, and how do I saute something anyway?

And so I followed the directions, Googling everything I was clueless about, and got to this point...

ps: Note how the suckers are wrapped up in bacon. Pow!

... grilled it up and it actually came out pretty delicious. I even made some couscous on the side.

So Monday. Anxious to flex my Iron Chef muscles again, I dialed up JJ & Jackie and told them I'd make them dinner. No recipe needed this time - I'm going to use the same tricks from Sunday, only this time stuff it with something else.

So, I stuffed that chicken with ham and mozarella chesse (chicken cordon bleu style) and all these sauteed vegetables (tomatoes + onion + pepper + minced garlic), dumped them onto the chicken, rolled it up and toothpicked the thing closed...

... and then grilled it up just like before.

And that turned out to be pretty good too!

Lesson learned: even 20 toothpicks aren't enough to keep the chicken all wrapped up. That's what the "wrapped in bacon" was for in the other recipe. Ah-ha! I guess you could do it with string too, but that may burn off / catch on fire (!!) on the grill.

I think Jackie and JJ liked it too (even though Jackie nearly died from a hidden toothpick). I call it "Chicken Explosion" (stoopid Jackie suggested "Toothpick Surprise").

And then Friday. I tried to make use of some of my leftovers and grilled up the remaining sausage with the leftover vegetables (more minced garlic!) and some rigatoni and that turned out to be real good too!

And then we get to Sunday. After dragging Dianne apt hunting with me all day, I told her I'd cook her up something special (read: experimental).

Here's my thinking: "Why should two two most delicious things ever - mac and cheese and chicken parm - have to be *two dishes*? Why not just combine them to make one Super Meal?"

So, I found some mac and cheese recipe (actually, Mom + Linda.D's). And then some chicken parm recipe. And then made them both, mixed them together and baked them up. I call it "Dream Come True".

Mom said it was impossible (er, actually she said it was a "bad idea"). But, see? Mac and cheese sauce (flour + cream + butter) combined with pasta and red sauce and little nuggets of breaded chicken! I was sure that either the raw-egg or the raw-chicken would destory us, but it turned out to be okay.

And "just okay". (even though it can't look any more delicious!)

Problem (a.k.a. another lesson learned): too much going on. "Too many flavors" as JJ said when he sampled my genius. Agreed. I don't think it's that mac and cheese and chicken parm aren't meant to be Together Forever, but rather that breaded chicken + vegetables + cheese mix don't work so well together. The breading was kind of mushy. Maybe if I grilled the chicken breast first and then mixed it up? Also, the ratio of chicken to pasta was off - there should be mac and cheese AND chicken parm in every bite, no? Next time I'll fix that.

Okay, so what's next? Well, Alex pointed me towards Fresh Direct's One-Click Recipes (you just choose what you want and they'll ship you all the ingredients + printed recipe), so I'll give that a try.

But I'm a big fan of the "something stuffed with something else", and I really think that's my calling. Like pork chops stuffed with <insert something here>? Or, can you stuff fish with <insert something else here>? I suppose you can wrap anything in bacon, right? Any advice?

ps: So random, but just found this Work Fieldtrip to Cooking Class entry on teendrama from Oct 1999 (7 years ago!). Ha!

Wed 10/18 @ 7:08 PM | # link| Comments (9)
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