Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Oven-Fried Chicken with Creole Cheddar Grits and Sweet-and-Sour Green Beans

I'm going to be honest- regardless of who I'm cooking for, I usually make whatever I feel like eating. Yes I take ingredient and cuisine preferences into consideration, but I never cook anything that I'm not excited to eat because, well, what's the point? My FAVORITE thing about knowing how to cook is being able to eat anything I want at any time. But, as I'm a pizza and pasta lover and could eat varieties of these two items every day of my life, I know that I need to expand my horizons and try to make new foods.

I recently had the pleasure of cooking dinner for Kevin and our good friend Stefan, and I tried my best to come up with a menu that I knew they would love AND I would enjoy cooking and eating. Enter a Southern fried chicken supper- my style! I kept the chicken relatively healthy by oven frying it, and served it with plenty of colorful sides. The Creole Cheddar Grits were creamy and flavorful, and made a perfect compliment to the crunchy chicken. I love to serve chicken on top of grits- it's Southern, fun and tasty! The Sweet-and-Sour Green Beans took a "boring" vegetable to a new level with the addition of the sweet caramelized shallots, a touch of sugar, and the punchy cider vinegar. So simpleand delicious! As for the other sides, well, I have a full time job you know, so I bought the sweet potato fries and coleslaw. Now that's easy!

Oven-Fried Chicken
Crispy, juicy chicken without the deep fryer! 
Serves 4

2 large eggs, beaten
2 cups panko (Japanese bread crumbs- SO good!)
1/2 cup flour
1/2 tsp celery salt
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
4 skinless, boneless chicken thighs or breasts, lightly pounded
1/2 cup canola oil
Lemon wedges, for serving

Place a rimmed nonstick baking sheet on the lower rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Put the beaten eggs, panko and flour in 3 shallow bowls. Season the flour with the celery salt, garlic salt and cayenne. Dust the chicken with the flour, then dip it in the egg, and finally in the panko, pressing to help the bread crumbs adhere.

Pour the canola oil onto the hot baking sheet. Carefully dip the chicken in the oil, being sure to coat both sides evenly, and set them on the baking sheet. Bake the chicken for about 25 minutes, until gold and crispy, turning halfway through. Serve with lemon wedges atop the Creole Cheddar Grits.

Recipe adapted from Food and Wine magazine

Creole Cheddar Grits
A creamy bed for the crunchy chicken!
Serves 4-6

3 cups water
1 cup milk
1 T. Creole seasoning
1 tsp salt
1 cup quick cooking grits
2 T. butter
1 cup shredded cheddar

In a large sauce pot combine the water, milk, Creole seasoning and salt. Bring to a boil. Whisking, add grits in a slow steady stream. Reduce heat to medium-low and cover, stirring occasionally until thickened, about 5-7 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in butter and cheese.

Recipe adapted from Food Network

Sweet-and-Sour Green Beans
Fun flavors makes you want to eat your veggies!
Serves 4

3/4 pound green beans (fresh or frozen)
2 T olive oil
1 shallot, minced
2 T cider vinegar
1 tsp. sugar
Salt and pepper

If using fresh green beans, place them in a steamer basket set over a large saucepan of boiling water. Steam until bright green and crisp-tender, about 5 minutes.

If using frozen beans place in skillet and cover with water. Boil for 2-3 minutes until tender.

In a medium skillet heat the oil. Add the shallot and cook over medium-high heat, stirring, until softened, about 2 minutes. Add the vinegar and sugar; stir to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat and add the beans. Season with salt and pepper, toss well and serve.

Recipe adapted from Food and Wine magazine

Wine of the Night
Chateau Ste. Michelle Sauvignon Blanc
Columbia Valley

With a fried chicken dinner I knew I wanted to serve a crisp, light and refreshing wine, and Sauvignon Blanc is one of my favorites. This wine is crisp and clean, and offers fresh aromas and flavors of lemongrass, apple and melon. And at $8/bottle you can drink it any night!

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