January 26, 2014

Get Back in that Kitchen!

Our story begins when my cousin Jay shared this picture on Facebook.

Crispy Cajun Shrimp Fettuccine
Image courtesy of Foodies TV (recipe here)

Hmm... I wonder how much trouble it would be to make this with chicken? (Sous Chef Wildcat doesn't eat seafood. Picky as a toddler, that one.) So...

Crispy Cajun Chicken Fettuccine
6 oz fettuccine
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
1 boneless chicken breast
1 tbsp Cajun spice (more on that later)

2 tbsp flour
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup Parmesan

First things first: get the water on to boil and break the chicken breast down to about 1-inch cubes. Then put my trusty deep skillet Big Red on a medium burner. While that's heating up, toss the chicken in kosher salt, then the Cajun seasoning.

Next, roll it in the flour until it's all good and coated.

 Now add the butter and olive oil to the hot skillet. I like to say my skillet is hot enough if the butter "sings," which means the water is boiling out leaving delicious fat behind. It makes a hissing sound and the pretty white froth you see here.

Hear that? Sounds like Beyonce.

You can test whether your oil is hot enough by shaking or grinding some pepper into the pan. If it sizzles, you're ready to rock.

As usual I failed to take any pics of the chicken frying. But I'm so out of the habit of documenting meals it's a wonder I have pics of anything in this post. Anyway, about this time I put half this package of fettuccine and some salt into the boiling water.

Michael Angelo's. Cute.

Now, y'all might know I've become a disciple and evangelist for Alma's brand whole-grain pasta. Sadly it was unavailable for today's meal, but this kind was tasty enough.

Cook the chicken while the pasta boils. And here's where my adaptation started slipping off the rails. For one thing, the chicken cubes took a lot longer than the 4 minutes suggested in the shrimp recipe.

For another, they never got crisp. I think one of two things might be the problem. Either I should have gone with medium-high heat (which I hate to do because my kitchen smokes up like a hookah bar), or I should have used more flour. Oh well, live and learn. My chicken ended up like this:

Yeah, I'm way out of practice shooting food porn.

Now we make the sauce. And I'm not gonna lie; I was worried. A good Alfredo sauce has long eluded me. I can never get the Parm to melt right, so the texture is always off, and I'm happy if I don't end up with something like lumpy gravy or wallpaper paste.

Chicken broth and heavy cream (1 cup each), in, with a little more Cajun spice.

Looks like Alfredo so far

So I let that reduce a while, decided it didn't look like Cajun Alfredo, so I threw in some paprika. Then the moment of truth: in goes the Parmesan...

And it worked! I credit Whole Foods 365 Parmesan in the 5-oz. tub. Melted like a dream, and didn't turn grainy. Praise be. Now the noodles and the chicken go in, and... wait...

That's... way too much sauce

What the hell? Funny because I actually increased the volume of meat and pasta from the original recipe, but didn't add any extra liquid. I was afraid I'd end up short on sauce! And you won't hear me say this often, but it was too much meat too.

Luckily that was easy enough to fix. After we finished eating I boiled the other half of the fettuccine and it all came out perfect. We had leftovers for like, two days, but there are worse fates.

 Good thing I'm delicious

Throw a little garlic bread on the side and overall call this one a win.

But wait! (You're totally not asking, but humor me.) What about the Cajun seasoning? Okay, okay...

Here's what Foodies TV suggests:
2 1/2 tbsp salt
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 tbsp paprika
1 tbsp red chili powder
1 tbsp ground black pepper

But a while back, I got this Cajun spice recipe from *clears throat, averts eyes* the Sookie Stackhouse Companion. Y'all go on and judge me. I'll wait.

Crossroads Cajun Spice:
2 tsp cayenne
2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp thyme

I prefer Sookie's spice for a couple of reasons. First, Holy Gods look at all that salt! Second, the cayenne adds more heat than red chili powder, which we love around here. Adding paprika was a good idea though, gave the Alfredo a nice reddish color, befitting a not-so-crispy Cajun chicken fettuccine.

I've got some kinks to work out, but this one's a keeper. Thanks Cousin Jay!

January 22, 2014

If We Weren't All Crazy We Would Go Insane

 Well, it's been a minute...

Or more precisely, almost two years?(!)

Not been up to much. The short version of events goes: my partner lost his job and I lost my mind. One week we were house hunting and planning our anniversary vacation, and the next week we were on a food budget again.

For a long while I couldn't face my tiny dollhouse kitchen, because I was supposed to be leaving it behind. For an even longer while I couldn't face this blog. We were so close to getting out - of the literal barrio and figurative trailer park. It still kind of hurts to revisit all that hope and happiness. *Cue Debbie Downer Music*

Look! A kitten!
 Image via Stock Free Photos

Anyway the upside is I have a couple of years' worth of recipes that need documenting, so I'm back, at least for a while. Coming soon: I attempt to conquer my lifelong inadequacy regarding Alfredo sauce.