I made two recipes on Friday night that were new to me and were truly outstanding, so I would like to share them with you.
My husband and I both love chicken. I have recently discovered that frying chicken in oil dries out the chicken on the inside, but frying it in lard allows it to stay moist and juicy. Many people get squeamish at the idea of lard in their food, but I feel fine with it so long as I am very careful about portion sizes. I believe that one or two servings of chicken cooked in lard is ok, so long as I also have my two or three servings of fruits and veggies. Also, the cornflake coating on the outside of the chicken helps keep the lard out of the chicken. When I rinsed out the pan all of the lard I had used was still in the pan. This is certainly not the case when I cook chicken in oil. Chicken cooked in oil actually tastes oily to me. This chicken tastes moist and simple – just like chicken should taste. The cornflakes don’t add much to the flavor if you crush them finely enough.
Here is my adapted cornflake chicken recipe. I found the original recipe at http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Cornflake-Fried-Chicken-242835. This recipe can be gluten-free with the right brand of corn flakes. I paired this chicken with fresh, juicy oranges and some light butter pasta. Again, I am very careful about portion control, lest I go overboard on the saturated fats or the carbs.
Approx. Cooking Time:
2 boneless chicken breasts
1/4 cup milk
2 cups cornflakes
Approx. 1 cup lard
Cut the chicken breasts into smaller pieces, at least as small as your palm. Pound the chicken to about 1/2-inch thick. Set chicken aside. Mix egg with milk in a wide, shallow bowl. Set aside. Crush cornflakes to super fine consistency and pour into a separate wide, shallow bowl. Melt lard in a large saucepan. Dip chicken in milk/egg mixture, then cornflakes, and put in the hot pan. Cover the chicken and fry on medium-high until done, flipping as necessary.
As I was cooking I found some very overripe plums and decided that I needed to cook them up for dessert. Fruit desserts are one of my favorites because it helps me get those five servings of fruits and vegetables in without much hassle. I also don’t like wasting fruit when it’s too overripe to eat. I consider fruit desserts using fresh fruit to be healthy for us because they provide both fiber and vitamins without too much added sugar (I tend to shy away from recipes that taste more like sugar than fruit). They’re certainly much healthier than the cookies my husband loves so much. Making the plums into a cobbler seemed the natural choice, but how do I find the perfect recipe?
I am so tired of cobblers that are composed of dry, wilted fruit topped with a completely unrelated crunchy, sugary topping. When I eat those I feel as if I’m eating two different desserts, not one. Every other bite I get overwhelmed with a bite of pure caramelized sugar. I find it very difficult to find a cobbler recipe that is not sickeningly sweet or unhealthy because of the added sugar, and usually just decreasing the sugar doesn’t do the trick. After mulling this over a bit last summer I found a cobbler recipe that combined peaches with apricots (http://southernfood.about.com/od/cobblers/r/bl30418i.htm).
I didn’t have apricots, so I decided to substitute some very tart plums that I like to call “plumicots” (I don’t know their real name). The key to this recipe is that you add a bit of sugar to the juice of the fruit and pour that on top of the fruit before adding the crust. This spread the sugar around evenly but also softened the tartness of the plums. The plums were the dominant flavor here, and the sweet peaches stayed quietly in the background. It was delicious. Because I loved that recipe so much, I decided to try it again, but with just normal plums this time, and no peaches. It turned out spectacularly.
Approx. Cooking Time:
Approx. 5-9 ripe plums, sliced into medium-sized pieces, with the juice reserved separately
2 T. cornstarch
1 T. butter
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. nutmeg
1/2 c. flour
1/2 c. sugar
3/4 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
2 T. butter, softened
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly grease a square baking dish and add the chopped up fruit (without the reserved juice). Mix the sugar, cornstarch, and reserved plum juice together in a saucepan. If there is not enough plum juice for the mixture to be a liquid, add water in small amounts just until the sugar and cornstarch are in a bit of liquid. Heat the mixture on medium, stirring constantly, until it boils gently and thickens. Remove from the heat and add butter, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Pour over fruit.
In a separate bowl, mix together the ingredients for the crust and blend well. Spoon the batter in small spoonfuls over the fruit and juice and spread out if necessary so that it covers most of the fruit. Bake for approx. 30 minutes, or until the crust is just beginning to turn a light brown.
Desserts are my specialty, and I was lucky to have made such a successful main course and dessert in the same night. Chicken can be quite boring if overcooked, but the beauty of chicken is that it pairs well with almost any combination of flavors. Because my husband is such a carnivore and wants his meal to have meat in it, I’m sure I will have many more chicken recipes to share soon.