Monday, June 27, 2011

Food Staples: Fried Chicken

I like to consider myself a fairly intelligent person, but the one thing that baffles me time after time is when someone says that they don't like fried chicken. Unless you're a vegetarian and don't eat meat in general, then this is one concept that I will always fail to grasp. Growing up, fried chicken was a regular feature on the Hutcherson dinner menu that never failed to disappoint. There's something about my mother's fried chicken that always makes it turn out perfect. (I like to think the secret ingredient is a little bit of love.) My mom would usually prepare one of those large family packs of chicken wings with the thought that there would be leftovers. This plan worked when my brother and I were little, but soon failed once we started reaching puberty and acquired some rather beastly appetites. What was once enough food to feed a family of four for at least two days dwarfed to one lonely meal (and maybe a snack for one person if they were lucky). 

I started out as mostly a white meat (chicken wings in particular) fan, but my preference and appetite both evolved over time. As you can see from the pictures posted here, I have made my entrance into the dark side. The great thing about drumsticks and thighs is that it is near impossible to dry them out so even the most beginner of cooks can have success, and they're pretty cheap too! (Frugality is a trait that I inherited from my parents - I have this almost deathly fear of debt and low bank balances.) Thankfully I can now enjoy the whole enchilada - I mean bird - and benefit from all of its days of clucking.

What is there not to love about tender, juicy flesh enrobed in a crunchy, golden brown crust prepared to satisfy hunger and titillate taste buds?

(Pause for dramatic effect. I think I can hear a few pins dropping.)

That's what I thought, but feel free to state the contrary in the comment section below. Also, click here and here for a couple of variations on ways to prepare this meal time favorite. I'll also be sure to test out some other preparations and report back to you with my findings.

And yes, I know that I am fulfilling all sorts of racial stereotypes by writing a post about my love for fried chicken, but good food is good food. Happy eating!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Hash Browns and Kidney Beans

This is pretty much a repeat of an earlier post from over a year and a half ago. However, seeing as these pictures are a bazillion times better than the first ones I thought you wouldn't mind me recycling a recipe. To be honest, I was actually slightly appalled when I just looked at the image I used in the first go around of this recipe. It was my ninth post ever to the blog! I never really noticed until now, but this is evidence of how much The Hungry Hutch has grown over the years.

  • potatoes
  • oil suitable for frying (i.e. vegetable, canola, peanut, etc.)
  • salt
  • pepper
  • canned kidney beans
  • garlic powder
  • chili powder
  • paprika
  • shredded cheese

The recipe is simple and straight forward. Hash Browns (which I just realized is actually two words - I'm discovering a lot as I type this post!): peel and grate the potatoes; squeeze in a clean kitchen towel or paper towel to remove excess liquid; season with salt and pepper and fry until golden brown in skillet with a few swirls around the pan of oil. Kidney Beans: add your canned beans to a pot and season with salt, pepper, chili powder, paprika and garlic powder. Spoon the beans on the potatoes and top with some shredded cheddar cheese.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Lend Me An Ear (of Corn)

There is nothing better (vegetable wise) than a fresh ear of corn on the cob. Corn is sweet, juicy and fun to eat (save the occasional kernel getting stuck in your teeth). It baffles me sometimes when people say that they don't like vegetables when produce as lovely as this exists. (In no way does this statement neglect my ever-lasting love for meat.) I think that corn also takes the cake as my king vegetable because it leads to another one of my favorite snacks: POPCORN! A fond childhood activity was having a "picnic" usually consisting of hot dogs and popcorn in the living room with my mom and brother while watching T.G.I.Friday (i.e. Family Matters, Step by Step, Full House, Boy Meets World, etc.) - now that was some quality programming! Those were the days...

I probably could have eaten this straight out of the husk, but I opted to do at least a little something to the food. Here I placed it on my grill pan to mark it up a little bit with some nice char and brushed it with some butter. Then I decided to sprinkle a little paprika to add a dash of red and because I thought it looked pretty, but next time I may choose to do without. Also, try to get as much of the silk off as possible (as you can see in the first picture I got a little impatient). I hope you get to enjoy this perfect summertime vegetable over the next couple of months.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Now everyone loves a good chocolate chip cookie. One day I was introduced to this old favorite's love child, the oatmeal chocolate chip cookie, and I think I had an out of body experience. I don't think it was my original intent to create this wonderful being, but I got the idea as I began assembling the ingredients and saw the oats on the shelf. The wonders of culinary improvisation! In full disclosure I have to admit that they turned out more as chocolate chip cookies that just happened to have oatmeal in them, but they are delicious nonetheless.

  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup instant oats

I have a confession to make... I may or may not have made up the ingredients just now. What had happened was... I used the recipe on the back of the bag as a starting point and made a couple small improvisations. When I make cookies I like to use shortening and brown sugar in lieu of butter and granulated sugar because doing so tends to produce a chewier result. The recipe also called for 1 cup of flour, but here I replaced a portion (and then some) with oats. (Or at least that's what I think happened.) As you make the cookie dough, feel free to add more of either if it appears too wet. Beat shortening, sugar, egg and vanilla together. Blend in flour, baking soda and salt. Stir in chocolate chips and spoon onto an ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes and serve with milk.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Egg, Bacon and Cheese Scramble

The incredible, edible egg. It's quite a lovely ingredient in and of itself, but you can use it to make thousands of other things. You would probably be shocked to know just how many of your favorite things it is (or at least can be) used in. 

Mayonnaise? Eggs. 

Hollondaise sauce? Eggs. 

Cake? Eggs. 

Meatballs? Eggs. 

Things that are breaded and deep fried? Eggs. 

Omelets? Okay... that one is obvious, but you get my point.

The unfertilized offspring of hens all over the world are just one of the millions of food items why I could NEVER be a vegan. (Tangent: Have you ever heard of music eggs? My guess is probably not. The gist of it is that someone in China thought it would be a great idea to play music to the chickens as they developed based on the premise that happy chickens lay better quality eggs. It appears that maybe more farmers should be serenading their chicks with some Adele and Donna Summer. And now back to our regularly scheduled program...) More power to those of your out there that are [vegan], but you'll never see me at one of your carnivore's anonymous meetings.

 Start by dicing the bacon and then throwing it into a frying pan to crisp up. Remove and set aside on a paper towel to drain. Depending on how much fat is leftover, you may want to remove some of it because this is what you'll be cooking your eggs in (you can thank me later). Whisk together your eggs with some milk or cream, salt and pepper and cook in the bacon fat. The key to extra soft and fluffy eggs is not to cook them too quickly and constant stirring. Once they are almost done, sprinkle in some shredded cheese and add the bacon back to the pan. Continue to stir so that everything gets incorporated and the cheese begins to melt. Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with a little parsley (I only had the dried variety on had, but go for the gold if you have fresh herbs in your kitchen).

This post has been brought to you by leaving work early on a beautiful summer day, Leinenkugel's Summer Shandy (I highly recommend it), and the letter "h."