Monday, September 17, 2007

Why Do You Torment Me This Way, Rachael Ray?

Quite some time ago, Husband and I purchased Rachael Ray’s cookbook “365” which has a different recipe for every day of the year.

Now, I do usually LIKE Rachael’s recipes – I wouldn’t have purchased her cookbook if I didn’t, but, I am finding that many recipes from 365 actually take longer than 30 Minutes to prepare. (If you’ve been, you know, living under a rock or taking care of a sleepless child for the past 2 years, it’s possible that you don’t know that Rachael’s shtick is “30 minute meals” – real food you can actually prepare in 30 minutes.)

Anyway, yesterday afternoon I was perusing “365” and trying to decide what to make for dinner. And I saw a recipe called “Pretzel Coated Chicken Breasts in a Cheese Sauce” – or something along those lines. And it sounded good, and decadent enough for Sunday dinner, so, I decided to try it.

So, I pulled some chicken breasts out of the freezer and put them in the fridge to defrost, and I began preparing dinner around 5:30, expecting that we might eat at 6:10 or so.

Yeah…not so much. We didn’t eat until 7:15.

First, I was supposed to crush 5 oz. of pretzels until they were the consistency of breadcrumbs. The recipe called for me to put them in my blender, but, since my blender was recently the victim of an unfortunate accident which rendered it useless, I set about to crushing the pretzels in a small food processor left over from when Gabe was a baby and I had a grand vision of feeding him only homemade baby food. (For the record, that didn’t happen. He ended up being a Gerber baby all the way.)

Anyway, it took forever to grind up the damn pretzels. And then I had to pound the chicken breasts with a mallet, which took a while, so, by the time I had finished that portion of the recipe, it was already 6:00. At which I decided I was REALLY thirsty and what I really wanted was an enormous glass of sweet tea. Which of course I did not have made, so, I put two jam jars in the microwave with a cup of water in each (because I needed some boiling water in which to steep the tea bags and other water in which to melt the 1/3 cup of sugar to make the sugar syrup for the pitcher of tea.*)

I turned the microwave on for 90 seconds and then proceeded with the next part of the recipe, which was to coat the chicken breasts in the pretzel dust, then in some beaten egg, and then again in the pretzel dust.

This was a sticky endeavor that involved messing around with raw chicken and raw egg, so, I forgot about the water in the microwave. And then 5 oz of pretzels was NOT ENOUGH to cover the three chicken breasts I had prepared (even though the recipe had called for it to be enough for FOUR), and I had to improvise and I just covered the third piece of chicken in Italian breadcrumbs.

So, after I had covered the three chicken breasts in the pretzel mixture and the breadcrumbs, and scrubbed my hands and fingernails and the counter so as to banish any food bourne type nasty germs that might have been attached to the raw chicken or raw eggs, I examined Rachael’s cheese sauce recipe and I recognized that it was really just an improvised Welsh Rarebit without the dark beer, and so I scrapped Rachael’s cheese sauce recipe and made up my own Welsh Rarebit**, which, considering I had pre-grated sharp cheddar and good tangy mustard and a nice Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald ale to throw in, was bubbling nicely very quickly.

So, then I put some oil in a pan and let it heat up, at which point I remembered that I was still THIRSTY and really really wanted sweet tea. So, I turned on the microwave again for 90 seconds and watched the oil in the pan to see if it was hot enough to cook the chicken.

What happened next is kind of a blur. But, the microwave dinged and I pulled out the first jam jar and set it on the counter and dropped in three tea bags and set it to the side. I pulled out my sugar canister, and I reached behind me to grab the other jam jar, and as I touched it with my fingers it just…broke. It actually kind of broke in a sort of spectacular way, with pieces of glass flying out of the microwave and LANDING IN THE HOT OIL, along with much of the water that was in it.

I seriously don’t understand how it broke or why it broke – I didn’t DROP the jar, I just TOUCHED the jar.

Miraculously, my hand didn’t get sliced to ribbons, BUT, I must say, that broken glass does NOT fry well. And also that old adage about oil and water is pretty much dead on in terms of accuracy, because the glass and the water hit the hot oil and UGLY things happened. UGLY things.

So, I turned off the heat under the oil and I stared at the stove in kind of a daze for about 3 minutes, wondering how, exactly, to dispose of a pan full of hot oil and broken glass. At which point Husband came down from his shower and I announced, “Well, I have officially RUINED dinner. We might as well just order a damn pizza because THIS is a mess.”

Well, Husband poured the mess into an empty coffee can and scrubbed out the pan and picked the pieces of glass out of the microwave (injuring himself in the process) and put in some fresh grapeseed oil, and had the chicken frying in about 10 minutes. (Although while accomplishing this, he DID suggest that I was personally lacking in the requisite HAPPY HAPPY RACHAELY PERKINESS*** to make a Rachael Ray recipe...grrr....)

I boiled some water in our electric kettle and finished making the sweet tea, and we did actually EAT at 7:15, and the chicken WAS really tasty, and even my kids liked it (without the cheese sauce because they are both food purists who reject sauces of all kinds). But it sure felt like a lot more work than a 30 minute meal!!


* I have been making sweet tea in precisely this way since I was 11 years old, and I have never before had an incident like this.

**This is a dish I can make in my sleep. I am confident in my fondue abilities.

***Oh, come on. Those of you who actually KNOW Husband, don't you think he would have totally STRANGLED ME IN MY SLEEP if he was forced to live with a woman who ever exhibited perkiness on the level of Rachael Ray??? Back me up on this!!


Blogger maxhelcal said...

I hate when that happens! (glass breaking in the kitchen)

I have a tip for you about pounding the raw chicken. Get your self some of those big freezer bags and after rinsing the chicken, use a fork to put a few pieces in there at a time and then pound it with the mallot inside the sealed bag. (make sure the most of the air is out first) It is much cleaner this way and you won't get raw chicken under your nails and you can just discard the bag when your finished. I am a freak when it comes to that kind of thing...hubby works for a company called Ecolab who makes chemical cleaning products for restaurants and industrial kitchens so we are REALLY anal with food products.

gotta run...Bronte and Nolan are playing in the laundry and putting underwear on their heads and saying "Look Mom, hat!"


Monday, September 17, 2007 1:40:00 PM  
Blogger orange1986 said...

Hey Im sorry the Rachael Ray recipe didn't come out as planned. But for the pretzel crushing, if you don't have the food processor a large can of tomatos pounded on top does the trick really quick(she uses it herself)it works for the chicken too just put a layer of parchment or wax paper between the can and the chicken or pretzels. Also with her everything is within reach at all times and the meat is totally defrosted beforehand. Oh and you should try the Buffalo Chicken Chili -YUM-O ! :)

Monday, September 17, 2007 4:58:00 PM  
Blogger S. said...

Just use panko instead of pretzels, much easier. Also you can get whole wheat panko. Yeah, 30 minutes if you have a prep cook in your kitchen...but 7:15 really isn't bad at all. Glad no one was hurt in the glass incident.

Monday, September 17, 2007 11:15:00 PM  
Blogger Stephanie said...

That's funny - I did not know Rachel Ray's thing was 30-minute meals, and I have, in fact, been taking care of a sleepless child for he last 2 years.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007 10:07:00 PM  

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