Today was going to be a pot roast day, according to my meal plan. But as I tossed and turned the night before, my knees let me know our cold spell had been interrupted for a hot, humid day with impending thunderstorms. (The impending delivered; there are some truly impressive flashes of light going on outside my window. All potted herbs are on the ground so they don't have far to fall if the wind knocks 'em over.)
Pot roast goes better with cold and crisp fall days, not muggy thunderstorms. And besides, when I was at the grocery store, they had fresh chicken drumsticks on sale for $0.89/lb! So I brought them home with plans for a Cajun chicken alfredo. (Not that it's really Cajun, but it uses Cajun seasoning.)
I'd forgotten how much my darling man despises drumsticks, along with a ...strong preference... for boneless skinless breast over any and all other parts of the bird. Possibly because we've been working our way through a flat or two of boneless skinless breasts that were on a good sale from Sam's club that I'd broken down into smaller packages and vacuum sealed.
My darling man had forgotten how much I adore bone-in, skin-on dark meat, roasted until crispy in the oven. Outside of long, slow cooking recipes that pretty much turn anything into pulled chicken, it's hard for breast meat to match that juicy flavour.
"By the time you cut off all the skin, gristle, tendon, and bone, there's hardly any meat for all the chicken you paid for!"
"You're supposed to eat the crispy skin! And it tastes so much better, that it works out far better in flavour per dollar! Why eat dry white breast you have to simmer in juice or smother in gravy when you can have a couple juicy thighs?"
Yeah, I don't think he's ever going to come to the dark side of the bone. At least this means we're not competing when we split a rotisserie chicken!
Cajun Chicken Alfredo (The easy way, in 3 parts:)
drumsticks or thighs (Or breasts, if you must!)
olive oil to grease the pan
1/4 Tbsp pat of unsalted butter per piece of chicken (probably more if you do skinless)
Cajun/Creole seasoning (I used Tony Chachere's "more spice" version.)
1. Preheat the oven to 400F
2. Lightly oil a pan big enough to hold all the pieces of chicken (it's fine if they're snugged up against each other)
3. Put the chicken in the pan, and cover lightly with seasoning. (If you really want a lot of seasoning, flip the pieces and coat both sides.
4. Put a pat of butter on top of each piece to keep it juicy and moist while cooking.
5. Bake for 25-45 minutes, until done. (I cooked about 2 pounds, and it took 45 minutes)
1/2 spaghetti squash per person spaghetti squash
1. Cut spaghetti squash in half. Unless you got one big enough that'd take an axe, in which case just stab a couple holes in it for steam to escape. (Like a potato. A very tough potato. Be careful!)
2. If you were able to halve it, scoop the seeds out of the halves, the wrap them in plastic wrap. If not, skip this step.
3. Place halves face down in the microwave, and microwave for 10 minutes. If you weren't able to split it open, just stick it in the microwave for 8-15 minutes, depending on the size of the squash.
4. IMPORTANT! After the microwave is finished, LET THE SQUASH COOL OFF SEVERAL MINUTES BEFORE HANDLING! Steam burns are no fun.
5. If you didn't scoop the seeds out before, cut the squash in half and do so now. Oven mitts help in handling hot, steam-laden squash.
6. Take a fork, and scrape out the spaghetti squash flesh. It comes out like noodles. Pile ontop plates, or into serving bowl.
The alfredo sauce:
1 jar alfredo sauce (I told you this was the easy version.)
1/2 pack (4 oz) mushrooms, sliced thinly
1 large onion, sliced thinly
1 shot of bourbon for the sauce (optional: another shot for the cook to sip)
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp oil
pinch of salt
1/2 cup milk
1. Slice mushrooms and onion thinly.
2. Heat oil and butter in saucepan on med to med-high, then add onions and salt. Stir until onions are coated, and steaming away. (They're going to be too crownded to saute, but will turn transparent.)
3. Add mushrooms, stir to coat with oil & mix with onions, then stir occasionally to keep from sticking. The pan will be too crowded to truly saute, and that's fine. When everything's limp, and the onions are starting to caramelize, deglaze the pot with bourbon.
4. Dump in alfredo sauce, stir to mix. Do not toss sauce jar! Reduce heat to simmer/low.
5. Add milk to sauce jar, put lid back on, shake to thin all the sauce clinging to the walls. Open jar, add to the pot. Stir.
6. Stir occasionally, but this sauce'll keep while you're dealing with the spaghetti squash - so when your chicken is done, and your squash in a serving pot (or if only feeding two, just, ah, pre-plated), dinner is ready to put together and serve.
I served with a salad, and it was all good. Except for the look on my husband's face as he tried to salvage boneless skinless chunks from a drumstick or three... Sorry, dear!