Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Pantry Explosion

For whatever reason we only do our grocery shopping once a week which means I have an hour or so to think of and plan all meals while trying to avoid the Sunday bachelors who have parked their carts in the middle of the aisles and refuse to move.

This usually means that at least one meal a week I colloquially pull out of my ass. I find myself wandering aimlessly pulling crap from the pantry, tossing it together in a bowl, shoving it in the oven and hoping it tastes good.

Yesterday was one of those days, and all was going well until the . . . unpleasantness.

I wanted to make Chicken Parmesan. There was a random shredded cheese sale so I'd scored some parm and wanted an excuse to use up a good chunk of it.

The first step is to turn the oven to 375. Don't worry, it'll take care of the rest while you scuttle around swearing a lot.

Most Chicken parm recipes call for seasoned breadcrumbs but I don't have any so I made my own mix.

1 cup bread crumbs to
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese.
1 tbsp oregano
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tbsp thyme
1 tsp paprika (I love paprika more than a realtor on his way to a vampire's castle).

Mix that all together in your husbands cereal bowl because it's the only sort of shallow one in the house.

In the second bowl stir up an egg and scramble it so even humpty dumpty won't recognize him.

Then do the old one hand dips the chicken in the egg the other into the bread crumbs. I like to double dip when breading things because it's tastier, uses up most of the extra crumbs and gives me twice the chance for the damn thing sticking together.

On Medium heat fry up the chicken for about 8 to 10 minutes to get the crumbs a nice golden brown.

Since this is pantry cooking I don't actually have any pasta sauce sitting around gathering dust, but I do have some cans of tomatoes.

I chop up two cloves of garlic (smashing it first to make peeling easier is a god way to get out some aggression against alliums) and dump that into my blender. You could use a food processor if you have one but I sent mine to an early watery grave many years ago.

Remembering that I have no dried basil I dash out to the garden and fight a few leaves away from the bugs that are slowly consuming all in their path before winter. Clean and toss those into the blender.

I like canned tomatoes because unlike most other vegetables, canning is good at keeping tomatoes at their peak freshness so you don't have to worry about picking old or flavorless "fresh" whole ones up at the grocery store. I use a 14 ounce can of diced tomatoes and add a small 8 ounce can of tomato sauce.

Now we come to the portion of "Don't do as Sabrina Don't does."

For the love of god, before you close the lid on your blender and hit pulse make sure the small plastic bottom of your blender hasn't cracked in two places so this happens:

There were tomatoes covering a radius that somehow extended beyond the house. My shoes, my hair, my shirt, the stove, all over the spices, on the dog, in the dog, trying to hitch a ride to Vegas.

But dinner was still needing to be made. So I dumped whatever I could salvage into a bowl, duct taped up the broken blender bit, placed the whole thing in a large bowl in case this happens again and tried once more. Luckily I keep a lot of cans of tomatoes around just in case a chili competition suddenly breaks out.
When the entire work surface isn't covered in a fine pasta sauce film this usually is a nice and quick way to make an as chunky as you want Pasta sauce. Just pulse until you're happy. I may have taken a bit more of my aggression out on it than usual and pounded it to oblivion.

Oh but the chicken's done. Pull it off and onto a baking sheet. Spoon some of your hard won pasta sauce onto the top and place in the oven for 20 minutes.

Now you have a lot of pasta sauce left but that's okay, it's going on some of that pasta thing I keep hearing so much about.

While the pasta gets more spongy and edible I like to chop up some mushrooms and dump them into a sauce pan. Into that goes the rest of the carefully extracted sauce with you cursing the whole time why the hell did they make blender cords so bloody short.

I add a bit of wine to up the acid, or in this case a lot to forget I still have tomato in my hair and slowly boil away all of the excess water to get a not too runny sauce. If this is taking too long I will add a few shakes of flour at the thing and call it lazy ooze to speed the whole thing up.
About 10 minutes into baking time, because I don't have anything more than sliced I pull the chicken out and add the Mozzarella on top. I was afraid if I topped it the whole time the cheese would burn.

Now thanks to the magic of blogging we'll just skip past the last 10 minutes or so with the magic cursor wand and ta da, pantry whipped up Chicken Parmesan:
Despite the fact I'm sure I'll still be finding tomato hidden in the corners mutating into some kind of teenage ninja thanks to the tutelage of a wise forgotten piece of potato it came out damn tasty.

So yay?


Leslie said...

I just about spit my drink out when I saw the first picture of your kitchen. Wow! That was hilarious.

Linda said...

Reminds me of my peanut sauce explosion. We had to move out of that apartment since I could scrape any more peanut butter off the ceiling!
Yum, chicken parm. Sounds good. Minus the mess :)