Wednesday, June 16, 2010

"Delicious In Small Doses"

Tonight's blog title quotes Maggie directly. As she picked up a forkful of rice she simply stated "It's delicious in small doses." And she was right. The onion rice portion of tonight's recipes WAS delicious in small doses. Why small doses? Well, let's just say that larger bites of this rice concoction may have permanently damaged your taste buds.

We learned a lot tonight though (and that's what is really important) but I'll touch on that after Maggie shares her cooking experiences. Without further ado -

The Recipe: Romano Chicken
Original Recipe Found On:

What You'll Need:

2 X Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts
1/4 lb. Swiss Cheese
1/4 lb. Ham
2 Tbs. Grated Parmesan Cheese
1 1/2 Tsp. Paprika
1/2 Tsp. Garlic Salt
1/2 Tsp. Dried Tarragon
1/2 Tsp. Dried Basil
1 Tbsp. Melted Butter
1/3 Cup Dry Bread Crumbs

The Recipe: Onion Rice
Original Recipe Found On:

What You'll Need:

1 Tbsp. Vegetable Oil
1 Red Onion
1 Cup Long Grain White Rice
1 Tsp. Black Pepper
2 Cups Chicken Broth

Hello everyone!  Yet another valuable experience cooking this evening.  What was supposed to be relatively simple dishes, turned out that way. However, we found that too much of a good thing, could can be a bad thing, but more on that later.

After perusing my cookbooks and cooking magazines, it was tough to find a one-two punch for the blog tonight.  I decided to download an app on my iPhone called AllRecipes, a user submitted recipe website, made into a handy-dandy little app to help one decide what to have for dinner.  They also have an option called the "DinnerSpinner", where one could simply decide on a dish type, (main dish, appetizer etc.) what type of ingredient (chicken, beef, fish) and how fast one would want their dinner to be done.  I searched endlessly on this app, trying to find the right combination for this evening and I finally found the Romano Chicken and Onion Rice.

I started tonight's festivities by mixing the "breading" for the chicken.  Since I'm still using panko bread crumbs from a zillion recipes ago, I used that for tonight's recipe, instead of regular bread crumbs.  Panko bread crumbs are more crunchy and are used in a lot of Asian dishes.  To the bread crumbs, I added my parmesan cheese, paprika, garlic salt, tarragon, and basil. 

Big mixture o' seasonings 

As I studied my recipe this week, I read that the chicken needed to be pounded down to a 1/4 inch thickness and that my cheese was to be put on top of the chicken - the ham was omitted from our version of the recipe.  Befuddled, I asked Tyler how I was going to put my seasoning mixture on the chicken when it was covered with chicken.  He suggested dipping the whole chicken/cheese mixture in eggs whites, THEN into the mixture.  The more I got to thinking about it, I realized that the cheese around the chicken might not be a good idea, since cheese has a tendency to melt when heated, and therefore, leave a nice gooey mess, exposing plain chicken.  I read the recipe one more time before I started to cook, and, I quote "place Swiss cheese on top AND roll up."  I did a mental facepalm and began to roll up the cheese into the chicken and roll that up as well.  I should have used Tyler's advice and used eggs whites to dip the chicken into before the mixture, but the seasonings did stick to the chicken and I sprinkled the remaining mixture on top the of the chicken for more tastiness.

Breaded and ready to go! 

The recipe also called for melted butter to be put on top of the chicken, but I felt that would wash away the mixture, so I went without butter.  I stuck the buggers in the convection oven at 350 degrees for 25 minutes (or you could also put it into the microwave for four minutes, as the recipe says; but I wanted the chicken to have a good, crispy, baked taste to it.

Meanwhile, as the chicken slowly succumbed to death by heat,(Tyler's note: yikes...that's a scary way to put it...)  I started to make my onion rice.  I chopped up half a white onion.  The recipe called for 1 red onion, but I felt the strong odor of a red onion might overpower the recipe - that and I've become partial to white onions, they are perfect little guys to make any type of dish.  I also started to heat a saucepan with a tablespoon of olive oil.  After about three minutes, (once the oil was nice and toasty) I added my onions.  I cooked them until they were almost translucent, then I added my cup of rice.  Long grained white rice is a really versatile rice, perfect for any type of dish that calls for rice.  

Again, while was studying for my evening of cooking, I tried to see if the rice recipe called to precook the rice, but it never said anything about it.  I asked Tyler again to see what he thought: he told me that "given what the recipe is having you do, you probably don't want to cook it first."  So I went with that...a VERY good decision. (Tyler's note: I have a few of those every now and again)

Once the onions and rice started to brown a little, I added 2 cups of chicken broth and a teaspoon of pepper.  I brought it to a boil and let it simmer for about 15 minutes.  Now, all these recipes on were submitted from users, and whoever likes a teaspoon of pepper in the rice must have a strong palate, because  I couldn't take a large forkful of rice because my mouth would end up burning.  I know that pepper is a good seasoning and using in small quantities is good...But for this recipe, I would definitely omit it, or even use another spice.

The End Result:

Want a bite? 

The chicken turned out pretty well, all the seasonings came together and blended well with one another; one spice didn't stand out from the rest, it was all a good combination.  I could barely taste the cheese under all the spices, but I think if we used a stronger cheese it would probably throw off the entire recipe by overpowering the breading. 

The rice was...well...kind of a dud.  I think the rice, onion, and chicken broth combination was a wonderful idea, but adding that black pepper was a smidge of a disaster.  It really threw off the flavor of the recipe, and, again, little bites made for the best way to eat it.  These two definitely are on the "make again" recipe list, but with some minor tweaking and  omissions.

Thank you Maggie.

As Maggie mentioned, tonight's recipes were user submitted recipes to the website. While that isn't a bad thing by itself - it does lead to some issues from time to time. The first being the obscene amount of pepper in this recipe. As I alluded to earlier, the rice was near flame inducing. There was way too much pepper in the rice - I would say 1/3 of a teaspoon at the most would be sufficient in this dish.

The romano chicken (covered in paprika, tarragon AND garlic salt) probably didn't help cool our palettes either. On it's own, the romano chicken would have been fine - with the onion rice, it was a little too much. (I.E. flame inducing)

I would alter tonight's lineup in two ways - first, I would add a wedge of lemon on the side of the chicken to help tame the spices a little without losing the flavor. (But, then again, I would add a wedge of lemon to ANY recipe to make it better!) Secondly, I would pair the chicken with a wild or basmati rice selection (unseasoned) and simply allow the neutral flavors of the rice to compliment the dish.

All in all, tonight's recipes weren't bad by any means. They just had a lot of room for improvement. This is not really the fault of Maggie - the fault falls on in this case. In addition to largely untested recipes - the site also has the fatal flaw of being VERY vague. As Maggie touched on, she had to ask for my advice multiple times with these recipes. This is all because the original author was not nearly thorough enough when posting their recipe online. I would not have wanted to see the end results of tonight's dishes had we just been starting out. It was only because I have a few months worth of experience under my belt now (not much, but a start) that I was able to "connect the dots" on what was supposed to happen in these dishes. Had we not encountered similar recipes before, we would have made MANY grave errors.

When it's all said and done, I don't think we'll be returning to anytime soon. The dishes are largely untested and the writing is anything but clear. We can end up with the same results (and have a whole lot more fun) by simply trying our own recipes in the future. We'll stick to the professional's guidelines - and pull off of their experiences to try our own experiments (and then will test OUR experiments before we share them with you!)

That's all we have for you tonight. Thank you once again for taking a few minutes out of you day to read our latest cooking adventure. I'm back tomorrow night with a 50% original recipe. (You'll see what I mean tomorrow. There's a picture below to give you a hint) Until then,


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