Wednesday, January 1, 2014

New Year; Old Chicken

This past Sunday, my parents came over bearing a gift from God: a family size meal from Popeyes chicken.

I have a love/hate relationship with Popeyes. From 1989-1992, we lived in Louisiana, and I remember Popeyes being the only fast food restaurant around, more so than McDonald's. Awesome, right? But, as a kid, I wasn't a fan of fried chicken. I liked the skin, but I hated the bones and I thought the chicken was too "wet." (I was a weird kid). In fact, I'd only eat the drumsticks because it had the least amount of chicken under that glorious fried skin. I'm not sure how or when it happened, but somewhere in the 3 years we lived in small town Louisiana, I soured on Popeyes and didn't try it again. 

This past summer, though, I found myself in a situation where Popeyes was the only dinner option. I've grown up a bit since 1991, and now I'm a far more sophisticated chicken eater (did I tell you about the time I ate 18 breaded barbecue chicken wings in 18 minutes? or when I ate an entire bucket of KFC in about half an hour? Classy dame.) so, I ordered a two piece and hoped for the best. 

If I couldn't remember what Popeyes fried chicken tasted like before, it is now permanently burned into my soul. For a fast food chain that's always been on the scary side of the trashy food spectrum (most Popeyes restaurants look like run down hobo shelters), the food is ridiculously good. The breading is perfectly golden and flavored, the chicken is tender and moist, the biscuits are buttery, salty, soft and flaky, the colesl---I could go on. 

So when my parents showed up with the bounty, and then told me I could have the left overs, I was pretty pumped. Free delicious and considerably unhealthy food! My idea of a good time, especially since I have to stretch every penny I have at the moment. Keeping Fiscal Responsibility in mind, I decided to stretch my chicken budget by picking the chicken apart from the bones and making chicken salad or chicken divan. Incidentally, I also ate about a pound of fried chicken skin (what else is there to do with it?), which left me breathing heavily and feeling distinct pains throughout the left side of my chest. The rest of the evening was just a greasy blur. Whoops. 

The next day, after I regained consciousness, I pledged I would use the left over chicken for healthier means. 

That resolve lasted, of course, for about 5 minutes. Out of nowhere, I got a craving for Buffalo Chicken Pizza. I'm not a fan of buffalo chicken wings, but I've had the pizza version, and it's delightful. So I went to the store to get a pizza crust, and saw a jar of Buffalo pizza sauce. It was $6. And it was across the aisle from all the hot sauces, including Frank's Red Hot. That's when I remembered that Mandy at M Cubed has a really simple recipe for it that involved Frank's Red Hot. And Frank's Red Hot is fantastic. And costs $1.29. Frugal!

I made the pizza tonight, and it was fantastic. Mandy's recipe uses homemade crust and buffalo chicken breast, but I took mine a step in the lazier direction by buying store bought crust, and obvs, using pre-cooked chicken. Regardless of how you do it, it's really simple, really delicious, and really bad for you.

M Cubed's Buffalo Chicken Pizza (lazy Audrey edition)

Steps 1-4: dice chicken and marinade in Frank's Red Hot; chop celery (I would have added onion if I had had an onion. Or the motivation to go to the store and get an onion.); watch Game of Thrones

Sauce Elements: Frank's Red Hot--I use Ketchup style because it spreads easier, and I'm still a bit of a hot sauce whuss, and this mix is milder. Also, a spoonful of Marie's Creamy Italian Garlic spread, i.e. the best spread I've ever tried. I typically hate ranch, but this is life changing. I put it on everything. 

Feel free to get as OCD as you feel while you're spreading the sauce. It took me 20 minutes because I can't let it sit unevenly at the crust. Yes, I'm in therapy.

Add layers of cheese and celery. I used mozzarella and sharp cheddar. The onion would have gone between the cheese and celery layer. I'm regretting not adding onion. 

Pile on marinated chicken.  If you use your hands, be sure you don't have excessively dry skin. Otherwise, Frank's Red Hot will set you on fire.

MOAR CHEESE. I don't understand when people say "That's too much cheese." Freaks. 

Bake at 350* until the reaches your desired level of doneness, typically 20-25 minutes. 

While that's baking, eat the mini-buffalo-chicken-salad that you made with the left over toppings. It's good. 

Et voila!

The result is a rich, cheesy, spicy deliciousness. I'm sure you could even make a low-calorie version of this and it would still be good. And I have lunch for tomorrow.

So, what's up 2014? I'm 1 day in and I've already stuck to my Resolution of Cooking New Foods, Not Wasting Food, and Saving Money.

I'll start the "eating healthier" thing next week.



Salmaan said...

Yumm, looks delicious!

Salmaan said...

Yum! Looks delicious!

Kim said...

Looks yummy!!!

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