Sunday, February 24, 2013

Shake 'n Bake Chicken: The Best Pedestrian Dinner You're Not Making

You may think I'm a bit crazy, but my family has been eating Shake 'n Bake since I was a child. And while I am a vegetarian, I have been eating chicken on and off throughout my life. Now, I've never cared for a full chicken breast or anything with bones, although as a child I did always enjoy tandoori chicken in Indian restaurants and that is usually legs and wings, but I have always enjoyed my mother's moist and juicy Shake 'n Bake chicken strips.  I never really thought much of it nor was I embarrassed about it until going to college when I was telling a friend that my mom makes the Shake. Her amusement and laughter were far unnecessary. What was wrong with Shakey Bakey? (Granted, at this time in life I had a deep affinity to the chicken tenders at TGI Fridays, so Shake 'n Bake wasn't that far off.)Was it considered poor people food? Was it just too banal of a meal? Was it the same as me saying that we ate canned creamed corn? (Images of Dan Conner consuming massive amounts of creamed corn come to mind, no?)

Whatever the reason, it then made me go into the closet when it came to S n B. I never told my mother and after I got married I made it on the regular in the closet.

It wasn't until I realized how common baked, breaded chicken was that reminded me of my friend's comment.  Seriously, if I use egg and bread crumbs, that's ok but just Shake n Bake is not? I don't understand! I've used bread crumbs before, mixed with some Parmesan cheese just so I could feel a little more culinarily sophisticated, but I found that the breading was far too soggy and I don't like having to add more cholesterol to the dish by adding in egg. The chicken has protein, I don't want to put egg on it too.

And so I went  back to my old school Shake 'n Bake. No, I don't use the bag, place the chicken and shake. I just pour the contents into a bowl and bread the chicken as if I'm using bread crumbs. It needs no adhesive to get the shakeys to stick to the chicken. It easily coats the chicken (or even pork chops, as I've tried before), and then I sprinkle some olive oil and water mid cooking and it makes the chicken moist, but not soggy. And of course, I marinade the chicken before coating with shakeys. Often times I use Indian spices a la my mom's traditional recipe, but on occasion I use fat free ranch dressing which Hubby loves.

Into the oven, ready to cook on a Pam sprayed, aluminum foiled baking sheet...

Out of the oven, after flipped mid way and more oil (or sometimes water) is sprinkled on to the chicken...

And so I've decided to come out of the proverbial closet and  hold my head up high and continue using Shake 'n Bake chicken. I'm throwing stereotypes to the wind and going to keep making the Shakes. Hubby loves it and so does my Sweet Pea, she'll gobble up the whole thing with her own hands! While leftovers usually don't taste as well, you have to hydrate the chicken by wrapping it in a moist paper towel and gently heat, because if you over heat it's far too chewy and difficult to consume, as poor Sweet Pea learned earlier this, it's still a dish worth making!

Sunday night's dinner, Shake n Bake chicken with couscous. Doesn't look pedestrian to me, does it? 


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