Saturday, January 12, 2013

Fried Chicken and Macaroni Pie-- Light AND Tasty!

What's your favorite food?  I have a hard time with that question, but fried chicken is definitely in my top five!  What do you think is the perfect side dish to fried chicken?  Mashed potatoes, for sure, but macaroni and cheese has to, again, make the top five!
Here's the thing, though, fried chicken and macaroni and cheese are not on anyone's diet plate.  I'm no calorie fanatic and even I think they are a bit much except for special occasions (like-- it's Tuesday!  Ha!  No, really!)  So when I saw a recipe for an "oven fried" chicken, I was NOT excited.  I've tried all kinds of recipes and have always been completely underwhelmed.  Well, this recipe is different!  It's from a book called, "Mrs. Whaley Entertains" that I picked up at an antique store a few months ago.  Mrs. Whaley was a Charleston socialite with a wonderful garden that she opened to the public for charity fundraisers.  She also was a fun-loving hostess that loved to give advice and parties.  Anyway, this chicken is baked in the oven, but uses only 1 Tbl. of oil.  I tweaked it a little to make it even more "low-cal" like removing the chicken skin and using a low-fat baking mix instead of the regular type.  It comes out tender and juicy with great flavor AND a crispy brown exterior that is delicious!  Using parchment paper also prevents all the yummy crust from sticking to the pan (have you ever had that happen?).
Now, the macaroni and cheese.  Mrs. Whaley calls this a "macaroni pie" and in fact, it isn't the creamy style mac and cheese that probably comes to mind.  It's more of a cheesey custard with macaroni.  Her recipe is not low-calorie, but I thought I'd try to lighten it up to make a yummy side dish that didn't cancel out the virtues of the chicken!  Ben and I liked the result, but you can decide for yourself.   You might miss the creaminess of regular mac and cheese too much!  But, if you're willing to think of this as a different and delicious alternative, I think you'll like it too!

Delicious Oven Fried Chicken (adapted from "Mrs. Whaley Entertains")
2/3 cup low-fat baking mix (like Bisquick or Pioneer)
1.5 tsp. paprika (I used the spicy kind!)
1.25 tsp. salt
1.25 tsp. ground black pepper (the regular, old fashioned kind-- not coarse grind)
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1 frying chicken, cut into pieces and skin removed (cut the breasts into two pieces so they aren't large)
1 Tbl. cooking oil
parchment paper
rimmed sheet pan (13x9 pan will do if all the chicken will fit without crowding)
more salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 425F.
Cut off and fold a piece of parchment paper to fit nicely onto the bottom of the sheet pan.  Pour the oil onto the paper and spread it around with your fingers.  You don't have to go clear to the edges.  Make sure the chicken pieces are dried well with paper towels and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper (not the measured amounts). 
Mix all the dry ingredients in a paper bag or large zip-lock bag.  Shake them around to mix well.  Add the chicken pieces and shake to coat them with the mixture.  Place the coated chicken on the oiled paper, tapping them a bit on the side of the bag to remove the excess coating.  Be sure the chicken pieces don't touch each other.  Bake for 35 minutes.  Turn the pieces over and bake another 20 more minutes or until cooked through.  Serve right away, or as with all good fried chicken, it tastes great room temperature or even cold as a midnight snack!

Macaroni Pie (adapted from "Mrs. Whaley Entertains"), makes 8 servings
8 oz. uncooked macaroni
8 oz. grated, extra sharp Cheddar cheese (you can use 2%, but I used the regular)
2 Tbl. butter, melted
1 whole egg and 1 egg white
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
2 cups 2% milk (heat in the microwave until warm)
Tabasco sauce

Preheat the oven to 350F.  Spray a 1.5 qt. casserole dish with PAM.  
Cook the macaroni in salted water as the package directs.  Drain and return to the pot.  Pour the butter over the macaroni and stir in 1/2 the cheese.  Pour into the casserole dish.
Beat the egg and egg white with the mustard, milk and a couple dashes of Tabasco sauce.  Pour over the macaroni and bake for 20 minutes.  Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top and bake for 10 to 15 minutes more, until the center is set (a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean).  
Allow to settle about 5 minutes before serving.

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