Applegate Farms Gluten-Free Chicken Nuggets

I miss McDonald’s. They tweeted me the other day and I didn’t have the heart to tell them how much I loved them and wanted them back. I’ve been pulling up to the local franchise on North Beacon, standing outside with my trusty Sounddock cued up to ‘In Your Eyes.’ The neighbors really didn’t like that, but it’s for love, y’know?
I have also scared The Bedfellow on two occasions when she was eating a McDouble, the first culminating in the screamed repetition of ‘BREEEAAAADDDDDD’ along with an accusatory finger point, and the second was a little more subtle, the silent but ever-powerful ‘Hungry Dog’ look.

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Please note that this also happens with real cupcakes. But I’m getting help. I’m looking for solutions. One of those may or may not be the scarily reasonably-priced chicken nuggets from Applegate Farms. I get them from the Stop and Shop that has all of the gluten-free things, and then go to the Stop and Shop with the wide array of tortillas and better sauces. For a mere $5, I have the power of 16 chicken nuggets. They’re about 75% smaller than Mickey D’s, almost closer to popcorn chicken, and come with a selection of zero dipping sauces, but work out pretty well in the price department.

In fact, they actually remind me of my own homemade nuggets, may their recipe rest in peace. Rest in pie. Ress in pee. I give up, there’s no joke there. They are coated in a mixture of corn starch and rice flour, which could be pretty easy to replicate. I dipped them in hot mustard. Because the breading is somewhat yellowed to begin with, it’s difficult to tell when they are finished. I tested one for quality assurance and found that the breading was somewhat sticky when they were undercooked, but eventually crisped up with no trouble at all. And while I’m happy to flip over the nuggets to ensure maximum crunch, doing so with such delicate breading is frustrating.

Despite the slight fumbles, though, these are an amazing substitute for nuggets or any breaded chicken, if you’re patient and can get the breading very crispy. The chicken is tender and moist, with a thick, crispy coating, heavy on the black pepper. Dipped in hot mustard, there’s nothing better.
Also, because I’m an adult, I ate them on top of my recently paid insurance bills, hashtag classy, like a boss, or comparable bill-paying figure. I’m curious to see how these would be if I fried them, too. Ultimately, it’s something I would buy again. It’s easy to eat a box as a meal when you’re not in the mood to cook.

Roast Chicken with Wasabi Goat Cheese and Tart Cherries and a Free Long-Winded Post!

Woof. I mean, like, really, woof. Emphasis on the woof part. If you came to the site for the insightful commentary on food, history, charming personal anecdotes about DH and the kids, and artful photography, get the hell out. For the next three years, I’m going to be complaining about Connecticut, law school, gluten, and home decor!

For the remaining three of you, Mom included, you’ll be pleased to know that my roving bachelor lifestyle has allowed me plenty of time to cook and study in equal amounts. It was refreshing to come back from a study session after a beast of a contracts case in anticipation of the meal I’d planned for The Bedfellow and I. I’ve finally finished my first week of law school- just 150 more of them, and I’ll officially be an attorney. Cool, right?

On another note, I’ve been trying to find ways to cook and interact with this new change in diet. As of this moment, I’ve cut approximately 98% of gluten out of my diet. It’s really difficult, but the change is positive and just makes me feel much better than I’ve been feeling. I’ve tried to take a centrist approach to it, in that I’m not eating gluten unless I’m presented with something so incredible, ephemeral, and perfect that the benefits outweigh the risks. Then, I can work around the crippling headache, chills, itchiness, tightness in my skin, sweats, general fatigue, and muscle aches.

As a note, and for clarification, I don’t profess to have any official gluten allergy or celiac’s disease. I have not been diagnosed by a doctor, nor have I made any other significant changes other than realizing the issue at hand- namely, that when I eat gluten, my body feels awful almost immediately after. It’s as simple as that, and I’ve been working to alter my diet to reflect this new need. Don’t think that I’m not trying to resist it, either. I broke the other night and ate a cookie and paid for it in physical ramifications severe enough to force me to lie down for a few hours until they subsided. It’s hellish and strange, but I’m working through it. I won’t stop looking for the best brownie until I’ve exhaustively worked through the long list of gluten-free products. And you’ll still see plenty of gluten-ridden products on the website, but The Bedfellow will be tasting them and relaying her notes to me instead. This isn’t so bad. Hopefully, it will encourage me to make healthier changes, and the ensuing energy and good feelings will help me maintain them.

So, last night, I made us roasted chicken roulades with wasabi goat cheese and tart cherries. The recipe was easy, and came from an abundance of food in my new apartment. (Thanks, Mom and Dad!) I had a little round of chevre from Capri that I was excited to use, and The Bedfellow brought some powdered wasabi over. I pounded the chicken flat, and added the cherries, which I’d roasted with lemon salt and olive oil, to the cheese and stuffed the breasts with it. I roasted them in the juices leftover from the cherries, and topped them with wasabi powder and a little more lemon salt.

They were delicious, filling, and pleasantly spicy. This rambling, of course, is both to let you know that I haven’t overdosed on ramen noodles in a fit of panic with school, and also to announce Cookbook Week, which I’ll be starting next Friday. I have seven cookbooks, and I’ll be cooking a recipe from each, all gluten-free, to share with you and give you thoughts on my results. This one was my own, of course, but my trials and tribulations will be broadcasted as they come.

Enjoy!

Foodette
(Bonus GF Gratify pretzel and smoked almond chicken tenders with hot mustard pic!)

Lean Cuisine Salad Additions Asian-Style Chicken

This week on Chopped: Pre-Spring Break Edition, or as we call it behind the scenes, “Fuck, fuck, fuck, What am I supposed to do with all of this hummus?” we encounter a plethora of ingredients our intrepid chef has never reached for before, much less made the effort to consume, including, but not limited to granola-infused peanut butter, a sack of clementines atop a bookshelf that came off as clever and hip, but quickly rotted, a haircut inspired by Marlon Brando and a Titanic-era Leonardo DiCaprio, and aging Lean Cuisine Salad Additions.

Spoiler alert, also, real talk: do I look like the type to eat salads? Absolutely none of the current stereotypes I cuddle up to would eat a salad, I know this because I’ve tried and failed. So, Lean Cuisine, that, and my apathy about buying vegetables in quantities not befitting a single, dour human being compels me to try your new kits with spaghetti. Store-brand spaghetti, that chicken is too pallid for the fresh stuff. That, and the fact that it took about 15 minutes before I realized that filling my Firefox tabs with recipes and looking at them would not suffice my actual bodily hunger. Tant pis.

I’m not including a recipe because it’s a little reprehensible, but suffice to say, it includes peanut butter, a ginger-sesame dressing out of a salad kit, copious amounts of hot sauce, and closed doors. However, I also realize none of you read this blog for moral culpability, so I’m inclined to also tell you solely because it doesn’t entirely matter. This salad kit is delicious when it isn’t used for salad. My favorite part? The pineapple and yellow carrot pieces. While I may not have prepared this correctly- I don’t own a microwave and don’t care to go to the convenience store to ape theirs five blocks away, so I thawed the chicken and veggies instead for a few hours, that may have been what improved them. Sticking them in the microwave, according to conspiracy theorists and eco-minimalists, leeches all of the flavor out of them and renders them mushy and unpalatable. Here, they retained a little snap and remained firm and bright. Paired with chow mein noodles tossed in sriracha (noodle-on-noodle action) it was a great dinner, and two more great lunches.

Also, holy chicken, Batman. Either corporations are getting hella deft at mimicking food (a quick glance to the ingredients reveals this to be slightly true, modified tapioca starch) or they’re just using better chicken. This tastes, feels, and for all intensive purposes, is real and quite tasty. And better than buying and/or thawing large chicken breasts. So, Lean Cuisine, my lassitude is your gain. Four for you, Glen Coco.

McDo Casse Croute Menu: Poulet-Poivre, Oriental, and Mixte Sandwiches

France, you did it! You’ve come through and all but virtually guaranteed my eating nothing but fast food for the remainder of my time here. I’m a disappointment to all who know me, but it’s okay because limited edition. McDo France has released three new sandwiches to celebrate me, I assume. Too bad they’re terrible, but we’ll get to that. McDo’s Le Casse Croute menu features a sandwich and a medium drink for 4,50 Euro, or $66,000 USD as far as I’m now concerned. The sandwiches, the Oriental, Asian-flavored burger patty with the onerously named Oriental sauce, the Poulet-Poivre, or chicken with pepper sauce, and the Mixte, with ham and Emmental cheese, are all atop a McBaguette (my love, I have been waiting for so long to type such sweet words) and adorned with potato patties.

I bought all three sandwiches. Interestingly enough, despite refusing the drink, the server insisted upon it, even though the emotional line between carrying three sandwiches to your apartment for “research” is suddenly crossed when you bring three overflowing things of soda upstairs, too. Now I have three miniature bottles of water forming an impenetrable barrier between the sandwiches and me, which is good, because they kind of suck.

Let’s deconstruct this Derrida-style, old-school, call me MacDaddy because I’m into making postmodern phallocentric references rich in cultural capital in order to maximize the time you spend on this site. Zing, am I right? Anyway, the sandwiches themselves happen to be chiasmus-angia combos. Meat, bread, potato, and sauce, though the quality is wildly different between the three. The Poulet-Poivre was my favorite, and the only sandwich I finished in its entirety. I will gladly state that for the cardiologist’s record, too. It was really just a sliced chicken patty, but it had the most fillings and the best balance of flavor, with the pepper sauce providing a zesty lubrication to the whole shebang. Vastly improved with a few shakes of hot sauce. My only complaint was that I wasn’t crazy about the fried-on-fried element of the potatoes and the chicken. It was a little too much.
The baguettes themselves, at least for 1er arrondissement standards, are not half bad. You wouldn’t confuse them for actual bread, but they mimic the sensation of bread fairly well, with a sweet, malty flavor and very crisp crust. The inside is soft and spongy, and surprisingly moist. They are also, in true McDo standards, enormous. The sandwiches require a momentary and snake-like unhinging of the jaw to fully enjoy.

And that was where things started to go downhill. I tried the Mixte next, because I was curious about how the combination of hot potato patties and cold cuts would be. It seemed like something I’d have made at home. Indeed, the cool and hot element was nice- the cheese was underneath the ham and on top of the patties, so it melted slightly, and would have been the dominant flavor in the sandwich, had McDo not tried to make it more exciting. The real Britta of the group was the fromage blanc, or white cheese sauce. It was more like white cheese mayonnaise, and it sucked. It took a clever idea and turned it into a stoner’s nightmare, where everything tastes like nacho cheese sauce and resembles your stepmom’s house.

The Oriental was up next, and if I’d thought the Mixte had won points for sucking and having the cruelest of all flavors, I was wrong. This took the cake. In its defense, it was certainly Asiatic in flavor, the problem being that the interpretation of Asiatic was apparently sourced from that one strip mall Chinese restaurant in the middle of Milwaukee with kind of okay lo mein and a shitton of soy sauce. The patties had to have been soaked in soy sauce, as they were inedibly salty and had a strange, powdery glaze on them. The sauce was nearly inedible- it was sour and creamy with a melange of spices, two of which were definitely caraway and garam masala. Completely disgusting.
So, these were a gamble, and a fairly disappointing one. The one consistently positive aspect about these is that they’re a great value- they are not snack-sized sandwiches and would definitely be a substantial lunch, considering that the potato patties also omit the need to get fries, although for your 5 Euro you could just as easily get a kebab with frites. Unfortunately, the flavors are way off the mark and are probably a bit too experimental for the French fast food palate.

KFC Boxmaster Grande

One of my favorite restaurants in American really isn’t American at all—Marseilles, in Manhattan, is a replica of a French brasserie. So, given my love of meta-everything, it seemed befitting to hit up the least French restaurant on my second day in Paris—KFC. And yes, that’s a hostess desk you see off to the right. KFC Restaurant is extremely popular in Paris, especially among the younger set of students. On my visit, I didn’t see any American tourists, but the place was still packed. That being said, I wanted to get something a little over the ordinary on my first visit, and the Boxmaster Grande spoke to me in a way that only contextually removed “foreign” flavors can. Packed with spicy chicken, lettuce, tomato, cheese, salsa, guacamole, and inexplicably, a hash brown wrapped in a giant tortilla, it seemed too good (bad?) to pass up.

 And as an added bonus, even after a short walk and a sprint up the six flights of 124 stairs (but how about that view?!) to get to my apartment, it came out perfectly preserved, looking identical to the promotional photo. If you think that our advertising preys on our emotions because occasionally Big Ronald tosses out a “happy” in front of an item to make you feel good, French fast food packaging takes it to a whole other level. Look at the word cloud surrounding Limited Edition—the color blends in with the package so that on some level, you might not even notice it.
Look a little closer and you’ll see that the Boxmaster all but promises you ultimate success, fulfillment, and the energy to live a “100% good” life, at least while you’re eating. The Boxmaster Grande is good—maybe not 100% good, but certainly a tasty and consistent fast food item. The components stay true to the Mexican theme and deliver on the spice without depending on one particular flavor. The chicken was tender, but extremely dry. Luckily, it had a real paprika-boosted kick to it and wasn’t too salty. Because it was pre-made, patches of it were soaked and mushy, an unpleasant surprise, but for the most part, it was crispy.
The accompanying toppings were a mixed bag. The vegetables, three thin slices of tomato and lettuce, were fresh and crisp and gave a nice contrast to the fried and dairy components. The cheese was undistinguished and disappeared under the deluge of bolder flavors. The two side sauces couldn’t have been more polarized. The guacamole was thick and chunky, with pieces of tomato and onion inside. It was as good as Chipotle or On the Border’s guac, and came dabbed in the lettuce like a side salad of its own. The so-called “zesty” salsa, atop the hash brown, was thin and watery and ended up tasting like a ketchup someone had accidentally dumped a boatload of paprika into. The hash brown served as a filler item, albeit a clever one, and ended up squeezing into areas the chicken didn’t cover.

 Overall, I liked getting this, even if it was just as a novelty item. Fast food is not something that I’ll be eating often, due to the aforementioned strange prices, but the KFC looks like it tests out some pretty fun products from time to time. Even if the Boxmaster didn’t quite make the mark, it was still a clever and familiar set of flavors for me. I’m looking forward to seeing KFC take a note from Burger King Japan- caviar and lobster Boxmaster would be worth the price!

Wendy’s New Smoky Honey Mustard and Asiago Ranch Grilled Chicken Flatbread Sandwiches

I’ve got to admit, I don’t make it out to Wendy’s often. It’s not the restaurant’s fault, but the location of the closest one is within a quick radius of at least three other good restaurants, a Trader Joe’s, and is halfway between home and school, so it’s rare that I’m ever making a pit stop. Tonight, though, I found myself with a block of spare time and a nagging parched feeling, so I decided to stop for a soda for the ride home, remembering I’d had a gift card for the new ranch guacamole chicken sandwich to try out.
However, when I saw an advertisement for two new varieties of grilled chicken flatbread tucked behind some bushes, I couldn’t help myself. As luck would have it, they happened to be out of guacamole as well. I was initially apprehensive because from the angle my car was at, all I could see was “smoky honey-” and I reasoned that if the next word was “BBQ” I’d just pass. Fast food barbecue is nothing exciting and the bulk of them are overly sugared and sticky, but it turns out that I was in luck. Smoky honey mustard and asiago ranch awaited me along with a cool drink.

They also explicitly advertised the sandwich in a generic “fancy food” font and had a strange sign (presumably for people with allergies to butter? Or a desire for fine dining at fast food prices?) informing customers that the flatbread sandwiches were prepared with butter. All righty, then!

For $3.99 plus tax, the flatbreads provide a decent value and an excellent quality. After a little research, I found that the chain has been testing four varieties for the last five months, switching up the flavor combinations and offering two others in addition to the two mentioned above, smoky apple barbecue (though whether that’s applewood or apple fruit, I don’t know) and caprese. They’re packaged in a special brown-bag wrapper with instructions to rip and grip for eating on the go.

Right from the get-go, it was easy to see that these were not your average fast food chicken sandwich. The smoky honey mustard sandwich features grilled, seasoned chicken, a blend of lettuce and arugula, tomato slices, and a smoky honey mustard sauce atop a whole-grain flatbread. The asiago ranch flatbread, like its sandwich counterpart, features the same meat and vegetables, but adds on a slice of asiago cheese, ranch dressing, and crispy bacon.
The two flatbreads were exceptional. Although the format of the whole-grain bread has the surreptitious flavor profile of a mother trying to sneak vegetables into her kid’s food- a highly sweetened honey flavor to detract from the crunchy nuts and seeds and a toasty exterior so that nobody notices the bread isn’t blindingly white, it’s still a valiant attempt at vending whole grains on a large scale.The bread has a nice chew to it while still remaining yielding and is soft, holding together all the toppings without falling apart.

I felt like the honey mustard sandwich was the less balanced of the two. While I’m always up for a condiment-centric sandwich, there was no smokiness to be found in the sauce and its sweetness only enhanced the sugars in the bread. I would have liked to see a little more bite to this sauce, from something like paprika or even horseradish. However, the vegetables were crisp and fresh and the chicken was moist, tender, and lightly seasoned with a blend of spices that cut some of the cloying flavor. The sandwich contained about a half of a pounded, but still relatively thick, chicken breast, and was very filling.
We unanimously preferred the flavors in the asiago ranch sandwich– it’s definitely one I’d get again if I needed a quick meal.  For whatever reason, the tomato in this one was much pinker and anemic-looking, and tasted less fresh. The remaining components were amazing, though- the slice of included bacon was thick, chewy, and even a little crispy at the ends. It balanced out the bread wonderfully along with the sharp tang of the asiago, slightly melted from the heat of the chicken.
Like the other sandwich, the lettuce added a welcomed bitter contrast to the rich flavors and was bound together by the ranch sauce, which was strong enough to give a kick to the whole package, but didn’t overpower any one ingredient.

All in all, I was really impressed with these. The interesting ingredient combinations and  high-quality feel of the sandwich gave me deli or coffee shop quality at a fast food prices. I’ve seen things like this sell for around eight bucks at organic coffee places, so this is a wonderful compromise. I’d love to see new versions of these on the market soon!

Nostalgia Week #7: Copycat McNuggets

Rolling out the big ones for our last day of Nostalgia Week. And if you’re lucky, I’ll do it again around Foodette’s birthday with a big, awesome lunchbox giveaway. The response we got to this was crazy! If we do decide to do a VH1 copycat of “We Love Nostalgia Week” was there anything we didn’t get to this time around that you’d like to see us scout out?
The quest for the perfect chicken nuggets has spanned far more than just this week’s set of postings. As nugget aficionados and six-year olds in disguise, we’ve been tinkering with the recipe for well over six months. Our conditions: the nuggets had to be baked, they couldn’t use more than two tablespoons of oil or any xanthan gum or strange ingredients, and they had to be really crispy and nearly identical to McNuggets from McDonald’s. With those rules in mind, we developed a Frankensteinian recipe with amazing results using a few different starches for batter and a guilt-free chicken goo to mimic the shapes of the noble nugget. Make them adult-friendly with an assortment of Robert Rothschild dipping sauces like we did!
Copycat McNuggets
Ingredients (makes 35-45 depending on size)
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 boneless skinless chicken thighs
1 tablespoon of light corn syrup
1/3 cup of plain, unseasoned bread crumbs
3 tablespoons of yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons of flour
3 eggs
Hot sauce to taste
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons of corn oil
1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. In a food processor, combine salt, pepper, chicken, and corn syrup. Blend until it resembles a thick, pink paste.
2. Place flour in one bowl, egg and hot sauce in another, and bread crumbs, cornmeal, flour, and seasonings in another to create your breading station. I like to mix up my bread crumb mixture first and put it in a bag, replenishing the bowl if I run out so that whatever I don’t use can be repurposed for the next batch and isn’t contaminated by the raw chicken. Scoop tablespoons of the chicken mixture out and coat them in flour, shaping them as you go along. Dip in the egg and coat in the bread crumb mixture and place on plate or cutting board.
3. Spread an even layer of oil on your baking sheet and place the nuggets on top. Cook in oven for 10-12 minutes per side and flip with two forks, working carefully so that the breading does not fall off. Serve with condiments and eat immediately. These also keep exceptionally well for a day or two in the refrigerator.

Nostalgia Week #6: Kid Cuisine Bug Safari Chicken Breast Nuggets

This was always the consolation prize of babysitting night- when your parents didn’t trust the sitter to go out and not buy drugs with the pizza money, Kid Cuisine was on the menu. And if they really hated the baby sitter, they left her one, too. When I was little, Kid Cuisine came in more varieties than you could count on all of your hands and they always seemed to be testing some child-formulated version of lazy adult products. Salisbury steak, taquitos, and a knock-off of Ellios’s whizzed through the freezer.
I distinctly remember having this once, not because my parents never went out, but because they figured out very quickly that children could also be sustained by leftover duck confit, raisins, and salt-free almonds when left to their own devices. “Canape night! My favorite!” A phrase we never uttered. Today I took one for the team and sampled the least unappealing version of KC that I could find, fun shaped chicken breast nuggets. Though, not gonna lie, I would have loved to find miniature corn dogs to flick at my cats.
The presentation and preparation is overly complex and strange. I gauged myself at being around the stumbling motor capability of a small, dull child as I was hung over from last night’s celebration of Thursday. To read multiple paragraphs about taking out chicken nuggets and putting them back in, gently stirring corn and macaroni and cheese, and not microwaving gummy bugs felt beyond my skill set so I just nuked the savories and kept out the sweets. The gummies were housed in a package that kept them dry but absorbed all the savory flavors, adding insult to injury by not providing them their own separate compartment to rest in prior to consumption. Those suckers had to sit next to the nuggets.
The meal is perfect for children as it is completely devoid of texture, seasoning, and any remote resemblance to the food it is inspired by. Change its color or put some foam on it and it’s practically a Wylie Dufresne kid’s menu. I mean, just look at that macaroni. It has some serious issues brewing beneath its taut, taupe skin. I want to sit it down and refer it to a good psychoanalyst, maybe buy it a drink and just sit back and listen. Kid Cuisine is no place for authentic Italian elbow noodles, I’m sure. It had bigger dreams at one point, but now…just look at it. The nuggets are placidly bouncy and squishy. I’m sure that was intentional but it’s doubly disturbing as they are shaped like bugs.
If you really have to eat this, you could look at it as a more homogenized, muted version of the KFC famous bowl. Like said bowl, it also tastes like a healthy dousing of arrhythmia-topped dairy with a few vaguely crispy nuggets thrown in for protein. Also this dinner is basically a pussy magnet if you have two cats and they can smell chicken from three miles away like ours can. There’s nothing wrong with it, per se, it’s just not as condiment and flavor laden as I typically like my food to be. I wish Kid Cuisine had gone the duck confit route and incorporated just a little more oomph to these. Kids should know what coriander tastes like by their sixth birthday.

Tikka Masala Enchiladas with Cilantro Jalapeno Crema

I have a problem? An enchilada problem? No. No, no, no, no- you’re the one with a problem. I won’t hear anything else. The problem- your problem, mind you, is that you don’t have a forkful of these crammed in your mouth right now. That’s the story and I’m sticking to it.
These all started when Miss Love, weary of my enchilada fixation, casually suggested we eat something different for dinner outside of the six versions of faux-Mexican we’ve eaten in the last month. As if. Something with a little less corn tortilla and tomatillo. Something with curry, with grapes, with bread, with anything but chicken and hot sauce. Unfortunately, I’d just finished the last of our previous batch of enchiladas and really wanted more. She, in all her wily form, went straight for the heart and suggested chicken tikka masala, one of my favorite dishes.
What I countered with may have changed our eating patterns forever. “How about chicken tikka enchiladas?” And so it began. It wasn’t like we planned on layering charred pieces of chicken marinated in a revamped Russian dressing on corn tortillas with cheese, tikka masala sauce, and topping them with a cilantro jalapeno crema. It wasn’t like we anticipated nearly inhaling the whole pan all the while discussing how good tomorrow’s lunch would be. It wasn’t like we predicted that during all of this, the kitten would teach herself to adhere to the screen door, grapple her way up to the door frame, and balance atop it yelling until we took her down.
And yet, it all came together beautifully. Two stubborn women were momentarily quiet as they ate their dinner, two cats cried for chicken, and the lemony, spicy, sweet, meaty goodness of these enchiladas proved to me that arguing with your lady can sometimes bring wonderful things. Namely, more enchiladas.
Chicken Tikka Enchiladas with Cilantro Jalapeno Crema
Ingredients (serves 4)
3 large boneless and skinless chicken breasts
1/3 cup of sour cream
1/3 cup of spicy ketchup
1/4 teaspoon of minced garlic
2 teaspoons of hot sauce
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 teaspoon roasted ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon chili powder
Dash of red wine
Salt and pepper to taste
1 jar of tikka masala sauce
12 corn tortillas
1 1/2 cups of sharp cheddar cheese
Cilantro jalapeno crema on top
Cilantro Jalapeno Crema
Ingredients (makes about 1 cup)
1 cup of chopped cilantro
2 jalapenos, deseeded and cored
1/3 cup of sour cream
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Salt to taste
1. Set your oven on broil and prepare your sour cream marinade. Salt and pepper your chicken breasts. Mix together sour cream, the garlic, the spices, and spicy ketchup. Taste and adjust as needed and spread over chicken breasts on a foil-lined baking sheet.
2. Depending on how thick the breasts are, they will need to broil for 12-14 minutes on each side or until cooked and crispy. While they are broiling, prepare the crema by placing all ingredients in a blender or food processor and blending until combined and chopped. Grate the cheddar cheese and set it aside.
3. When the chicken is cool and easy to handle, chop it into bite sized chunks. Heat half of the tikka sauce on the stovetop and dip the tortillas in, one at a time, letting them sit for a few seconds until they are soft. Place the chicken in a bowl and pour more sauce into the bottom of the saucepan, enough to cover the bottom.
4. To assemble the enchiladas, place a few tablespoons of chicken in the tortilla and top with cheese. Roll them up and set them in the pan, lined up until the pan is full.
5. Pour the remaining tikka masala sauce over the top and sprinkle with cheese. Heat on low until cheese is melted and bubbly. Serve with crema and hot sauce to taste.
And we never argued again.

Burger King’s New Chicken Strips and Roasted Jalapeno BBQ and Kung Pao Sauces

Now that the iconic fear-paralyzed face of the Burger King royalty is gone, who will usurp the noble throne? Built on ketchup slicks and nuggets seized from the crownius region of the chicken, the fast food restaurant has decreed a complete overhaul of its restaurants. My local BK, not a king, but not yet a lounge, has been partially remodeled but is stuck in a strange dead zone where the only recognizable theme is the leftover St. Patrick’s Day decorations from last week.
Aside from the new menu cards, BK has introduced a few new menu items, expanding to the cafe-style foods and coffee beverages to garner business from some of their obvious competition from Ronald the Court Jester. I guess if they play their cards right and assume that the law of gravity holds, it would be the most obvious and closest place for me to go for a mediocre frappe. But only if my Rascal stopped working and I had to…walk. Along with these, they’ve introduced a new chicken strip to go along with their new chicken tenders, released around this time next year. T’wasn’t the poultry that intrigued me, but rather, the debut of their two newest sauces, Kung Pao and Roasted Jalapeno BBQ, that carried me into my local establishment on this, the day of the newly released chicken strip.
Touting the strips in both a 3 and a 5 pack for $3.29 and $4.49, respectively, it works out to just over a dollar a strip if you’re going for the small pack. Not the most economical choice unless you’re just really, really into chicken strips. The strips are billed as being marinated and breaded in a seasoned coating, but eaten plain, salty, mediocre chicken was the only noticeable flavor. The breading was crisp, but lacked the crunchiness its counterparts have in abundance and clung closely to the chicken like a too-tight tube top on a girl making a duck face on Facebook. It was surprisingly devoid of oil, but left a very salty, onion-heavy aftertaste and had a bone-dry chewiness more appropriate on jerky than chicken. Only one of the strips was longer than a ballpoint pen and all were tough in texture. Hideously underwhelming, and they made me glad I’d anticipated the worst and bought a cheeseburger to eat instead.
I figured the sauces would be my saving grace for these strips, and let’s face it, they were really just a vehicle for them anyhow. Boasted as being “totally sweet” by my server, the new sauces don’t try to mimic anything I’ve seen from the competition. They blaze their own trail. The roasted jalapeno barbecue suffered from a lack of two things- enthusiasm and proper nomenclature. Assuming that titles as well as ingredients are listed in their order of amount from largest to smallest, I came into this carrying the expectation that “roasted jalapeno barbecue” would be peppers first and barbecue second. Not a chance, unfortunately. It was gummy and sweet when sampled on a spoon, with a heavy brown sugar assault and the clean, lingering bite of jalapeno peppers after. But eaten with the chicken strips or spread on a little bite of burger, the spiciness drowned in the rich ingredients that outnumbered it, leaving a generically sweet flavor with a touch of cayenne, like Sweet Baby Ray’s. I would have loved if there had been chunks of fresh pepper in this or even pickled rings.
The Kung Pao sauce, on the other hand, was perfectly executed and tasted like delicious, cheap Chinese takeout sauce with a more pronounced set of flavors. Hell, this even encompassed some of the cheaper takeout chicken sauces, at least around here. Wafting sharp, sweet pickled ginger aromas from the moment I opened the packet, I knew this would be a great addition to the sauce line. I’ll give it this- it completely blows McDonald’s Sweet Chili out of the water. This sauce had large pieces of ginger, garlic, and crushed red pepper flakes and brought an umami-laden depth to the traditional flavor profile of sweet and sour with an aggressive, lingering spice. Slightly tinny at first, but nothing repulsive. This was the only sauce we went back for seconds on.
I’m not typically crazy about fast food chicken as I’ve started making my own nuggets at home, but the new sauces are unique enough that I’d definitely consider getting the Kung Pao if I were ever at a loss for condiments around the house. Not that that will ever happen, but it’s a pleasant deviation from the standard ketchup ‘n’ mustard set.