Friday, 25 September 2015

Vaguely Excusable Pieday

I admit, I had a different pie planned for today.
Apart from anything else it was an actual pie, as opposed to chicken nuggets and breaded mushrooms*.
This plan was tragically derailed by my traumatic experience last Saturday however.

It should have been a nice day out: we went out to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park then to a particularly good farm shop for lunch**.
All was going well until time came for dessert and I saw, in the cabinet, beside the many-coloured, many-layered fancified figments that made up the rest of the contents, a pecan pie.
Naturally I had to order it.
Dessert, and coffee were delivered to our table and the girls dove into some squelchingly sumptuous looking gateaux*** while I nibbled a forkful of my pie.
And then, disaster.
The pie was not as good as mine.
Understand that there was nothing wrong with it, it was a perfectly good pie, syrupy for my tastes, but an entirely reasonable representative of the Pecan nation and all it stands for****.
It just wasn't as good as my pie.
I was sitting, in a restaurant, thinking that the food I had been served was inferior to my own.
I had been suddenly and irrevocably confronted with the inevitable truth.
I am officially old.

So naturally after all that I had no choice but to abandon any plans to make a proper pie and to instead create something unhealthy, impractical and barely deserving of the word pie.

We made chicken nuggets.

We also made breaded mushroom things, because some of us don't eat meat


Enough chicken breast, mushrooms, lumps of quorn or whatever-the-hell-else you plan on cooking to go round
Milk, yoghurt or buttermilk (enough to cover the things-to-be-breaded when placed in a bowl)
Rice Crispies, or Ritz crackers, or Panko breadcrumbs, or something that'll work as a coating*****
Hard cheeses of your choice, or that soya-flour cheese flavoured stuff, or nothing at all
Marinade ingredients of your choice******
Cooking oil.

First chop your breadable-things into pieces and dump in a bowl.
Add the marinade ingredients and then enough milk, buttermilk or yoghurt******* to cover everything, place in the fridge then go away to watch cartoons and mourn the death of your youth.
But make them horror cartoons, because there has to be some point to being a grown up.
Wonder if you made good choices in your life.

Realise there is another upside to adulthood when alerted to it by the presence of the bright eyed and bushy tailed Chefs Small and Smaller, the one wielding a bag full of library books and the other asking whether it is time to cook the chicken yet.
Drag the kids to the library.

When you have spent a full day chasing after your manic offspring and are starting to reassess that whole "upside" thing, take out and drain your bowl full of lumps.

Put some cornflour into a sandwich bag ********.
Beat the egg in a bowl or mug.
Grate a couple of table spoons of the hard cheese, or sprinkle out about half a teaspoon of that weird cheese flavoured stuff.
Crush whatever you're going to use as a coating and mix it with the cheese or fake cheese powder on a large plate.
If you're trying to crush Panko give up: they are pre-crushed.
Set out a production line: cornflour, egg, plate of crumbly stuff and either a plate or an oiled baking tray at the end, depending on whether you intend to fry or bake your resulting nuggety thingummies.
Pre-heat the oven if you're planning on baking them.

Drop one of your whatever-lumps into the cornflour bag, twist the top to seal it tightly and award to whichever chef has been least obnoxious recently.
Allow said chef to cha-cha round the kitchen shaking the bag like a maraca until the blob is thoroughly coated.
Drop the blob into the egg, fish it out again, dump it on the plate and roll it about till lightly coated, then transfer to the receiving plate or tray.
Do exactly the same thing with all the other lumps.
When you get sick of doing it properly start just throwing in batches: they'll all get somewhat coated and that's all that really matters.
Observe that Small Chef's fingers are now rather more heavily breaded than the mushrooms.
Send Small Chef to wash her hands.
Quickly finish most of the lumps leaving just a couple for Small Chef to do, so she won't notice.
Apologise for finishing off most of the lumps.
And for doubting her powers of observation.

Put lumps of mushroom on the tray in the oven at whatever heat you like: they're mushroom, they won't care.
For chicken blobs you should probably be more careful so settle for around 200 celsius, for fifteen to twenty minutes, flipping them over at least once and poking them before you take them out to see if they're pink in the middle (they shouldn't be...I think).
Or just give up any pretence of healthiness and fry the beggars.

Tip for vegetarians: if making chicken nuggets get a meat eater to handle the breading and cooking.
That way you don't have to explain why Mummy is handling the chicken pieces with extra long cooking chopsticks while holding her breath and pretending to smile.
You also get to listen to Smaller Chef pretending to pay attention to a lecture on food safety.
And you don't have to keep poking the cooking nuggets to see if they're cooked when, honestly, you have no idea what properly cooked chicken should look like.

Serve with coleslaw, a variety of dipping sauces and either chips or sweet potato chips.

Save the left overs to eat cold the next day.
Because you're a grown-up and can do things like that.

*Crust, filling, pie.
Get over it.

**Blacker Hall Farm, their vegetarian platter thingy is rather good.

***Eleanor's was a mocha-cake, with coffee beans on top.
This may have been a mistake on our part.

****I probably shouldn't blog while Avatar is on.

*****Honestly, use crushed Doritos for all I care.

******We went with black garlic, lemon and thyme, but you could use garlic, ginger and cumin (in which case, skip the cheese) or something of your own devising.

*******You know, you could probably use something completely non-dairy-related here, if you wanted.

********If you don't have one, do this bit in a bowl, but expect clouds of cornflour to go everywhere.

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