How It All Started

Bob Phillips

The title of this blog was inspired by one of my Spanish professor's at Miami University of Ohio, Dr. Robert Phillips, who died in the e...

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Best Chicken Made Even Better

Image from eBay
The main purpose of this blog has been to motivate us to dig deeper into some of the many cookbooks from which we had been using only one or two favorite recipes. Readers will know that this has helped us to tread many new culinary paths over the past several years, finding dozens of new food ideas.

Today's installment is not such a story. Rather, this is the story of a slight adjustment to an old favorite, as far as we know the only thing we have ever prepared from one of the smallest books on our cookbook shelf.

Before explaining what I prepared and how, I should share a few things I learned about this book. It is the 12th printing of a booklet of recipes -- called receipts -- from a restaurant with several outlets in the Kansas City area. I once lived on the Missouri side of the city, so I assumed this came from  my family kitchen somehow, though I remember neither the restaurant nor such a theft. And it turns out my assumption has to be wrong, since this was printed in 1987, seven years after I left KCMO.

Before today, I had never noticed that the booklet title refers to restaurants in the plural, a reference to three similar operations -- all of which resemble large-scale apple stands. More importantly, I had never noticed that this is a book of receipts -- more like the Spanish title of this blog than the English word. Or at least the most common English word. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the 14th (out of 17) definitions of the word receipt is a "statement of the ingredients and procedure required for making a dish or an item of food or drink" -- that is, a recipe. Citations for this usage are found from 1595 all the way into the 20th Century, but it is now considered archaic or even historic. It adds to the extreme quaintness of this little volume.

One more note about the book is that the original restaurants seem to have gone out of business, though the son of one of the founding brothers did try to revive the apple-themed family business. Restaurant critic Charles Ferruzza reveals his disdain for the effort in a review entitled Frittered Away. What do you really think, Mr. Ferruzza? Don't hold back!

World's Greatest Chicken

We made the Baked Chicken 'n' Butter and Cream fairly often before our daughter became a vegetarian. In our own defense, I must stipulate that it calls for milk, not cream, though there is no pretending that this is a lean recipe! Because she called it the "world's best chicken" back in those days, we decided to try it again last night.

The recipe appears at the link above an in the scanned page below. Rather than cut-up chicken pieces, we have usually used strips of chicken breast, as I did last night. One very unusual feature of this recipe is that it calls for powdered milk. This was a staple at Ten-Fourteen Crosby Road (the old Hayes Homestead), but I almost never had it as a kid. We keep it on hand for precisely two purposes: bread-machine recipes and this chicken dish.

To go with this ultimate comfort food, I also made my standard oven-roasted potatoes. I partially peeled a few potatoes (meaning that I left about half the skin on, a compromise) and cut them into cubes of a bit less than an inch. I then tossed them with about a glug of olive oil and then mixed in salt, pepper, and oregano. And here is the big difference: I usually add a lot of paprika to the potatoes, just as I was called upon to do for the chicken. Instead, I added a generous dusting of Old Bay to both, in a sense tying the two dishes together.

I cooked both at 400 using convection, putting the potatoes in first while I prepared the chicken. Once I added the milk to the chicken, I reduced the temperature to 350, and the overall time was a bit less than the recipe calls for, because the strips were smaller than chicken pieces. At the table, we topped the potatoes with cool, plain yogurt (which we often use in place of sour cream).

The verdict: Paloma found she is no longer "into" this kind of chicken, but Pam remarked that Old Bay had made the "world's best chicken" even better! My only real error was to pair this with a Muscat white wine, which is sweeter than I realized. An IPA or a dry wine would have been much better. Leftovers went very well with Pam's fresh-squeezed lemonade this afternoon!

Scanned from our copy. Notice that this "receipt" was always on the Stephenson's menu.
 BONUS:  Ham Roulade receipt, showing that these folks had no hesitation to bring a full range of dairy products to bear in any situation.

1 comment:

  1. Three observations: 1 - I received this cookbook as a "thank you" gift for speaking at the Pam American club in the Rio Grande Valley 20 years ago. 2 - we also use the powderd milk to make peanut butter balls. 3 - We have made a few other recipes from this book, including the ham roulades!