Here’s Fair Warning, Chef Kev Rides Again

by Kevin Burton

   Guess what, I’m going to be on a cooking show!

   The dickens you say…..

   Yeah, I’m going to be the stuffed turkey! (ba-dum-bum). 

   These are the jokes kids. God help me, here I go. But me in the kitchen, no laughing matter.

   And actually I should say I’ve already been on a cooking show.  Let me explain.

   I was interviewed yesterday on the Cooking Without Looking TV show podcast.  I also posted on Page 7 yesterday about their zoomcast which I have begun to watch each month. (“Blind Cooks Teach More Than Recipes” Feb. 4).

   Executive Producer Renee Rentmeester assured me that you don’t have to be a raging great cook to appear on the podcast.  In fact the show only talks cooking for maybe 5 minutes of the half hour. 

   But to prepare for that five minutes I cooked, for the first time in years, my best dish.   It’s called “that chicken,” and is a very basic chicken and rice casserole with celery, broccoli and mushrooms.  I have another dish called “that other chicken” which is the same except you add sliced jalapeño. 

   Every other time I’ve made this I just slung it together with no regard to how much of what went in.  I piled in the ingredients to fill whatever casserole pan I had available.   

   Now I’m going on a cooking show. So I ask my wife if I can use her food scale to see exactly how much broccoli and celery are going in. 

   This dish couldn’t be much simpler but I was getting nervous anyway. I was thinking, is it too late to get out of this, make up some kind of excuse?  Maybe, “my dog refused to eat my homework?” That should get me off a cooking show, right? 

   Well I don’t actually have a dog.  Perhaps I should borrow one for the day?

   So for my first practice run Wednesday, my first move was to take a barcode sticker off the bottom of a new casserole dish.  This is from a set my wife won at bunco I think.

   I carefully measured and cooked two cups of rice and added it to two 10.5-ounce cans of Campbell’s cream of mushroom soup. To this I added about two ounces each of chopped broccoli and chopped celery, 6.5 ounces of sliced mushrooms and six ounces of sliced chicken. 

   Now because this is my cooking-show debut I tried to stick to the recipe. I didn’t do my usual, which is if the mix doesn’t look just right, add whatever, until it does. 

   But I didn’t do that and the product suffered.  I had too much rice and too much chicken.  The product is edible, but it tasted and looked more like third-day casserole than fresh-from-the-oven casserole.      

   So I immediately gathered more ingredients for yesterday, and a second charge up that culinary hill.

   On day two I reduced the rice to 1.5 cups and the chicken to two ounces.

   I took the remaining chicken planks and baked them separately in Stubbs barbecue sauce.  So “that chicken” still had a little chicken in it, but it was really more a casserole to be served alongside the barbecued chicken. 

    That turned out much better. I joke about my cooking. I’m not trying to be a master chef but I do want to be in that C or C-plus range. 

   I don’t want to be that guy who tries to send leftovers home with people after Thanksgiving dinner and hears them say “nah Kev, that’s alright. I’m good.”

   Well the podcast went just fine. And Renee tells me she never uses a food scale! Maybe I just have the wrong idea about all these foodies.

   My first clue my wife Jeannette and I were a match made in heaven came early on when we were dating.  On Mondays she would come over for dinner. The job I had at the time let out at 4. So I had about an hour to dash around my apartment kitchen and prepare an assortment of mediocre food for her.  Well she really liked what I prepared. 

   There’s something to be said for any food you don’t have to prepare yourself.  But this was beyond that.  She really liked it. That made me feel pretty good. 
   I feel pretty good now too.  I’m thinking of ways to tweak the recipe and create “that 21st-century chicken.” Any ideas?

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3 Comments

  1. How about some garlic and onion? You can hardly go wrong with the addition of this dynamic duo. P.S. I’ve got an easy Lemon Greek Chicken recipe if you want to branch out with “Still Another Chicken” dish.

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  2. I can honest say that I don’t recall ever using a food scale in my life. If I ever did, it was back in school in some homec class or something. I do sometimes use measuring cups and spoons but that’s usually when baking a cake or making cookies or something. When cooking casseroles and the like, I just throw it in and get a feel for what’s right. Chicken and rice, for example, I might take a cup of uncooked rice and cook that according to instructions. Then add it to a can of mushroom soup and some cut up chicken. I might also use cream of chicken soup instead and if it’s too dry, add a wnd can of soup. I may also put in some seasonings according to taste and then bake the whole thing for 20 to 30 minutes. Some cooks need very specific guidance and some just need some general directions to get them going the right way.

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