Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Cheesy Savory Chicken Monkey Bread for 2 People

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Romantic Monkey Bread!!!

Well, not exactly romantic, but once you have a few years of marriage under your belt, you become surprised at what you look forward to.  For my lovely bride and myself, one of our favorite times of the week is Sunday morning in bed, reading the Sunday paper and catching up on the world through Good Morning America.

So, the pleasant news of the week on TV, a cat crawling on the open paper, my bride and a plate of these and that's romance!

Before I get to the recipe, I want to explain something... This is the first in a series of  post hopefully you will be reading over the next several days.  It started with a discussion on the rising costs of food (really, milk $4 a gallon, hamburger almost $5 a pound... insane!) and melded into a discussion of the glories of a store bought, pre-cooked, pre-seasoned Rotisserie Chicken. I am well known for my love of the bird.  Less than $5 for a three pound bird, such a joy to cook with I have my series of "52 Uses for a Rotisserie Chicken." (which at the time I am writing this, stands at 64).

Well, long story short, I am challenging myself to do a few things...

First, eat well.  Anyone can slice the chicken, add bread and mayo and make a sandwich.  I like to use the bird as a base for a good tasting meal... Like this good tasting breakfast.

Second, make these dishes for 2.  Old farts like Jackie and myself, as well as young couples see lots of recipes that feed 6-8 (or more).  In fact, if you read over those "52 Uses for a Rotisserie Chicken." you will see that most of those recipes indeed would feed not only Jackie and myself but our neighbors on both sides as well.  Much as I like leftovers, for a change, here's some recipes aimed at two people.  This also allows me to stretch my food budget, which leads me to...

Third, even though the base of the meal is the same (chicken), I should be able to get 4 or 5 dishes out of a single bird.  So let's see what type of variety I can get out of the rotisserie poultry.

Fourth, keep track of costs.  Now this is a little difficult as how much does a couple of TBS of flour cost?  So, instead of figuring pennies, let's just agree that pantry items (like flour, sugar, spices) will not be included.  Also, I am cheap and I almost always buy things on sale.  Case in point, this recipe calls for refrigerator biscuits.  If I were going to the store to buy them for a recipe I was going to make today, I would probably buy a generic brand to save money.  BUT if you watch the sales like I do and buy extras when I see a good price, you can get a can of Pillsbury "Grands" biscuits, not at the normal $2.50 a can but for $0.99 cents a can.

This culinary intellectual challenge is as much about stretching your dollar as it is about eating good.

And Fifth and finally, I want to do a few very very basic posts meant for non hobbyist cooks.  Look over this post.  You will see not only my recipe, a few in focus photos that hopefully make you want to give this a try, but also if you scroll past the recipe you will see some more detailed photos and some detailed explanations of what I did, why and how.

Let's get started and you will see what I mean...

OK... Here's what I did...

Cheesy Savory Chicken Monkey Bread for 2

  • Meat 1 Thigh from 1 Rotisserie Chicken about 3/4 Cup
  • 1 Large Egg
  • 2 TBS Half and Half
  • 1/2 of a can, (4 from Pillsbury Grands brand) Refrigerator Biscuits
  • 3 Ounces Cheddar Cheese, freshly grated
  • 3 Scallions, (Green Onions(, sliced, green and white parts
  • a Pinch of Paprika to Garnish
Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Spray a 5X8 inch glass baking dish with cooking spray.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs and Half and Half until well combined.
  4. Separate the biscuits. Cut each individual (4) biscuits into 6 pie shapes (now 24 pieces). Stir these into the egg/milk mixture.
  5. Fold in chicken, onions and cheese to evenly mix with the biscuit pieces.
  6. Transfer mixture to the baking dish... VERY IMPORTANT, arrange everything into a single layer.
  7. Sprinkle a pinch of Paprika on the top.
  8. Bake at 350 degrees. for 23 to 28 minutes or until golden brown. when the biscuit pieces are well coated, they pull apart easily..
  9. Serve HOT and ENJOY!!!

 First , decide what parts of the chicken you are going to use.  It is important when using a pre-cooked bird to think about this.  The breast meat is very dense, moist but will be the first to fry out if cooked more.  This recipe has you cooking an additional 20 plus minutes.  Meaning you need to use the Thigh meat or possibly the leg as well.  The thigh is the most moist part of the bird and can handle additional cooking time without the dish tasting dry.

So, grab the leg and thigh and pull them all in one piece from the bird.  They all come apart very easily, just takes a little effort to pop the joint.

Once you have the leg/thigh quarter you need to pop the leg from the leg/thigh quarter.  Just grab each and bend down.  You will feel the joint give way and the meat tears apart easily.

Next task is to de-bone the thigh.  This is easiest to be done my hand.  BTW, IMPRTANT... save all the bones.  You will be making Chicken Stock from the bird later this week.  Be sure to feel around the edges and slice away any bone chips or gristle.

In a 3 pound bird (average size at Sam's Club (where I get mine) or Costco), the meat from a  single thigh will get you 3/4 of a cup of diced meat.

Next, it is always a good idea to assemble your ingredients, measure and prep them before you start cooking.  It has a fancy name, Mise en Place, a French cooking term for "everything in it's place".  This does a couple of things.  It guarantees that you have all of the ingredients before you start.  there is nothing worse than going through all of this effort and getting most of the way through and discovering that you are missing an egg.  It also helps you make sure that everything is in the dish since you can watch the items shrink away as you assemble.

So do all the dicing and do all the grating and whisking needed to be done before you start to assemble.

There is one more seemingly simplistic task (like making sure you have all the ingredients before you start) and that is to be sure and read the recipe before you start.  Don't know a term, find out what it means (gods bless Wikipedia).  Pay attention to amounts, differences between tsp (teaspoon) and TBS (tablespoons) can make a huge difference in the finished product.

Or as in this recipe, you only are going to use 1/2 of a can of biscuits.  The recipe changes if you have more biscuits, not as cheesy, not as savory (oniony).  From bitter experience I have learned to read the entire recipe before I start.  Not just the ingredient list and look at the pretty picture.

OK, once you have everything in it's place, finally you are ready to watch the dish come together.  

In this recipe there are a couple of points that will make the dish better.  Like mixing the cut biscuits VERY VERY well before you add anything.  Coating the biscuits with the egg/milk mixture moistens everything making the cheese and onions stick better.  it also is what makes the monkey bread pull apart easily.  It also soaks into the biscuits, making them more custard like (like a French Toast or Bread Pudding).

Next is to mix completely.  This is one of those recipes when it is best to mix by hand.  The better the biscuit pieces are coated, the better the finished dish will work.  You want the biscuit pieces to pull apart easily.  When there is cheese and onion preventing the biscuits from clumping together the easier they separate.

And, VERY VERY VERY Important for thsi recipe is  to only have a single layer.  Do not use a tall dish... thin is in for this.  When you eat these you will notice the difference in texture.  the top is crispy crunchy and the middle is deliciously custardly.  You want both textures.  If you have them too tall the middle over powers the crispy.

As with all things baking, your oven may vary from the heat settings.  Be sure to cook these by eye.  I baked them for a full 2 minutes beyond the minimum cooking time.  I wanted that golden brown and delicious coloring.  I always check the look at the minimum time and cook accordingly.

OK, so total cost...

Pantry Items... Cooking spray for the bottom of the pan
and a pinch of Paprika

1/5th of the chicken... @... $1.00
1/2 a can of Biscuits... @...$0.50
3 Green onions............@...$0.30
3 Ounces Cheese........@...$2.00
1 Egg..........................@...$0.15

Total Cost...................@,,,$3.95 or less than $2 a serving.

Very easy, DELICIOUS and ... Romance was in the air (along with the Hobby Lobby newspaper ad).

Stay tuned, come on back tomorrow and see what else I make from the single bird!


This simple recipe has been added to my growing list of "52 Breakfast Ideas!"

It's the most important meal of the day.  From fancy to simple, there are always ways to dress up a breakfast dish.  These are the meals that make Bed and Breakfast Inns legendary (and usually easier than you think).

Here's your chance to make your guests Ooh and Aah!

This recipe has also been added to my growing list of "52 Uses For a Rotisserie Chicken"  (Now close to 100!)...I am so confused... $5.49 for a fully cooked, fully seasoned Oven Roasted, Rotisserie Chicken. Yet shop in the raw meat department and most raw chickens are at best $8 each and usually far closer to $10. Anyone have an answer??? Me either. So, I can either rail against the machine, or learn to embrace the beauty that is the $5 chicken! In this pin are recipes I have made, and recommend. MORE than 52 (I just can't stop)..
You get the idea.  From Scratch Pizza to Chinese Take Out recipes, Lots of Soups and Chili... Appetizers to Main Courses (Still can't find a dessert, but I am looking).  More than enough ideas for that store nought bird to shine with just a little extra work


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