I recently discussed with a friend the expansion of Food Network’s influence on television. If you haven’t heard, they’ve created a new channel called the Cooking Channel. You may be a bit confused–don’t they cook on Food Network?–but there are some differences. My friend Carrie (hi Carrie) aptly compared the new network to MTV; once MTV figuratively eliminated the M from MTV (this before they literally did it), they created a new channel, MTV2, for videos. I’m waiting to see if the Cooking Channel, which supposedly serves the true foodie set, devolves into more clownish Guy Fieri-style fast-food TV and spawns yet another channel. (Apparently MTV2 has ditched videos as well.)
Anyway. I haven’t yet caught any of the Cooking Channel, although the program lineup looks serviceable. But our conversation reminded me of the handful of recipes from Food Network that are decent, if unsophisticated. I took the time one day to prepare one of Paula Deen’s butterfests; the recipe (check it out here) calls for shrimp, but I’ve never been a big fan of the sinewy chewiness of shrimp, so I substituted chicken.
Yes, the recipe calls for a shitload of butter. More butter than any person (or group of people) should really consume. But if the woman knows anything, it’s that butter is damn good. And fat is good. Sometimes you need to strip away the carpaccios (carpaccia?) and the tartares and the foams and just dig in to some comfort food. And the simple combination of the buttery base with the zing of lemon and hot sauce (and also lots of black pepper) infuses a simple chicken breast with great moisture and flavor. (I stabbed the chicken a lot before I slathered the sauce over.) It helps to add a bit more hot sauce than she calls for; in fact, I recall pouring somewhere near half a bottle into the pan. Otherwise, the butter predominates, rather than pulls the other flavors together. Remember, nuance is not Paula Deen’s strong suit.
Adding some sliced bell pepper strips (I used red and yellow) to the dish before baking gives you a flavorful texture alternative with the meatz. Oh, and I highly recommend using the sauce left over in the pan from baking as a topping to a heaping pile of mashed potatoes. Holy hell, can I go to town on some mashed potatoes. It’s also great with some crusty bread.
So you may need to spend 6 hours in the gym to work off this one meal. (No truth to the rumor, though, that you should wash this all down with a raw egg and a mug of warm half-and-half.) But it sure is worth it, especially as the days grow shorter and colder and the comfort food comes calling. Three cheers for dairy products!