It’s Go’n to Fry, Fry, Fry…Fry…Fry…Fry!

This is the Fourth Installment of The Pioneer Woman Cookbook Challenge

I know frying foods is a staple of southern cooking but can we also say that fried food is a staple in all American cooking. It really does rank right up there with baseball, apple pie, Johnny Cash and Elvis. I mean there is nothing like fried chicken or in my neck of the woods a good Lake Erie fish fry which consist of perch or walleye with coleslaw, baked beans, a slice of bread, and sauce of choice. Which is what we had for dinner last night while TW and I were out last night with my parents. It’s a Friday night thing around here that is usually put on by the VFW or AMVETS in our area. All the same though…fried food no matter what region you are from it is the ultimate comfort food of our country.

Fried Shrimp Recipe No. 12

There is nothing more appealing to my childhood self than a basket of fried shrimp. When all the adults were eating their perch dinners, all of us kids would have fried shrimp to avoid the bones from the fish. Even today a shrimp basket is still appealing.

Every meal that I have cooked so far from this challenge is with TW in mind. No matter how long my day has been at work or whatever else is going on, I try to choose menu items with him in mind. After all I started this challenge with him in mind. If there is one thing that TW likes it is fried shrimp. Let me digress for a moment. There is more than one thing that TW likes….fried food. If you cook the man almost fried anything, he will love ya forever! I am told that fried food is part of that infamous hillbilly diet that I am always hearing about.

When I was meal planning that first round of this challenge I was a bit on the naive side of how Ree had her books set up. I basically saw a recipe and wrote it down as a future meal with no more thought to it. The recipe I had planned was the Shrimp Po’boy Sandwich.

Shrimp Po’boys Recipe No. 13

I love Po’boy Sandwiches! And I didn’t know if TW has ever had one. Well, I was soon to find out no matter what.

The night I made these Shrimp Po’boys I was the first one home and I had the shrimp pulled out from the freezer earlier that morning so it would be already thawed when I returned home. When I cracked open the Come and Get It book (pgs: 116-119) , I hadn’t realized that this was a two part recipe.

Like I had said before I really didn’t pay attention to way the shrimp needed to be cooked. I was used to the way that my mom had always made her Po’boy with sautéed shrimp. Another thing I also didn’t realize that both recipes were listed under the 40 Minute Meals. Needless to say we ended up eating dinner extremely late that night. What I mean by late, try like nine o’clock late. On the upper hand, this is a meal that we would put back on our menu again now that I am more aware of the time of prep, etc.

Country Fried Chicken aka: Cube Steak Recipe No. 14

Country fried steak (The Pioneer Woman Cooks, pgs. 142- 145) is one of those inexpensive staples of American cooking. I don’t think there isn’t an inch of this country that hasn’t had this meal on their dinner table. I even grew up with country fried steak or on other occasions as my dad would call it speed beef made from venison. Unlike Ree’s household, my family does fish and hunt for the meat. I personally have unsuccessfully been fishing but I haven’t pulled a trigger on a deer. The one unwritten/unsaid rule about hunting and fishing in this family is that you have better be out there for the meat and not for the thrill of the kill or for a trophy. Conservation is the key to a good hunting/fishing season.

Oh wow, lets get back to that fried steak. Overall this was a pretty straight forward recipe. The only thing Ree didn’t do was to pound out the cube steak. Pounding the cube steak with a meat hammer tenderizes the cut of meat. Cube steak can be a tough cut of meat to eat if not tenderized. The one thing I didn’t like but TW did, was the gravy. I will give it props in the fact that it was a completely different way of making gravy. For me it was the taste and texture that ultimately turned me off from it. When I make a gravy, I am used to making a roux (roo) or a cornstarch mixture. All the same it was nice to learn a new technique with making gravy.

Marlboro Man’s Favorite Sandwich Recipe No. 15

A Cube Steak Sandwich (The Pioneer Woman Cooks, pgs. 88- 90) may not be the most appealing sandwich to look at but cooked right it is one of the most flavorful to eat. Again, this is a cut of meat that needs to be tenderized, even though Ree says it doesn’t because the butcher does it. No, it does. Not every butcher is going to tenderize these steaks in advance for ya. I have to say it is the one thing that I didn’t do with these cube steaks just to see if that statement was true and I am not putting Ree down or knocking her for it but I didn’t tenderize them and they turned out to be the toughest sandwich I have ever eaten. Otherwise great flavor, and a good sandwich.

Cap’n Crunch Chicken Strips Recipe No. 16

When I served these Cap’n Crunch Chicken Strips (Come and Get It, pgs. 102-103) to TW, you would have thought that I just hung the moon. No joke. No lie! Like Ree, TW’s favorite cereal as a kid was Cap’n Crunch. When it came to making out this menu plan TW just happened to be standing next to me and that is when he spotted this recipe. With a striking point of his index finger to the picture in the book his excitement blossomed to the idea of his favorite breakfast cereal with his favorite meal of chicken strips aka: fingers, he said, “Cook that!” So on the menu it went.

When it came to this recipe I changed one thing, and that was the cooking oil to fry the chicken in. Ree does recommend in each recipe of what oil to use. However, after cleaning up mess after mess from canola oil, vegetable oil, and olive oil, I finally turned to peanut oil to fry my foods in. Yes, it can be a bit expensive but worth it. I had less of a mess to clean up afterwards and my chicken did not burn due to the fact that peanut oil can handle a higher cooking temperature because of its fat content. A great example of what happened when I used vegetable oil (as recommended) to cook the shrimp resulted with the shrimp being burned. Well, at least the breading was burned.

After I had burned the shrimp I didn’t cry or have a melt down, but instead I looked for the shorting that I had for baking and used that instead. After cleaning up the burned pieces and allowing the vegetable oil to cool down enough to put in a glass jar. I then restarted over with the shortening and the rest of the shrimp turned out beautiful.

As for the chicken strips, they turned out beautiful too when they were cooked in the peanut oil. Even though I am not crazy about Cap’n Crunch—Say what?!?!?!? It’s too sweet for me. The Chicken strips turned out as though we went to Raising Canes restaurant. Yep, if you know Canes chicken, then you know what I am talking about. If ya don’t, let me fill ya in by telling you that these chicken strips were the most moist and tender chicken strips I have ever had next to Canes. That’s saying a lot!

Since I wasn’t a fan of Cap’n Crunch breading, TW offered that next time I make these chicken strips to use corn flakes. Now that I have had before with fried chicken. As for TW, these Cap’n Crunch chicken strips were down right perfect, and he practically ate all of them. Except for the ones that I snuck. Turns out that these chicken strips are good if not better to me cold.

All right y’all that ends it for this round of recipes. I hope that I am not sounding too much like a critic or someone who is reviewing Ree’s books. That’s not my point of doing this challenge. I have to admit that my biggest challenge is sitting down to write about what I am cooking. I am hoping to get caught up in the next couple of weeks. I am ecstatic about my up coming staycation for Thanksgiving where we are puppy sitting and I am putting on the whole dinner using Ree’s recipes of course. I am not sure if I will be using all of them for our dinner (because we are not going to eat four stuffings) but we’ll see what happens.

As always go about life Victoriously,

Alex Victoria

PS: When breaking down the Cap’n Crunch cereal, it is best to use a ziplock bag and a meat tenderizer hammer/mallet. Saves time and makes a lot less of a mess.

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