Bob and I have a thing for spicy foods. To turn up the heat, he adds Tabasco to ketchup; I figure pizza, hamburgers, most everything is better when covered with jalapenos.
So this Red Hot Buffalo Chicken Breast recipe just cried to be tried. Besides promising a kick, this clever idea from The 50 Best Cooking for Two Recipes (Adams Media, a division of F+W Media, December 2011) is right-sized for empty-nest Boomers like us.
But don't let the name throw you off. The chicken in this healthier spin on wings is anything but spicy. It's coated with a light batter and fried till golden; then baked with a blue-cheese-and-celery topping. The fire comes from a simple sauce you whip up using Frank's RedHot Cayenne Pepper Sauce (which ranks right up there with Tabasco in Bob's book) and butter. It's served on the side so you can add as much or as little as you like. How's that for heat control?
Since Bob and I are big on eating healthy, I normally keep the frying pan stashed in the back of the pantry. I have an electric one that my dear mother-in-law Jo gave me DECADES ago. Still a champ after all these years, it's been one of the best gifts ever! Pulling it out for this yummy recipe was a great change of pace and made preparation a breeze. Even better, although both frying and baking are involved, you can have dinner on the table in under an hour.
For the most part, I followed the recipe to the letter. However, I baked the dish about 20 minutes before adding the topping so the chicken was nice and done before I started melting the cheese, which took another five minutes. While the chicken cooked, I stirred the two sauce ingredients together in a small pot and let them simmer. Talk about easy!
What's more, it has a taste you'll adore. We were in heaven eating the crispy, fried chicken topped with melted blue cheese and celery. An ideal complement to the other flavors, the peppery sauce packs just the right amount of ZING. Next time, however (and trust me, there will be one), I plan to pull back to two or three tablespoons on the butter. I may even cut the sauce recipe in half because it makes far more than even condiment addicts like us could polish off.
Serve this enticing entrée with your favorite spinach salad to a add a buffalo wing-inspired punch to your weeknight menus that's perfect for two.
2 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breasts, slightly pounded (about 1 large chicken breast from Costco)
Salt and pepper, to taste
All-purpose flour, as needed
Milk, as needed
4 tablespoons butter
1⁄2 cup Frank's RedHot Cayenne Pepper Sauce
3⁄4 cup crumbled blue cheese
2 celery stalks, finely diced
1. Heat 1 inch of peanut oil in a heavy skillet to 375°F. Preheat oven to 350°F.
Heat 1 inch of peanut oil in a heavy skillet to 375°F. Preheat oven to 350°F.
Season the chicken with salt and pepper, and dredge in the flour. Shake off any excess. Dip in the milk, then back in the flour.
Fry the chicken in the peanut oil for about 3 minutes per side or until the chicken is at least 150°F. Blot on paper towels and transfer to a baking sheet.
In a saucepan, melt the butter with the hot sauce, and keep warm.
Divide the blue cheese between the chicken breasts, mounding it on top. Bake until the cheese is melted and the chicken reaches 165°F. Transfer to a plate and sprinkle with the celery.
The Buffalo Legend
Legend has it that in a small bar in Buffalo, New York, the cook slapped together the ingredients for buffalo wings because there was nothing else to eat. Little did he know how the trend would take off.
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