Thursday, May 5, 2011

Deep Covered Baker

My first two forays into the Pampered Chef realm have come about purely due to curiosity.  PC sells a Deep Covered Baker - a stoneware product that helps to cook things quickly, easily, and fairly efficiently.  I have heard stories, and if you go to a PC party, or meet someone who has one of these dishes, you'd swear that there was nothing you couldn't do with it.

Now, truth be told, I received one of these for my wedding.  In fact, it has traveled with me from place to place and across the country and has never been used.  Truth #2: Stoneware used to scare me.  I had a pizza stone once that I didn't know what to do with and ended up chucking it because of the various spots that had accumulated due to improper seasoning.  See why I've avoided this??

Fast forward, here I am (four years and 2000 miles away from that newlywed me) with a deep covered baker in my cabinet, a consultant's package of products in the mail, and a few recipes just ready to burn the house down.  I might as well start with one of the pieces I already have.  This time I'm armed: I've read the product use and care instructions, and passed the quiz on stoneware.  I'm on it!

After looking through my refrigerator and going through the different recipes, I decided that my first dish would be the Chicken Mexican Lasagna.  This recipe has limited ingredients (a plus), pre-cooked chicken (a bigger plus), and a very short cooking time (dingdingding - we have a winner!).  So, I have bolstered my courage, pre-seasoned my baker, and layered my ingredients in a fairly rushed artful manner.  I even used a fresh onion out of my garden - bonus!  20 minutes later, I was serving up some hot, tastey goodness.

Now, if I was a great and organized chef, with my camera ready at hand, my dish might have looked something like this.  (Hmmm... add to that "if I had followed the layering directions the way I was supposed to."  I don't make excuses for the way I cook, but I was elbow deep in enchilada sauce and the print on the recipe I had was extremely small in the dim light of my kitchen.)  My lasagna was smooth on top, since I uber-layered the chicken within the lasagna, and I'm not a great cutter who could make a perfect piece like that.  Regardless, it was delicious.  The recipe claims eight servings, and maybe if I had more sides that would have been the case.  Instead, I just served it with lettuce to add a nice crunch.  My husband and I ate VERY well, and I still had enough for two big lunch leftovers.  I'm a huge fan of having something filling left for lunch, so a definite mission accomplished on this one!

I'm on a roll now, I've worked on one recipe and still have some energy to keep this going.  (Who am I kidding?  This project will probably be old within the month, but if I don't set my sights high, I can't predict where I'm going.  At least I'm going to try.)  After success #1, I decided the next day was the perfect time to try my second recipe.

At the last PC party I went to - the one that pulled me over the edge to becoming an independent consultant - the woman sitting next to me was a former consultant.  She pointed out some great gadgets in the catalogue, contributed to the discussion during the cooking demonstration, and started raving about how the deep covered baker makes chicken a breeze.  I hate making chicken.  Well, I hate touching any kind of raw meat, but minced meat, or boneless meat, that is easily handled with minimal touching is okay.  Since this makes that easier, I decided to give it a try.

We bought a small fryer (young chicken, whole chicken, or whatever your terminology) to process.  I still made my husband, Thomas, take out the neck and gizzards, clean and oil the bird.  I created the seasoning mixture and we popped that puppy in the microwave.  30 minutes later we had one done bird.

Now, I did have one problem with the chicken: it looked like it had been boiled.  Sure, there were seasonings on it, and it looked super juicy, it just didn't look a thing like the chicken in the picture.  Maybe I missed something, but this bird looked pale, and in a house where things are constantly coming off of the grill, that just doesn't fly.  (haha, that bird really doesn't fly.  nerd)

So, going against my warranty, I popped the whole thing into the oven under the broiler, busting rule #1 of the product's use and care instructions.  It was only for two minutes, just enough to give this girl a tan, and the chicken really was perfect.  I doubted everyone, and in hindsight I can apologize for being so naive.  I served the chicken up with a bagged salad - Pear Gorgonzola - and Thomas made some garlic pita bread.  Awesome meal made within 40 minutes (including prep time).

So far I'm two recipes in and I'm pretty impressed with myself (and OF COURSE the baker).  I'm truly ready to start this challenge.

Game On!

1 comment:

  1. Aww Jess i really enjoyed your blog. It was very entertaining. Keep it up and call your mom and thank her for passing on the love (ok talent) of cooking. Lol