In which El Chris makes a turd of himself taking too many pictures of food.
This weekend, I went camping. More on that later. Naturally, I had my camera and I made certain that all the cooking staff KNEW that I would be following them. All four of the meals were made in dutch ovens, and they were so good that my face melted straight off.
The Food God and Goddess were there (you’ll know her by her apron) and spearheaded some sweet meals, including mountain man breakfast and a killer set of dutch oven sloppy joes. However, those couldn’t hold a candle to the chicken parmesan they served for dinner. It was like Heaven landed on my tongue and then exploded. It was like a thousand Golden Retriever puppies were giggling inside my mouth. And it followed a VERY simple recipe that can be scaled to serve over 100 people, which is what we did.
To make it, you’ll need the following for each dutch oven, which serves 4 teenage boys or 6 normal people:
4 Chicken Breasts
1 package instant mashed potatoes.
Two 14.5 ounce cans of Italian-style stewed tomatoes (or just a crap ton of tomato sauce)
1 clove garlic (optional-ish)
1/2 Teaspoon oregano
2 tablespoons of corn starch
1/4 cup of grated Parmesan
1 big-ass can of corn
3 lb rigatoni pasta
Bag of charcoal
Tin foil or Foil liner (super optional)
1. Line up your dutch ovens. If you have one, I guess that’s fine. The liners placed in each oven made cleanup a snap, so get a bunch right now because I said so. Make sure you have 1 additional pot liner, as we will need the extra later.
2. Heat the dutch oven to 350. For a 12″ oven, that means you’ll need 24 charcoal briquettes total. Since we’ll be roasting the chicken, put 12 briquettes underneath, and 12 on the lid. Make sure you arrange the coals on the edge of the lid and not in the middle. This will ensure that the lid heats evenly. Just trust me. Do it this way or you’ll screw it up and probably die or something.
3. Roast the chicken for 20 minutes. By roast I mean put the lid (with coals) on the pot and go drink some Shasta. It better be Shasta.
4. While the chicken is cooking, you’re going to prep the pasta sauce. BECAUSE I SAID SO! GOD! In a separate pot, stir all the ingredients together. That means you take the oregano, 2 cans of tomato junk, corn starch, and parmesan and stir them all together. I don’t care how you do it, as long as you stir the bejeepers out of it. Cook over medium heat or until the sauce is hot to the touch but not bubbling. It will thicken, like your hipster buddy’s love for crappy music.
5. Mix the sauce and cook it like so:
6. Now we start the real prep. The cooked chicken is now in the dutch ovens. That’s a hard win, folks.
7. While Brandon is opening corn, you can spoon the delicious sauce over the chicken. You can do it like we did below, as long as you’re generous. You will have sauce left over, which is perfect for bread dipping.
In which El Chris watches Brandon make so much corn that El Chris will poop corn for a week.
8. With the corn, as long as it’s been heated, you can serve it up. I like to heat it in the can (the can WILL take the heat from the stove, as long as you ditch the label so it can’t burn.) and then serve it from the can. It saves on dishes, but the electric heaty thingy was way handy.
9. While the corn and chicken are doing their thing, make the package of mashed potatoes. Mince and add the leftover garlic. Mix in some corn. Cover with surplus sauce while serving. Make new friends.
10. At this point, all of the chicken should be in ovens, ready to rock. Since they’re all in 12″ dutch ovens, cooking them should be a simple matter of counting. Twelve coals on the bottom, twelve on the top. Stack. The top coals on the first dutch oven become the bottom coals of the next. Brilliant, right? Now stacky stacky (no more the 3 high, you’re not superman.) and cook for another 30-40 minutes. While this is cooking, slice the baguettes into manageable pieces. The bread should be used to sop up extra sauce.
11. About ten minutes before the chicken is done cooking, you can start making the pasta. To cook pasta, you boil it in water for 8-12 minutes. Put some in your mouth. Does it feel right? Then it’s done.
You can also taste (right, like put the food in your mouth and evaluate the results) the sauce and see if you like it. You can add a clove of minced garlic if you don’t like it and your wife says it’s ok, otherwise leave it be.
At this point, you will have a table full of ordeal candidates who demand food NOW. They will soon be appeased.
This is what all of the fellas signed up for. They have been waiting for this for EVER. It’s totally worth it. Make sure you douse their potatoes in sauce and give them bread to sop up the extra. Each oven will supply 8-10 half-breasts-of-chicken.
Got any other suggestions? I’d love to hear them! Leave them in the comments, a response is guaranteed.