Sunday, August 2, 2009

Ranch Chicken and Potatoes

My Venture into the Outback

I love Outback Steakhouse. They have great food but you walk in a size 6 and waddle out a size 16. The cheese fries with bacon and ranch dipping sauce are out of this world but they are a coronary just waiting to happen. I'm not much of a steak eater so I normally order a chicken or fish dish. They used to serve (and probably still do) a dish called Alice Springs Chicken. It is a chicken breast that has been marinated in honey mustard sauce, topped with mushrooms, bacon, and cheese then baked to perfection. Very tasty but a bit fattening. Add to that the cheese fries, a salad with fat-laden croutons, some of the Bushman Bread bathed in butter, and a delectable dessert and you will have consumed the same amount of calories as the average Ethiopian does in a year.

I came up with this recipe as a way to get some of the same flavor profiles without all of the guilt afterwards. In one dish, you get some chicken, potatoes, ranch dip, mushrooms, cheese, and bacon – with a lot less calories and fat but all of the same great taste. This dish is perfect for small dinner parties. I like to serve it in individual au gratin dishes but it also works great "family-style" in a larger glass dish. The recipe can be easily doubled or tripled if you need to serve more people. You HAVE to try it! G'day mate – and happy eatin'!

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Ranch Chicken and Potatoes

(Printable Version)

Ranch Dip
8 oz light sour cream (or regular sour cream)
1-1/2 TBSP Ranch Dip Mix (from a 1-oz packet)

2 chicken breasts
1 tsp of Ranch Dip Mix
3 TBSP of the prepared Ranch Dip as prepare above

Mushroom Topping
1-1/2 TBSP butter
8 oz white mushrooms, sliced
1 large shallot, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1 TBSP water
2 tsp soy sauce
Pepper to taste

Ranch Potatoes
2 cups cubed frozen hash browns (such as Ore-Ida Southern-Style Hash Brown Potatoes), thawed
1/2 TBSP oil
The remaining Ranch Dip Mix

Additional Toppings
4 oz 2% sharp cheddar (or regular sharp cheddar), shredded
2 to 3 TBSP of real bacon bits (sold in the salad dressing aisle)
1 scallion (the light and dark green parts), chopped

Prepare the ranch dip by mixing the sour cream with 1 1/2 tablespoons of the ranch dip mix.

Add one teaspoon of the powdered ranch dip mix to the chicken breasts and massage into the meat. Place the chicken in a sealable bag and add 3 tablespoons of the prepared ranch dip to the breasts. Seal and use your hands to massage the dip all over the chicken then refrigerate for 3 hours. Cover the remaining prepared dip and refrigerate it until it is needed later. Reserve the remaining powdered mix for use on the potatoes.

After the chicken has marinated for three hours, preheat the oven to 400F. Start the mushroom topping by heating a large skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add the butter. As soon as it melts, add the mushrooms and flatten them into an even layer. Sprinkle the shallot over the mushrooms and sauté for three minutes without stirring. After three minutes, reduce the heat to medium, stir, and heat an additional three minutes. After three minutes, stir again, and heat an additional three minutes. Add the garlic, thyme, and some pepper then cook for one minute longer. Add the water and soy sauce, stir, and allow the liquids to evaporate (about 30 to 45 seconds longer). Spoon the mushrooms onto a clean plate.
While the mushrooms are cooking, add the frozen cubed potatoes to a microwave-safe bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and heat for two to three minutes, stirring them once during heating. Add 1/2 tablespoon of oil to the heated potatoes and toss. Sprinkle the leftover powdered dip mix over the potatoes and some black pepper to taste. Stir to combine. Taste for salt and adjust as needed.

After the mushrooms have finished cooking, wipe out the skillet, add one tablespoon of oil, and increase the heat to medium-high. When the oil is hot, add the marinated chicken. Add some pepper to the top of the each breast. Sauté on the first side for two minutes, flip, then sauté the other side for one minute longer. Place the chicken into two individual au gratin dishes or two small pyrex dishes (or add both pieces to one 8x8" glass dish). The chicken will not be fully cooked after three minutes but will finish cooking in the oven.

Add one cup of the potatoes around the sides of each chicken breast. Spread 2 tablespoons of the prepared ranch dip on top of each breast. Pile some of the mushrooms on each of the dip-covered breasts. You may have some of the mushrooms leftover. If so, use them for another purpose.

Add two ounces of cheese in a heaping pile to each of the chicken breasts. If any of the cheese gets on the potatoes, don’t worry. Bake for 17 minutes. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of the bacon bits to top of the chicken and potatoes in each dish. Bake another 3 minutes. Remove from the oven and garnish each chicken breast with a dollop of the prepared ranch dip and some of the chopped scallion.


  1. This dish looks divine...can't wait to try it!!! I found you over at Tasty Kitchen!

  2. I love Tasty Kitchen! I can't wait to post more recipes there. Thanks for visiting!

  3. Made your tasty kitchen meatloaf tonight, so I found you there! This recipe looks AMAZING and I'm looking forward to giving it a go!
    I've only been to outback once when I was visiting Minnesota about 7 years ago and I think I actually ordered that chicken!! :)

  4. Just found you on Tasty Kitchen...I can't wait to try this!

  5. Found you on Tasty Kitchen - made this dish last night and it was divine! We absolutely loved it - looking forward to trying more of your dishes!

  6. I have been holding this recipe in my "Try" pile for a while now, and finally I made it yesterday. One word says it all. Delicious!!! I made it for my husband, and brought some to my two grown sons. They all loved it. Made the original recipe for my hubby and I, but had to make a few substitutions for my "boys". Older son doesn't eat carbs, so swapped out the potatoes for broccoli florettes tossed with some dry ranch dip, and youngest son doesn't like mushrooms, so omitted them from his dinner, swapping out mushrooms on top of chicken and using some of the broccoli florettes, diced. I will surely make this again and again. Thank your for a GREAT recipe.

  7. This looks heavenly,I have to make and eat this. I could care less (shame on me) if it is the full blown calorie version or the light, scrumptious is all it needs to be and it certainly looks like it. I have had the Alice Springs chicken long ago and loved it. Thanks, I am drooling, I love food what can I say.

  8. Hey I love your blog, I found you on tasty kitchen, apparently the same way everyone else has! I was wondering if you had a suggestion for me--I hate mushrooms, but love the ranch chicken idea, should I just omit them or add something else? Thanks!

  9. Courtney -- My mother hates mushrooms too so I normally eliminate the mushroom topping completely when I'm making it for her. One time, I caramelized some onions to put on top (instead of the mushrooms) and she loved that. Of course, she LOVES caramelized onions. If that's not your thing, I'd leave off the mushrooms and call it good.


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