Sunday, August 2, 2009
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
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
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
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
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.
Posted by Cooking Ventures at 1:00 PM