The best thing about cooking to me is being experimental and having fun with it. Cooking absolutely does not have to be a chore or a laborious activity. Getting goofy with it not only makes it something you look forward to doing, but also, obviously, can open up new avenues to Flavortown (okay, I’m making that reference without ever having seen Guy Fieri’s stuff, but he seems like my kinda guy).
Tonight for dinner, I did one of my vintage goofy meals — and I say vintage because it’s one of the first dishes I can recall getting “playful with,” as it were, in my mom’s kitchen as a teenager — cereal chicken. Yes, that’s right, cereal chicken. I haven’t researched this, but I’m sure I’m not the first person to think of doing this, but as it happens, there are times when I don’t have breadcrumbs. Breadcrumbs are the most obvious answer to the question, “What do I bread the chicken breast with?” For whatever reason, my mom rarely had breadcrumbs. So, one day, I breaded the chicken with Cap’n Crunch Peanut Butter cereal. It was delicious! I was blown away by the combination of salty with sweet. It made a normal, functional chicken breast as is, far more fun to prepare and eat.
Recently, I’ve breaded chicken and pork chops with crushed pretzels and Corn Chex cereal. Also suitable substitutes, if you ask me. My mom uses oatmeal instead of breadcrumbs, which I’m curious about trying now. From my experience, the best version is the Cap’n Crunch Peanut Butter one. I’ve done it with regular Cap’n Crunch, and like I just said, Corn Chex, and it doesn’t quite have that same sweet flavor bursting through.
However, tonight, I did not have Cap’n Crunch Peanut Butter cereal, but I did have Froot Loops. If you’ve read my blog, you know I have a love-hate relationship now with Froot Loops, but, I made up with them tonight to do this. More than the taste, I wanted the aesthetic of a rainbow-looking breaded chicken breast.
It’s really easy to do, and surely, if I can do it, anyone can.
The first thing you’re going to want is a chicken breast. I have a bag of frozen chicken breasts from my local grocery store. I didn’t realize this particular version needs to defrost in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours, so I had to microwave it to defrost. Once it’s defrosted, you want to pat the chicken breast dry. At this point, I like to season it. I only have sea salt, garlic powder and onion powder seasonings at the moment (I’m still building up my assortment of seasonings; I’m bummed I have no black pepper yet!), and that’s what I covered both sides of the chicken breast with. One of the mistakes I used to make early on in cooking was to lightly season only one side of the meat in question.
At this point, it’s probably a good idea to get your stove burner going. In my little skillet, I poured Olive oil and set the burner to medium.
On a separate plate, sprinkle some flour. Since I’m only making one medium-sized chicken breast, I don’t need that much flour, but obviously, if you’re making more, you might want more flour on the plate to coat the chicken with. Dredge the chicken breast through the flour making sure to cover both sides as best you can.
I don’t have a shallow dish yet, so I cracked an egg and whisked it in a bowl and added some sea salt. Again, if you’re breading more than one chicken breast, you might want to use more than one egg. Alternatively, I believe instead of egg, you could use milk. I’ve done that before. Soak the chicken in the egg mix.
Now, believe it or not, it’s taken me a few times of making cereal chicken to master how to prepare the cereal breading. Before, I used to pour the cereal out onto a plate or in a bowl and mash it with the bottom of a glass cup. That’s very inefficient. Now, I simply pour the cereal into a sandwich bag and smash it with my fist against the counter into its little crumbs like breadcrumbs. I then pour it out onto a plate. After soaking the chicken in the egg mixture, coat the chicken on both sides with the Froot Loops (or whatever cereal you’re using).
Then, drop it onto the skillet and let the heat do its thing. I also like to add a few scoops of the Froot Loops crumbs into the skillet with the chicken because fried cereal is yummy!
While it’s cooking, you can prepare your sides. For tonight, I finished off two dinner rolls I had (they were in the refrigerator, so I had to heat them up and overdid it, which is why they look a little goofy) coated in butter, and then made a side salad. I added diced ham, bacon bits, sliced tomato, and balsamic dressing. I finished both off while waiting on the chicken. You could time yours differently if you like to eat them all at the same time.
I don’t know what others do, but I’m paranoid when cooking chicken and red meat and flip it rather often. I’ll let one side go for a few minutes, flip, let that side go for a few minutes, flip and repeat this process for a good 10 to 15 minutes to make sure the chicken is thoroughly cooked. I really should get a cooking thermometer and do it proper. The tricky aspect of cooking breaded chicken is that the breading will obviously cook faster than the chicken meat itself. That’s why some of my Froot Loop breading looks burnt. But, I’d rather eat some burnt Froot Loops than undercooked chicken.
Don’t forget to turn off the burner once the chicken is done! And now you’re ready to eat. I still hold to my earlier position that the peanut butter cereal works the best because the Froot Loop taste didn’t come through much here at all. However, I did get the colorfulness! Chicken cooked on stovetop and generously seasoned like this, breaded or not, always comes out juicy in my experience. The trick is to hit that spot between undercooking it and overcooking it to where it’s dry. This chicken was juicy and had some fun fried Froot Loop bits to go with it. One day I will master a juicy baked chicken, but today wasn’t that day.
I hope you enjoy, if you try it!