Wednesday, March 3, 2010
Shake 'n Bake: Parmesan Crusted
It has been so long since I last had Shake 'n Bake that I can't even remember when the last time was. I don't know why -- I distinctly remember it being the only part of my mother's pork chops that I liked. (I didn't like pork then and I still don't. Wait a second...is bacon pork?) In any event, it's been quite a while.
But you don't need to use it on pork. Shake 'n Bake can also be used on chicken, and thanks to the nice people at Kraft, I have this box of the Parmesan Crusted version. I happen to like Parmesan crusting as a rule. And while I am going to use it on chicken, I am doing a little experiment and trying it on salmon too. There, doesn't it look all cheerful 'n' stuff baking in the oven? I am truly a modern Donna Reed, no doubt about it.
Since this Shake 'n Bake is not really meant to be used on fish, I am only going to rate it based on the flavor of the coating and the results on the chicken. (But I will still let you know how it held up on the salmon.) Below you see it both ways; the chicken is on the left and the salmon on the right. Call me cowardly, but I didn't think it would work on the asparagus.
To use, all you do is moisten the meat of your choice and pop it into a plastic bag (included in the box) along with the dry mix, and shake until covered. Or you can dredge, or you can just get it on there in whatever way makes you happy. I am not going to judge you; rock on with your bad self.
Once coated and cooked -- I simply followed the instructions on the box -- the Shake 'n Bake formed a nice light crust that browned up well and had little bits of parsley throughout. And there were some shiny spots where the Parmesan cheese had melted and pooled. Again, while I am not rating based on appearance, it gave equally attractive results on both the chicken and the salmon.
All right, we know it looks good...but how does it taste?
It's really cheesy -- the box says that it's made with Kraft Parmesan cheese -- and you can certainly taste it. It's a very basic breading, but the cheese adds some pizazz. It's salty, but let's be fair -- it is a boxed seasoning. I can see how this would be a great way to make chicken fingers for the kids, while still having something Mom and Dad want to eat. It made my chicken less boring -- and chicken usually does bore me, so that's a plus. And for the record, it was also tasty on the salmon (below). You're not going to get your socks knocked off, but it does add a little extra somethin' somethin', as they say in the Deep South. (Sorry, no picture of the salmon cut into -- that picture didn't come out -- so you'll have to use your imagination.)
What the coating did do an excellent job of was keeping the meat moist. I don't cook a lot of chicken, and as a result I tend to overcook it. But I got nice juicy breasts (shut up!) and I am giving the credit -- mostly -- to the coating.
I'll be honest: while there was certainly nothing wrong with this Shake 'n Bake flavor, it didn't wow me. It was pleasant enough, but also completely predictable and unexciting -- probably the best way to describe it would be to say that it's a very "safe" and middle-of-the-road item. But that's not necessarily a demerit. If you prefer milder flavors and don't care for spice, this could be right up your alley.
Sample from company
35 calories per 1/8 packet, or about 10 grams. Basically, what it takes to coat your meat.
Contains wheat and milk.