Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Cookin’ the Book: Pioneer Woman’s Chicken Fried Steak, Burgundy Mushrooms, Creamy Mashed Potatoes, and Pineapple Upside Down Cake in a Cast Iron Skillet (Phew!)

Man, oh man. This weekend I made serious progress towards my goal of completing all the recipes in The Pioneer Woman Cooks. I’m attempting to cook every one of her recipes (in the book, not her site!), and, while her book may not be as recipe-packed as Joy of Cooking, it’s proved to be a big task fitting in these yummy, rich recipes into a diet that can’t reasonably be that decadent on a daily, or sometimes weekly basis.
Flipping through the book to see what is left to make my eyes fell on her chicken-fried steak recipe. Immediately I thought of our friend Tom, who I know loves that treat. We had not had his family over in way too long, so it was obviously fate. It took a few weeks for our schedules to align, and Sunday was the day for a big ole’ feast, complete with the obvious side of mashed potatoes, her burgundy mushrooms, and, oh heck, why not? I decided, since I was clearly on a health kick here, why not go for broke and make the pineapple upside down cake, too? It seemed sensible at the time. ;)
Burgundy mushrooms is very easy to make, but takes a very, very long time. Think: waking up early to put a 20 lb turkey in the oven for Thanksgiving long time. 9 hours long time. Beyond that, though, it’s also very easy: dump in all the ingredients, bring to a boil, and simmer for, oh… forever. By 10 a.m. the fragrance was killing me it smelled so delicious.
I also prepared the mashed potatoes well in advance, as the recipe states it can be put into a casserole dish and refrigerated until about 30 minutes before you want to eat, and simply reheated at 350. Chicken-fried steak and the cake both needed to be made right before meal time. I baked the cake in the oven at the same time I was reheating the potatoes, and had to adjust the baking time to add probably 10 minutes since the oven was being shared. Otherwise, it worked well, and the cake came out of the pan perfectly. The middle pineapple ring stuck when I turned out the cake, but it fit right back in place like a piece in a puzzle. No worries!
I was happy when everything came together at about the times I’d hoped, and everyone tucked into dinner with gusto.
chicken-fried steak with gravy, creamy mashed potatoes, burgundy mushrooms, and a token smidge of broccoli salad
We had to digest for a good while between dinner and dessert, but we’re troopers. I served the warm cake with vanilla ice cream (sure, why not while I’m at it??), and then we all went into a coma by the fire.
Actually, the kids all ran around like crazy monkeys while we adults tried very hard to do nothing at all. I heard studies disproved the old wives tale that kids feel a sugar rush after a treat. I say to those people, “Come lookee here. These kids are hyper!!” It was okay, though. We pulled out some glo-stick necklaces, let ‘em have at the flashlights, and they were very happy monkeys. It was a really warm evening, and perfect for hanging outside after dark, plus, since it’s fall, the after-dark whooping was over by 8 p.m. I am sure the neighbors were happy about that. :)
Complete recipe and photos illustrating preparation of burgundy mushrooms can be found HERE. Ditto for the mashed potatoes, HERE. The chicken-fried steak (UPDATE: Can now be found HERE!) and pineapple-upside down cake recipes are only in her cookbook for the time being—sorry! However, the two linked recipes would be faboo with a holiday dinner. I am definitely going to make the ‘shrooms along with our Christmas dinner, as I think it’ll be perfect with rib roast, which I make every year. Mmmm, can’t wait…


Dana at StrawberryTart! said...

I love Ree's cookbook. My dad was in town and got a hold of mine, but he didn't take it. I bought two more - one for him and one for my sister. We had the pinapple upside down cake in the cast iron...yummmmo.

Kristianna said...

That was smart to buy them their own copies. I have definitely worked a few of her recipes into our regular menu... chili, enchiladas... YUM.


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