I think that one of the most addictive websites that I’ve come across in recent history is Pinterest. I’ve actually been on Pinterest since the beginning, after my friend Tina over at Squirrel Accorns sent me an invite. At first, I wasn’t sold on it, since the pictures didn’t link to the underlying articles that featured them and it was hard to find things. Well, fast forward about 8 months and the site has blown up and is apparently now the “hot new thing” on the Internet. I actually concur. It seems like everybody is pinning pictures of their favorite foods, crafts, books, sayings (I like this less and less, if I wanted to read your quotes I’d just look at your damn Facebook “about” page), exercises and the like. You can get lost for hours, and I do mean HOURS, just scrolling through the pretty pictures from people you know and people you don’t know, in every category of topic imaginable.
How does this relate to the title of this post? Well, one afternoon I was using my alotted 30 minutes of Pinterest time (gotta limit it, or it’ll be a baaaaad time suck) and I saw a picture for a chicken dish that was smothered in mushrooms, bacon and cheesy deliciousness. “I love all those things,” I immediately thought. I immediately clicked on the pin, got to the link to the underlying page and read the recipe. You can find the original recipe here –> Original Alice Springs Chicken Dish. The recipe looked awesome, I mean, look at this picture and tell me that you don’t want to immediately dive face first into this deliciousness:
Interestingly, I’ve never actually had this meal at an Outback. I think I’ve only eaten at an Outback once or twice (they were never prominent where I grew up or lived, except while in college) but the meal still looked awesome. The biggest problem that I had with the recipe, though, was the inclusion of massive amounts of honey, which has WAY TOO MUCH sugar for what I prefer to use and cook with, especially since we’ve been eating Paleo. But alas, I remembered that Agave Nectar can be a good substitute for honey in small doses. I looked up the substitution rates (thanks Google, what would I ever do without you?) and figured that I could make the recipe work and that the calorie count would just put it into the category of a “slightly special dinner treat.” I set off on making the dish, following the recipe pretty much to the letter with the exception of the substitution of Agave Nectar for honey. The dish was a hit with my husband and our friend Jeremy who came over to enjoy a Sunday night dinner cooked by someone else. I personally thought that the dish tasted good, but was physically messy, and in my opinion still needed a bit of tweaking. I also found that the marinade was a little bit sweeter than I generally would have preferred, as I am much more of a sour lover than a sweet.
A few days ago as I was planning out our meals for the week, I thought about what we had in the fridge and I realized that apart from mushrooms I had all the makings to do the chicken recipe again. Only this time, I decided I wanted to set out to modify the recipe a bit to make it more Paleo friendly (read: I love cheese, but you do NOT need half a cup of cheese per chicken breast) and fiddle with the marinade recipe to make it a little bit more Dijon and a little less honey. The end result, in my opinion, was pretty awesome, and I give you a Paleo friendly Outback Alice Springs Chicken Recipe:
First up, the marinade….let’s meet our cast of characters, shall we?
Ingredients for Marinade:
1/2 Cup Dijon Mustard (I used 1/4 cup of one brand of dijon from Whole Foods, and then 1/4 cup French’s Dijon with champaign vinagrette…I didn’t have enough of the open dijon to do the recipe, but the resulting taste was great)
1/2 Cup Mayonnaise (I use Kraft Olive Oil Mayo)
1/8 Cup of Agave Nectar, or to your preferred taste
1/2 Teaspoon Lemon Juice
2 Boneless, skinless chicken breasts, rinsed and patted dry
1. Combine the marinade ingredients in a large bowl and whisk them together until you have a creamy marinade. Of course, it is essential to dip your finger in to taste test and ensure that the marinade meets your individual specifications:)
Side note: part of why it is always so important to taste test as you are cooking is to make sure that things don’t end up too sweet. The original substitution rate that I saw for Agave and Honey was 3/4 of Agave to each 1 part of honey. The original recipe called for 1 cup of honey. Last night, I was cutting the recipe in half, and I started out by putting in less than 1/8 cup of Agave nectar, and taste tested it. Since I was going for a honey mustard taste for the marinade and sauce, there was a delicate balance to be sought. After 1/8 cup of Agave nectar had been added, the marinade tasted pretty good. I added about 1 Tablespoon more and found that I had reached the level of sweetness that I wanted, and was able to cut half a cup of Agave from the recipe AND the associated calories.
2. Once the marinade is made, grab your chicken breasts and put them in a gallon size freezer ziploc bag. Pour about 3/4 of the marinade into the bag with the chicken, seal it up and smush it around so that the chicken is all coated in the marinade. Then, just toss the bag in the fridge and let the chicken marinate for at least 2 hours, or up to 1 day, whatever you prefer. Put the remaining marinade into a small bowl and set it aside in the fridge. Like so:
3. While your chicken is finishing marinating, but before you start cooking, you might want to get your remaining ingredients together and prepped. I personally like to prep them before I start the chicken cooking so that everything goes smoothly and I can get dinner done more quickly. Or maybe I’m just too anal retentive on some things and doing it this way makes me happy. Let’s not overanalyze it.
8 ounces White Mushrooms, sliced
4 strips bacon (I used Meijer low-sodium bacon, it’s awesome)
1/4 cup Colby Jack cheese, shredded
1/4 cup Super Sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded
1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons butter
3.5. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. In case you missed it, this is instruction 3.5. I forgot to tell you to preheat the oven, dear reader, and didn’t feel like renumbering the entire post. Silly Kelly!
4. After you slice up your mushrooms, heat a pan and add the olive oil. Get the pan nice and hot, then add the mushrooms and sautee them up until they’re cooked through and a beautiful brown color. I start the mushrooms on high heat and then reduce the flame to medium so that the mushrooms cook thoroughly but don’t burn.
5. While the mushrooms are cooking, you can toss your bacon into the microwave to cook it. Once it is cooked and patted to remove grease, roughly chop the bacon into small pieces. (The original recipe used the bacon in strips, but I found that doing that and then piling mushrooms and cheese on top made it all topple over and not everybody got bacon–blasphemy!).
6. Shred your cheese and set it aside. Or, buy shredded cheese and just measure it out. Whatever floats your boat.
7. Once your mushrooms are done cooking and have cooled a bit, transfer them to a cutting board and chop them roughly into smaller pieces. They don’t have to be chopped or diced to perfection, just made a little bit smaller.
See how pretty all the ingredients look just waiting to be poured on top of chicken:
8. Time to cook the chicken. In a cast iron skillet (or large pan of your choosing, I use my Le Crueset sauce pan since it is the perfect size) melt your butter over high heat. Add the chicken breasts to the pan and cook 5 minutes on each size. The chicken breasts will be almost cooked through and the remainder of the cooking will be done in the oven.
9. Transfer your chicken to a glass baking dish that you’ve sprayed with olive oil (or Pam or whatever cooking spray that you use so the chicken won’t stick to the bottom). Brush the remaining marinade onto the chicken breasts, distributing it evenly between them.
10. Sprinkle the chopped bacon pieces onto the chicken breasts, ensuring that both get equal bacon lovin’.
11. Pour the chopped mushroom pieces onto the chicken breasts, also ensuring that both get equal mushroom lovin’.
12. Sprinkle the shredded cheese over both chicken breasts, you know, making sure it’s evenly divided between the two chicken breasts.
13. Pop your dish into the oven for about 15-20 minutes. You want the chicken to finish cooking, and the cheese to have melted and gotten bubbly and maybe even a little brown (at least, I like my cheese a little bubbly and brown).
14. Serve your deliciousness with the veggie of your choosing and voila! It tastes great, has tons less calories than the original recipe and has been made Paleo friendly by the exclusion of the honey. We enjoyed ours with roasted broccoli.