I can never make things easy for myself without doing something at the same time that makes it harder. When I decided to make my Marinated Slow Cooker Chuck Roast because it was hot and I was tired I should have stopped. But I decided to also make breaded vegetables. And, being me, I thought I should try something different. So here it is; Breaded Zucchini, Mushrooms & Onions – An Experiment.
We really enjoy breaded vegetables so I make them fairly often. I always pull out my deep fryer and carefully monitor the temperature. The seasoning isn’t really fancy but it’s always more than just salt and pepper. But for this experiment I was determined to keep it simple.
Okay. The truth is that, even though the slow cooker chuck roast didn’t take much work I was tired. There was a tiny incident at the rehearsal dinner last week during which my now son-in-law hit me in the side of the head, nearly knocking me off my chair and, I’m almost positive, breaking my neck. I haven’t been sleeping well since. When I lie down something in my neck seems to make my right foot buzz. It’s weird.
Yet even though I was tired and had decided on a slow cooker meal I couldn’t help but turn into my own Spanish Inquisition dungeon master and torture myself. I’m probably this way because poor, long-suffering Mr. Comfortable puts up with me and someone has to seek revenge for him. And it’s clear I’m really good at self-abuse. So instead of enjoying a day of not working hard on dinner I decided to go cut things up and bread them then drop them in hot oil.
Breaded Zucchini, Mushrooms & Onions – An Experiment because I was semi-lazy.
When I started slicing the zucchini the whole idea of breaded vegetables sounded brilliant. By the time I’d moved on to the onion I was doubting myself. By doubting myself I mean I’d gone full-out Irish and was spitting invectives through clenched teeth directed at myself. Around the time I heard myself hissing “Ya fat, feckin’ idjit!” I realized I’d have to make a few changes to the normal recipe. Or just toss everything and go to bed.
But I still wanted the darned breaded vegetables! Damn you, Vegetables and your crunchy deliciousness! It was full speed ahead and damn the torpedoes! Adjustment number one: salt and pepper were on the counter. The rest of the seasoning was way over there in the cupboard. Salt and pepper only. Check.
The fryer was up on top of my “food center” which meant not only walking to it but lifting the fryer and carrying it back. What’s a girl to do? My Dutch oven was close and so was the oil. Who cares about proper temperatures? Hot is hot, right? And if the ranting Irishwoman in my head got her way the hot oil would be poured over my head and the vegetables would sit, breaded and raw until I got out of the burn ward.
I’d pulled flour, eggs, and panko breadcrumbs out before I started slicing the zucchini so I had most of what I needed right there. Or so I thought.
The mushrooms came sliced so I only had to finish the zucchini and cut onion rings. But by that time I was working in a haze so I didn’t exactly make rings. I cut slices and threw the whole things in the flour and eggs. Some of the onions were determined to make up for my culinary insufficiency and turned themselves into rings. A couple slices went along with my insanity and stuck together.
I dipped each vegetable into the seasoned flour and smacked the excess off. When I remembered to smack it off, that is. Then the lightly (mostly) flour-coated vegetables were dipped in the egg. I started with the zucchini and the panko breadcrumbs stuck nicely.
When I got to the mushrooms I discovered that vegetable has strict rules about what it will wear and the panko didn’t want to stick. It was easy to switch to regular breadcrumbs although I did have to get off my stool and walk to the pantry. My hips vowed to get even with me for this extra little trip but I made it there and back.
Plain breadcrumbs because mushrooms are uppity.
The plain breadcrumbs stuck perfectly to the mushrooms. The onions got some panko breading and some plain breading. I didn’t care. I had a plan, should Mr. C complain (which he never does but I had already run through his cutting commentary and subsequent homicide in my head). I would take the dogs and the ducks and go on the lam. I could live in the woods behind Pete and Andi’s and, since I have a key I could watch satellite TV and shower while they were at work and then sleep in the woods. Unless it got too hot or there were spiders. Then I’d have to go back into the house. The kids would never rat me out. They like my cooking too much.
So…I poured a perfectly measured amount of oil (“Yep. That looks about right”) in the Dutch oven and gently placed the zucchini in the hot oil. It wasn’t as gently as I wanted. It was more like carpet bombing Baghdad but the vegetables ended up in the oil and only a little oil ended up on me. Close enough.
I poked and prodded the vegetables occasionally. That was the only effort I put into making sure they browned evenly. I developed a near-terminal case of ADD while frying. There I was, expertly timing things (one Mississippi, two Mississippi…) when the crazed chipmunk that lives in my brain jumped up and screeched “Is that a deer? In the field right there!” I lost track of Mississippi’s trying to follow the chipmunk’s pointing paw but the irate Irishwoman was watching the stove and pulled the vegetables out on time. Mostly on time. A few were in a bit longer than absolutely necessary and the onions should have stayed in the pool a lot longer.
After the vegetables drained and I seasoned them again I plopped some down on our plates. I had no expectation that they would be good. My greatest hope was that they’d be edible. And they were good!
The chipmunk, lying back and munching on a zucchini slice told me I worried too much. The Irishwoman complained about the under cooked onion slices, rings, and bits. But Mr. Comfortable and I thought everything was just right.
The Breaded Zucchini Mushrooms & Onions – An Experiment turned out okay. I even reheated some of the vegetables later and had them with my Mexi-ranch dip. But the next time I make them I’ll try to remember to do things in stages. The chipmunk is too excitable and the Irishwoman scares the hell out of me!