Healthy Family: Critiquing, and learning from, Guy Fieri

  • Updated: December 6, 2012 - 10:10 AM

Inspiration comes in many forms, including restaurant menus.

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Pretzel Chicken taps into an unexpected ingredient, with good results.

Photo: Meredith Deeds, Special to the Star Tribune

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Pete Wells' recent, scathing New York Times review of Guy Fieri's Times Square restaurant had me chuckling both for its style of writing (all questions addressed to Fieri) and its content (not so favorable toward Guy's American Kitchen and Bar). It was entertaining enough that my whole family read it, which prompted some fascinating discussion around the dinner table. Was it over the top? Is Guy Fieri fair game? What in the world is Donkey Sauce? (To see the review, go to tinyurl.com/a8oyvle.)

Everyone had a different take on the topic and I don't think we all agreed at the end. But as we bantered back and forth, it reminded me of other moments like this my family has shared around our dinner table over the years. We've learned to debate, to compromise, to learn about ourselves and each other, all over a shared meal.

Of course for me, it all circles back around to food, and at one point in the review Wells mentions Guy's Awesome Pretzel-Coated Chicken Tenders and how, in his opinion, they were not so awesome. I have no idea how good or "not awesome" those chicken tenders are in Guy's restaurant, but the idea sounded like it had the potential to be delicious.

A change of pace

It's fun to cook with unexpected ingredients, not only for the cook, but for the diner, as well, and even more so if the diners are kids. If the unexpected ingredient happens to be a favorite snack food for the diners in question, better yet. Such is the case with pretzels.

I've seen them in a number of recipes over the years, anything from gelatin salad to casserole toppings to croutons for soup (especially beer cheese soup). The salty, crunchy nature of pretzels seems a nice match for an assortment of other ingredients, and with their sturdy nature they hold up well to cooking without getting too mushy in the process.

They work well as a coating for chicken because they stay crunchy for a long time after the chicken has been baked. It's rare to find a coating that maintains its appeal after it's been refrigerated, but this one does, which is good news for any leftover chicken. The dipping sauce, a mixture of mustard and apricot preserves, couldn't be easier, making the whole dish a winner in my book.

So thank you, Guy Fieri. The review of your restaurant provided plenty of thought-provoking entertainment, as well as a delicious meal for my entire family.

Meredith Deeds of Edina is the author of "Everyday to Entertaining" and "The Big Book of Appetizers." Reach her at meredith@meredithdeeds.com. Follow her on Twitter @meredithdeeds.

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