Cheap Meals for Dummies – Vol. 1

Drums & Potatoes

For those of you who enjoy cooking, my good friend Robert Clement continues to bless us here at C4C by sharing some of his favorite fancy recipes. That man can cook. But what if you don’t enjoy cooking? What if you’re not any good at following quality recipes? What if you never have the ingredients recipes call for? What if you simply can’t cook to save your ass? You know, the type of person who can screw up toast? Or worse yet, what if you’re just broke, or on a tight budget? Well, that’s where I come in with Cheap Meals for Dummies. Recipes so cheap and easy that even the biggest cooking dummies can pull them off without breaking the bank or burning down the kitchen. So put down the frozen food and step slowly away from the microwave, because it’s time to put on your dunce cap… err… I mean chef’s hat and do some really easy cooking.

Deep Fried Drums & Salted Potatoes

Estimated cost per plate: $1.50 – $2.00

What you’ll need:
A Package of Chicken Drumsticks
A Handful of Potatoes
Salt

Optional Ingredients:
Frank’s Red Hot
Pineapple Cake Mix & 2 Eggs
Butter, Garlic Powder & Parmesan Cheese
Flour & 2 Eggs (Mustard for crispy)
Salsa Con Queso & Bacon Bits

We’ll start with the potatoes because they take longer, so they’ll have time to cook while you’re doing the chicken. Fill a pot with enough water to submerge the potatoes. Add a generous amount of salt to the water. Optional: You can add other spices as well, such as pepper, garlic powder, Sazón, etc… but just plain old salt and water if you’re going full-on dummy. Put the potatoes in the water and crank the burner as high as it will go. That’s it… you’re just boiling potatoes. (They’ll take like 20-25 minutes to soften.)

Now let’s get to the good stuff, the drumsticks. Ideally, you have a deep fryer, or at the very least enough oil to put in a pot to submerge the drums completely. If not, you’ll have to put a layer of oil in a pan and actually flip the drums halfway through. If you’re a true dummy, use tongs and gently set them down when you flip them or you’ll get polka-dotted burns on your hands and arms from the oil splattering. That shit’s hot, you know? Anyway, all we’re doing here is deep frying the drums… so heat the oil first to 350 in a deep fryer, or using medium on a burner if you’re doing it on the stove top.  Then just drop them in the oil and and walk away for 10 to 12 minutes. (Or slightly more if you like your chicken extra crispy.)

So all we’ve done is boil potatoes in water and chicken in oil. So far, so easy. Now for the trick to flavoring them. Pick any of the options below, whichever you prefer:

Buffalo Drums (Pictured): Take a round Tupperware container with a lid, or an old Country Crock container if you’re ghetto, and dump some Buffalo sauce into it. (Preferably Frank’s Red Hot, the best condiment in the world.) Put the top on and shake and swirl it around. Place the drums one at a time fat side down into the container, then close it and swirl it around in a circle. This coats the drumstick with hot sauce but keeps the handle clean so you don’t get sticky fingers like you do with chicken wings.

Other variations: Same directions as the Buffalo drums, but you can substitute whatever you like. Barbecue sauce, sweet and sour, teriyaki, blue cheese, etc.

Garlic Parmesan Drums: Same thing with the Tupperware container, only this time you’re going to melt some butter in the microwave first and add a sprinkle of garlic powder to the liquid once it melts. Don’t go too crazy on the garlic powder, nobody wants to smell your stank breath after dinner. Put the melted garlic butter into the Tupperware, close the lid, and then swirl it around. Open the lid… shake some Parmesan cheese into the container, drop the drums in one at a time and swirl them around. Go easy on the Parmesan and just add more in between in each drum.

For battered drums, there’s a couple extra steps before deep frying:

Pineapple-Battered Drums (Pictured): This is one of my made up tricks which takes a couple extra steps before deep frying, but I’ll tell you how because they’re freaking delicious. You’ll need a box of Pineapple Cake Mix. Get two Tupperware containers with lids. In the first one, stir two eggs with a fork into liquid. In the second one, fill it halfway with pineapple cake mix. Take a drum and put it in the egg container first and swirl it around. Remove it and drop it into the cake mix and shake it gently until the drumstick grabs pineapple cake mix on all sides. Then deep fry as usual and the end result is a battered drumstick from heaven.

Regular Battered Drums: Or if you’re ghetto, we’ll call them Banquet-style drums. This also requires the extra steps before deep frying. You do the same thing as the pineapple trick, but put some pepper in with the stirred eggs and use flour instead of cake mix. If you like your chicken super crispy, you can either repeat the process again to double batter them, or simply add some mustard in with the eggs and the mustard will make them come out all crunchy.

As for the potatoes… they’re easy too. Take them out of the water when they’re done and slice an X in the top of them so they split evenly open. Then you can simply eat them as-is (pictured) by dipping them in melted butter, or you can get a little fancier by pouring salsa con queso (cheese sauce, you dummy) over them and sprinkle bacon bits on top for a cheesy-bacon potato sort of thing.

I got a pack of 12 drums on sale at Aldi for 3 bucks, so 3 or 4 to a plate is only 75 cents to a dollar. The potatoes were 3 bucks a sack, so using only a few per plate amounts to like 35 cents. Tack on any of the extras like the eggs, cake mix, flour or sauces.. and you’re still only talking $1.50 to $2.00 per plate.

There you have it. Cheap, easy, delicious, and it kicks the shit out of your frozen dinner, dummy. Now go wash the dishes. Being a cooking dummy is cool, but being a cooking dummy with a kitchen full of dirty dishes is kind of gross.

~Jamie Capria

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