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Monday, July 9, 2012

RVing, Regional Foods and My Trailblazer Chicken Recipe

One of the simple joys of RVing is exploring the different and delicious regional food specialties that our great country has to offer. From the north to the south – the east to the west, everywhere has a specialty. Often times, you’ll even find a “local” willing to share their recipe simply for the asking. Be sure to carry a pad of paper and a writing utensil for just those occasions. These recipes are priceless souvenirs.

I love to chat with the locals, make up a shopping list, pick up the items needed, and try my hand in my own kitchen. I have a few favorites – direct from the road. For instance, the New England Fish Chowder recipe I got from a real Maine native – a fisherman’s wife who overheard me asking the clerk in a lobster market how many cans of evaporated milk were needed for a good chowder (the answer is one), the unbelievable and authentic Cuban Black Bean recipe I got from my Cuban neighbor while visiting the Florida Keys or the wacky but fabulous Trailblazer Chicken that will have your guests raving about the dish and guessing about the ingredients (don’t tell them until they begin eating) that came from a Trailmanor RV rally in South Dakota.

And then there are the regional specialties that are better left to the pros – soft serve custard at the old Victoria’s Sweet Cream in Glens Falls, New York, gulf shrimp fajitas at San Juan Taqueria in Port Aransas, Texas or barbeque at the Whole Hog in Little Rock, Arkansas – each one a small gem not to be missed (in my humble culinary opinion).

Don’t be shy to ask around about the local specialties and the best places to enjoy them. In most cases, if you talk to those that live in the area they’ll point you towards the lesser advertised, more reasonably priced places – some you’d never find on your own. Some are dives, some are posh – but all will be authentic. It’s a good idea to ask specifics about recommended restaurants. A friend of mine was told about a well regarded (and rather pricey) lobster pound in Maine, looked forward to it all day, dressed for a fancy dinner out, and arrived to find picnic tables near the saltwater boiling pot overlooking the ocean – a typical lobster pound. Who knew? Wonderful but not ritzy. 

When you find something you just love, haunt the groceries and specialty food shops for spices, marinades, or sundry ingredients to take home with you. Chances are the ingredients needed for a regional dish won’t be available in a store halfway across the country. Don’t be afraid of ethnic stores – see something interesting? Ask, they’ll be happy to help you learn. Bringing home recipes and ingredients can make your vacation memories rich and oh, the stories you’ll have to tell to guests when you serve your unusual dishes.

Try this Recipe

To get your juices flowing and your imagination running wild, here’s a recipe for Trailblazer Chicken I know it sounds a little different but trust me – it’ll turn into a “company dish”. Case in point: We were visiting cousin Jeanne and offered to make dinner for the four of us one evening. As I prepared the dish, everyone looked on – drinking wine and chatting. Once dinner was served Jeanne’s friend took a petite portion, tried it and came back for a more manly sized scoop. He joked that when he saw the ingredients he thought, “I’ll be polite, have a taste and say it was very good…no matter what.”

But the joke was on him…it’s a keeper…try it…everyone will like it!

Trailblazer Chicken

Preheat oven to 350 degrees (or stoke your camp cooking fire). Can also be prepared in a crockpot but be careful not to overcook the swift cooking chicken breasts. 

6-8 boneless/skinless chicken breasts
1 small (8oz) bottle of catalina french salad dressing
1 envelope of french onion soup mix
1 can (16 oz) whole berry cranberry sauce

Combine salad dressing, onion soup mix and cranberry sauce in an oven proof dish with lid (or dutch oven) or high-sided tin pan. Mix in chicken breast being sure to coat and if possible cover each piece. Cover cooking vessel and cook approximately 25-35 minutes or until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 170 degrees.

Serve with rice topped with a ladleful of sauce, a salad with french dressing and crusty sopping bread.

Surprise…it's delish!!

If you give this a go, leave a comment below with your experiences and that of your other diners. I'd love to hear about it.


1 comment:

Tia Oshields said...

You sure are right about that! It’s not just the experience of meeting new people that makes RVing a great adventure. It’s also about the local food! With RVing you don’t just get so see more of the world, but you literally feed yourself of its pieces. And hey, that Trailblazer Chicken is completely new to me!

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