Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Breaking Bad Night 2nd May 2016

written by Dee

I wanted to put a Breaking Bad themed menu and accompanying playlist together ever since I finished watching the series over a year ago.  We prepared our first cult television themed menu in March last year, and it was a great success.  That one focused on Twin Peaks (click here for details) and I wanted to do something along the same lines.  
As time passed though, I found myself getting more and more bogged down with the tiniest details.   I was so intent on trying to get everything exactly how I wanted it and making everything from scratch that I over-engineered the whole thing and turned something that was supposed to be fun into a logistical nightmare.  The plans were shelved for a while and they became another project that seemed like a good idea at the time but wasn’t worth the effort.  It wasn’t the first time that I’d done this and I dare say it won’t be the last.  
Earlier this week though I decided to have another look at it.  I dusted off the notes that I’d made and drew up some new plans for a menu which I could enjoy that would look good when photographed and could be shared with as much confidence as I can ever manage to muster up for one of my blog entries.  A recipe shortcut here and a shop-bought ingredient there made it far more manageable, and on Friday night Jay and I sat down to our long-overdue Breaking Bad themed meal.

Starter:  Funyuns with Madrigal Dips
Funyuns are a brand of onion ring crisps, which were part of Jesse Pinkman’s junk food diet throughout the series.  I wasn’t able to get the specific product, but there appeared to be very little difference between them and the onion rings that are available in any supermarket, so I used those.

The Madrigal dips on the other hand, took more careful preparation.  These appear in Season Five, in one of the best known scenes of the series, where the President of the Madrigal Corporation is sampling five dipping sauces which have been developed by scientists working for the corporation’s fast food subsidiary.
The onion rings were perfect with the dips, and I was very happy with how they turned out.  There were five in all, just as there were in the series.  I have summarised below what I used to create each one.

Dip #1: Ketchup.  This was simply shop-bought ketchup.  I was going to make some from scratch but ended up taking the quick and easy route.  It was described in the series as being fairly nondescript so home-made ketchup would have probably been less authentic.
Dip #2:  Mesquite Barbeque:  Ketchup, Chipotle en Adobo, Smoked Paprika, Soft Brown Sugar and a dash of Worcestershire Sauce.
Dip #3:  Cajun Kick-Ass:  Ketchup, Tabasco sauce and Cayenne Pepper
Dip #4:  Honey Mustard:  Mayonnaise, Honey and French’s American Mustard
Dip #5:  ‘Franch’ – a combination of French dressing and Ranch dressing:  Mayonnaise, grated Parmesan cheese, Garlic Powder, Herbes de Provence and a small amount of Tarragon vinegar.

We were planning to serve these with a glass of craft beer, specifically the two themed beers which are produced by Green Duck brewery in Stourbridge, but after having tried both of them in the past, they were quite heavy on the coconut flavour and wouldn’t have been a good match for either the Funyuns or the dips.  It is worth sharing a picture of the beers though, and they are definitely worth sampling when they are available.

Main:  Los Pollos Hermanos style Chicken
One of the best known foods from the whole series is the Chicken ‘slow cooked to perfection’ at the Los Pollos Hermanos fast food restaurant chain run by Gustavo Fring.  Because of this, there was little discussion needed over what the menu’s main course would be.

It took a while to find a suitable fried chicken recipe from the hundreds available on line, but in the end I chose to base it on one presented by Tom Kerridge in his television series from a couple of years ago.  It had all the characteristics that I was looking for:  marinating the chicken overnight, a slow cooking time and a richly coloured finish.  I used sour cream rather than buttermilk to marinate the chicken in, and changed a couple of the herbs and spices that were used to coat the chicken, but I can’t really say that it was ‘my’ recipe.  I was again happy with how it turned out, and served it with sides of coleslaw and roasted sweet potato wedges, which I felt gave a good impression of a fast-food meal.

A glass of crisp, dry white wine made an ideal accompaniment to the main course: White wine being Skyler White's drink of choice.

Dessert:  Waffles with Cajeta
Dessert turned out to be the most difficult course to plan for, as there aren’t all that many mentions of them in the series.  There are plenty of blue crystal themed cakes and sweet treats but I didn’t want to go down that route; mainly because I’m not all that creative as a cook and partly because I wanted to feature, as far as possible, food and drink that was enjoyed by the characters on screen.  In fact, I had to cheat a little by selecting waffles, which were enjoyed by Walt Jr for breakfast rather than after a main meal, but I don’t eat waffles much so decided to include them in this menu.  They needed a sauce or a topping to make them into a complete dessert and while Maple Syrup was the most obvious choice, I decided instead to serve them with Cajeta.

I don’t think Cajeta is featured in the series at all, but it wouldn’t be out of place in New Mexico or any of the eating establishments featured in the series so I went with it.  It is the Mexican version of Dulce de Leche; a caramel sauce made from sweetened and thickened milk and is served with ice cream, shortbread biscuits and churros, and I am pleased to say that it is great with waffles too.

We were going to make Camomile Tea and Soya Milk to serve with the dessert.  This was a drink which appeared in Season Five, as ordered by Lydia Rodarte-Quayle in the Grove CafĂ©, but we didn’t fancy it so decided to leave it off the menu.

The Playlist

Music was perhaps even more prevalent in the series than food, and there were so many great songs featured throughout that it was impossible to fit them all onto just the one soundtrack album, so I found a list of all the music featured in the series and made my own playlist of my favourite tunes.  There is a very eclectic mix here, as there are in all of my playlists.
There is over two hours’ worth of music here, with the songs arranged in chronological order, starting with Season One and ending with Season Five.

Rodrigo y Gabriela – Tamacun
Clyde McPhatter – You’re moving me
Darondo – Didn’t I
Fujiya & Miyagi – Uh
10,000 Maniacs – Candy everyone wants
The Motels – Suddenly last Summer
JJ Cale – Anywhere the wind blows
Benny Mardones – Into the Night
Nancy Sinatra – It’s such a pretty world today
Miguel Enriquez y Sus Torrenciales – Nariz Inquieta
Blue Mink – Good Morning Freedom
The Marshall Tucker Band – Heard it in a love song
America – A horse with no name
Buddy Stuart – In the Valley of the Sun
Peder – Timetakesthetimetimetakes
Son of Dave – Shake a Bone
Zoraida Beato – Tus Ojos
The Association – Windy
Alexander – Truth
The Trak Cartel – Up in the Club
Fever Ray – If I had a heart
Ana Tijoux – 1977
Pretty Poison – Catch me I’m falling
The Fixx – Saved by Zero
Walter Wanderley – Crickets sing for Anna Maria
Bang Data – Bang Data
Apollo Sunshine – We are born when we die
Danger Mouse, Daniele Lupi, feat. Norah Jones – Black
Mack Owen – Somebody just like you
The Peddlers – On a clear day you can see forever
Knife Party – Bonfire
The Monkees – Goin’ Down
Tommy James & the Shondells – Crystal Blue Persuasion
Slim Rhodes – Romp and Stomp
Steve Perry – Oh Sherrie
The Limeliters – Take my true love by the hand
April Wine – Sign of the Gypsy Queen
Marty Robbins – El Paso
Badfinger – Baby Blue

So there it is.  Our Breaking Bad themed menu and playlist.

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