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Food Matters: Frozen Austin’s Pizza, fried chicken and more


Frozen version of Austin’s Pizza debuts at H-E-B

One of Austin’s best known pizzerias is now selling pies in a freezer aisle near you.

Austin’s Pizza, a local staple since 1999 that now has 13 area locations, launched a line of frozen pizzas this week that includes pepperoni and three Austin-inspired varieties: Brazos (Canadian bacon, pepperoni, onions, green peppers, jalapenos and feta cheese), Downtown Special (pepperoni, sausage, black olives and mushrooms) and Mopac (Canadian bacon, pepperoni, sausage, onions, bell peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms and olives).

Starting this week, the pizzas will be available at H-E-B stores in Austin, San Antonio, Houston and San Marcos. At $8.99 each for a 12-inch pizza, they aren’t quite as inexpensive as other frozen pizza brands, but with a crispy crust and whole-milk mozzarella cheese, the pizzas we tried in the newsroom last week were universally loved, even by a vegetarian who put aside her meat-eschewing ways for a sample. For more information, go to


Taste of Mexico, Farm to Plate food events coming up

Mexic-Arte Museum is hosting a celebration of Mexican cuisine from 6 to 9 p.m. April 27 at Brazos Hall, 204 E. Fourth St.

The Taste of Mexico event will feature a number of local restaurants, including Casa Chapala, Geraldine’s, Llama’s Peruvian Creole, Licha’s Cantina, Ranch 616, Sazon and Matt’s El Rancho. Guests can try a number of local products, including salsas from Concha’s and chips from Beanitos.

There will also be cocktails, coffee and beer, as well as a pop-up print shop and bazaar with Mexican folk arts, crafts and gifts for sale. Before the event, you can take a cooking class with Kitchen Underground. Tickets cost $45 or $35 for museum members and are available at

The Sustainable Food Center’s annual Farm to Plate fundraiser is back with an all-star lineup of local chefs, who will be serving bites of locally sourced food from 7 to 9:30 p.m. May 11 at Barr Mansion.

This year, they’ve added a VIP happy hour that starts at 6 p.m. and will feature food and a cocktail from Juniper chef Nicholas Yanes. Other chefs that will be participating in the main part of the event include Jared Conoley of Olivia, John Lichtenberger of Peche, Michael Paley and Amanda Rockman of the South Congress Hotel, Rob Snow from Greenhouse Craft Food, Trace’s Angel Begaye and James Zoller, and Erica Beneke, who recently left her post at Max’s Wine Dive to join the team at Asti.

The event is SFC’s primary fundraiser and will include the presentation of the annual Sustainable Food Changemaker awards. General admission is sold out, but you can buy VIP tickets for $300 at Some tables are still available.


A healthy spin on fried chicken from New York chef Melba Wilson

Melba Wilson might have learned the restaurant ropes at various eateries in New York City, but the Harlem native credits her grandmother, Amelia, for teaching her how to cook. Wilson owns her own restaurant now, Melba’s, in Harlem, where she serves comfort food classics, including meatloaf, mac and cheese, mashed potatoes and the fried chicken and eggnog waffles that beat Bobby Flay’s chicken and waffles on his Food Network show.

Since we’re talking about chicken this week, I wanted to share her spin on fried chicken, which involves panko bread crumbs, mayonnaise and an oven. This recipe is from her debut cookbook, “Melba’s American Comfort: 100 Recipes from My Heart to Your Kitchen” (Atria, $30), which came out last week.

Oven-Fried Chicken

With a lot less fat (and a lot less mess) but all the great flavor of traditional fried chicken, this is also a great way to serve fried chicken to a crowd. Just increase the quantities as needed, put it in the oven, and you’re done. You can even make it in advance and serve it at room temp.

— Melba Wilson

6 chicken thighs

6 chicken drumsticks

1 tsp. poultry seasoning

1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper, plus additional to taste

3/4 cup panko bread crumbs

1/4 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs

1 tsp. salt

2 Tbsp. whole milk

1/2 cup mayonnaise

Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 9-inch-by-13-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.

Put the chicken in a bowl and season with the poultry seasoning, cayenne and 1 teaspoon of black pepper. In a second bowl, combine the bread crumbs, the salt, and pepper to taste. Combine the milk and mayonnaise in a shallow dish. Dredge the chicken pieces in the milk mixture and then in the bread crumbs.

Lay the breaded chicken in the prepared pan and bake for 45 minutes. Then turn it over and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes until it is done. When done, it should register 165 degrees on an instant-read meat thermometer and, when pierced with a fork, the juices should run clear. Transfer to paper towels to drain before serving. Serves 4 to 6.

— From “Melba’s American Comfort: 100 Recipes from My Heart to Your Kitchen” by Melba Wilson (Atria, $30)

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