Friday, January 9, 2009

Oven "Fried" Chicken

This recipe comes out of Mark Bittman's "How to cook everything", my new favorite cookbook.
The idea behind this recipe is to get the crunch of fried chicken, without the hassle or artery-clogging effects of deep frying, or stopping at your local Popeye's fried chicken. Also, there's less of a chance you'll be stabbed while making this chicken than visiting Popeye's.

Because the recipe is so simple, it allows for any elaborations or substitutions that you might want. The three main ingredients are some form of protein, bread crumbs, and some sort of sticky medium to bind the bread crumbs.
Directly from the book:

1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon paprika (optional)
1/2 teaspoon cayenne, or ground black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 whole chicken, 3 to 4 pounds trimmed of excess fat and cut into pieces, or assorted chicken parts.
2 cups panko or fine bread crumbs.

Recipe Modifications: I didn't have any buttermilk, so I substituted 1 egg blended with a tablespoon of water as the book suggests. I used smoked Spanish paprika which is to me not an optional ingredient, but I replaced the cayenne with 1 teaspoon of smoked black pepper. For the chicken I just used a package (6) boneless skinless chicken thighs, because a) they're cheap and b) dark meat is best. Feel free to substitute skinless breast if you want extra healthy, or to cut up a whole chicken yourself (cheap, but messy). I also added chopped cilantro to the breadcrumbs, but this is by no means necessary.

Panko is a Japanese style of breadcrumb, made from the crumb of the bread rather than the crust. It's also crushed very fine.. don't try to use those big stuffing breadcrumbs. Panko should be available at most grocery stores (I got it at Target).

  • 1.Heat the Oven to 400 F. Mix the buttermilk, paprika, cayenne, and salt in a large bowl. Add the chicken and let it soak a few minutes, coating it completely. Meanwhile put the breadcrumbs in a shallow dish or large bowl and brush a baking sheet with oil or cover it in foil.

(the green bits are chopped cilantro, optional)

  • 2.Remove the chicken from the bowl a piece at a time and coat in the bread crumbs. Place the coated chicken on the baking sheet, leaving at least an inch between pieces.

  • 3.Bake the chicken until the exterior is golden brown and the chicken is done through. 30-40 minutes. This took me 30 minutes, it's going to depend on the size and cuts of chicken you use. Make sure you check them regularly. There is no need to flip them, they'll cook evenly without it.

I served this over spinach, with balsamic and olive oil, with a side of mushrooms and garlic.

Taste: 10/10 This is excellent! While it's not going to fool you into thinking it's real fried chicken, it retains what I think are the best things about fried chicken, a crunchy exterior, and very moist flavorful meat. The chicken thighs worked really well, but using bone-in, skin-on chicken would add even more flavor. The true success in this recipe lies in the fact that it's not a weak substitute for deep frying, but good in different ways.. it's not greasy!

Ease of preparation: 9/10: This recipe is going to take you about 50 minutes to make, but considering 30 of those minutes are in the oven, it's an easy recipe to throw together. The small number of ingredients, most of which you can substitute help this recipe out here. A small tip I have is to use a bowl for the panko, and not a shallow dish. I was trying to be careful with the breading, but still managed to get bread crumbs everywhere.

1 comment:

Matt said...

This recipe is right looks delicious. Will try, need panko. There's a 5% chance I'll remember to buy panko next time I'm at Target. I still want to try it though.