Tastes Great Looks Bad: Oven “Fried” Chicken
With resolutions and diet season upon us, it’s a timely bit of irony that I come home at night craving fried chicken. In the interim, I fill the void of deprivation with one of my favorite weeknight low-guilt meals: baked chicken. It’s comforting, delicious, easy, and with this clever styling trick, crispy without the grease of traditional fried chicken. The secret to beautiful, crispy baked chicken lies in the breading. Just like Rach says and does: to get a crispy coating on anything, dredge it first in flour, then egg, and then breadcrumbs. The secret to keeping your breading on the chicken (instead of sliding off onto your dinner plate) is in the flour. When you’ve got your breading station set up, take a few pinches of flour and whisk them in with your eggs until it resembles the consistency of pancake batter. This small step helps all of the breading to bond together and creates a super crispy breading on the outside of your chicken.
Should the rare opportunity present itself that you have some extra time (I know, I know, it’s a long shot), let the breading dry on the chicken for about about 15 minutes before you put it in the oven. This bit of curing time gives everything even more “bonding time”. Just think of it this way – bread your chicken, then turn the oven on. By the time the oven is hot, you’ll be ready to go!
Crispy Oven “Fried” Chicken
- 1/2 cup flour, divided
- 3 eggs
- 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
- 2 cups panko-style bread crumbs
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh herbs, whatever you’ve got in the fridge (about a handful)
- 4 skinless, bone-in chicken breasts (halved) or thighs
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Nonstick cooking spray
Preheat oven to 400ºF. Set up a baking sheet with a cooling screen on it and reserve. Set up three dishes on a work surface. Fill the first with the flour; in the second whisk together the eggs, dijon, and 1/4 cup flour (borrowed from the first dish); in the third combine the panko and herbs. Season the chicken pieces liberally with salt and pepper and coat each first in the flour, then the egg mixture, and finally in the breadcrumb mixture, pressing lightly on the breadcrumbs to make sure that they stick. Arrange the coated chicken on the prepared baking sheet and mist each lightly with the nonstick cooking spray. Bake until the breading is golden brown and the meat is cooked through, about 40 minutes. Serve.
Patrick W. Decker’s life revolves around food. Always has. Probably always will. As a graduate of The Culinary Institute of America and past member of the culinary team on Rachael’s daytime talk show, he now works as a food stylist and producer in NYC by day, and a food writer and recipe developer at his home in New York’s Hudson Valley by night. You can see what he’s up to by following his latest twEATs on Twitter at @patrickwdecker or visiting his website at patrickdecker.com.