Part two of this past weekend’s kitchen endeavors with Sassy. In which it was explained that while fried chicken is yummy, homemade fried chicken usually involves more pain, danger and mess than I like deal with on a regular basis. Why not let the oven do the hard work instead? The way I see it, the less contact with scalding globs of grease, the better.
It should also be noted that the boy and I contentedly dug into these leftovers for three days in a row without feeling it was getting either old or tired. So something was definitely right with this recipe. Added bonus — baking versus frying means much less fat all around!
The chicken in question. The original recipe used a whole chicken (2 to 3 pounds) cut into pieces. This meant that it factored bones into the equation. I went for three pounds of pure chicken breast instead, so I had at least 50% more meat to cook.
The cast of characters. We have the dried bread crumbs, garlic powder, salt, ground black pepper, thyme, paprika and… mayonnaise. Yeah, we were kinda wary of the mayo, too, but it actually worked! More on that later.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Get out a bowl that can comfortably accommodate your chicken pieces individually as you bread them. Alternately, you could just toss the ingredients into a gallon-sized ziploc bag for the shake’n’bake route. I prefer a little more control over my breading, though, so we used the bowl. Mix together in the bowl 1 cup of dried bread crumbs (we used Progresso Italian Seasoned Crumbs because it’s what I had on hand, but unflavored crumbs or Japanese panko also work great), 1 round teaspoon of garlic powder, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 round teaspoon pepper, 1 teaspoon thyme, and 1/2 a teaspoon of paprika. Make sure it’s well-distributed so you don’t end up with certain pieces tasting completely like thyme or whatever 😛
Place a cup of mayonnaise in another bowl, then coat your chicken pieces in it before breading. If you’re keeping the skin on the chicken, go light on the mayo. If it’s skin off, you have a bit more leeway — the point is for that fat to create a nice insulating layer around the meat so it doesn’t get too dried out during baking.
Place mayo-covered chicken in the breading mix and flip it around until it’s well coated. We use the bury-and-retrieve method to make sure it gets at every crevice — just pile the breading on top, jamming it into every part of the chicken visible, like you’re trying to hide a dead body. Because… well, you kinda are. Then dig it out gently and it’ll be covered in thick crumb coating. I’m generous with the breading because thin coatings get soggy easy and who wants soggy chicken?
Chicken pieces go onto a lightly greased (canola oil in a spray can ftw!) baking dish and bake for 45 minutes or until the juices run clear.
Our chicken, ready to be baked. A few side notes: we found that since we were using larger pieces of chicken, there was an extended baking time which might have left the chicken a bit dry if it weren’t for our generous coating technique. Turning the heat up to 375 F would probably have helped combat this. On 350, I ended up cooking the things for over an hour before the meat thermometer said that they were done (165F core temp for poultry).
We baked these simultaneously with garlic red potatoes, which ended up working out very nicely because we saved time and oven energy. Always find a way to use both racks of the oven at the same time if you can, if you’re gonna take the trouble to heat it up, might as well take full advantage of it.