When we were little, my sister received this kid’s cookbook that we just loved. There are actually only three recipes I remember making from it, but we made them over and over again. There was the yummy, chunky apple sauce, these awesome cakes that you put in an ice cream cone and that looked like ice cream but weren’t (I pulled one out of my lunchbox at school one day to the utter amazement of my friends), and oven baked fried chicken. I loved that chicken. I’m not sure how much my sister and I actually helped, but the one thing I do remember doing is putting the cornflakes for the breading in a big ziplock and mashing it to pieces with a rolling pin. It was so much fun and I felt all grown up. And honestly, the bag and rolling pin is a useful trick I still use often (who wants to sit there chopping walnuts when you could just roll over them?).
Those of you have been following along know that I had knee surgery a little over a month ago and have been relying on Joseph for most of my meals. We also have a freezer full (well, only half full now) of amazing food my mother-in-law sent us home with right before my surgery. Joseph wins the best husband ever award in part because of how he waited on me hand and foot in the first couple weeks after my surgery and still does all the cooking and cleaning, in part because he drives me everywhere (including all my doctor’s and physical therapy appointments of which there are many) because I’m not allowed to drive for a few more weeks, but most especially because he made me this oven fried chicken last week.
Actually, not only did he just make this amazing chicken, he took all the photos. And believe me when I say it tastes even better than it looks. The chicken was so incredibly juicy on the inside with great crunch on the outside and the thyme comes through really nicely. In fact, between the juicyness and the thyme, you’d think it had been brining in a thyme mixture for several hours, but there’s no brining and the thyme is only in the outer breading. It’s not Thomas Keller’s legendary fried chicken, but it is darn good and you won’t feel like you have to eat celery for dessert.
Oven Fried Chicken
Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated
These juicy, flavorful baked chicken breasts are a much healthier take on real fried chicken. The secret to the breading is not cornflakes, like in many recipes, but melba toasts, which provide better more crunch and better flavor.
Trim the chicken breasts with kitchen shears by trimming off the rib sections from each breast following the vertical line of fat from the tapered end of the breast up to the socket where the wing is attached. Confused? Check out some helpful photos here.
1 box plain Melba toast (about 5 ounces), broken into 1-inch pieces
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 large egg whites
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 split bone-in chicken breasts (about 10 ounces each), trimmed following the instructions above, and skin removed
Vegetable cooking spray
Adjust an oven rack to the upper-middle position and heat the oven to 450F. Cover a baking sheet with foil and place a wire rack on top. Process the Melba toast into coarse crumbs in a food processor, about twelve 1-second pulses. Spread the crumbs in a shallow dish and toss with the oil.
In a separate shallow dish, whisk the egg whites, mustard, thyme, garlic powder, and cayenne together.
Pat the chicken dry with paper towels, then season with salt and pepper. Dip each chicken piece into the egg white mixture, then coat with the Melba crumbs. Press on the Melba crumbs to make sure they stick to the chicken. Lay the chicken on the wire rack and spray the tops with vegetable oil spray.
Bake the chicken until the coating is golden, the chicken is no longer pink in the center, and the thickest part registers 160 degrees on an instant read thermometer, about 40 minutes. Serve immediately.