One of these days, I’m going to buy me a deep fryer.
And when I buy me a deep fryer, I’m going to fry me some chicken.
And when I fry me some chicken, I’m going to win me some medals at the county fair and then deep-fry some Oreos to celebrate.
I probably should be ashamed of my love of fried food, but I’m totally not. I love fried food. I didn’t even like the movie ‘The Help’ but I put it on Netflix every once in a while just to watch the part where Minnie fries her chicken.
I know, I know- I strive to be French in every aspect of life, and admitting I want to lock myself in the closet and eat fried chicken out of a paper bag isn’t really congruent with my image. But… I will gladly point out that one of France’s own, Chef Ludo Lefebvre, has crafted a fried chicken so good it has been named one of the ’99 things to eat before you die in L.A.’ So there.
On the rare (but fabulous) occasion I give into my fried food desires, I just get it out at a restaurant. This keeps my house from smelling and my heart a-pumping (because no matter how you look at it, deep fried food isn’t healthy… especially once you dip your toes in the realm of things like deep-fried Mars bars- which, BTW, I had for the first time in my life this year and, um, it was amazing).
I have been down the road of oven-frying, and it generally just makes me sad. The term ‘oven-fried’ is an oxymoron coined by the health nuts of the world to name something baked that is supposed to imitate something wonderfully, gloriously fried. Deep down, in places you don’t talk about at parties, we all know it never does. If you tell me you make good fried okra and then pull it out of the oven, I’m just plain offended. And so is the okra.
There is one glaring exception to my disappointment with all things labeled ‘oven-fried,’ and it is this Oven-Fried Chicken.
You have to step away from the apples-to-oranges comparison of oven-fried foods vs. deep-fried foods for a minute. When Food Network eventually asks me to participate in “The Best Thing I Ever Made,” this Oven-Fried Chicken will be on it! It is not merely some health-spa alternative to the deep-fried stuff… it’s chicken worth eating again and again in its own right.
You soak the chicken in a seasoned buttermilk mixture overnight so it’s meltingly tender and flavorful. (How many times have you eaten deep-fried chicken that has no flavor beyond the crust? Yeah, that’s not an issue here.) Then it’s coated with a seasoned breadcrumb and cornflake mixture that gives it a nice, thick, crunchy exterior as it bakes. It really is that easy. I can name more than a few deep-fried chicken recipes that pale in comparison to this baked one. Plus, you don’t have to eat it out of a paper bag locked in a closet.
You’ll still find me skulking around Knoxville feeding my deepest, darkest fried okra and catfish desires. (And since you asked, I’ll be at Big Fatty’s, home of my favorite fried okra and catfish.) And I still have my eye out for killer fried chicken. But… when you can make this killer Oven-Fried Chicken in your own kitchen…sans deep fryer… and it’s just so good…
- 2 c buttermilk
- 2 T Dijon mustard
- 2¼ t salt, divided
- 1½ t garlic powder, divided
- 1½ t freshly ground black pepper, divided
- 1 t hot pepper sauce
- 8 split, bone-in, skinless chicken breasts OR 16 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- 2½ c crushed corn flakes
- 1 c fresh bread crumbs
- ½ t ground poultry seasoning
- ½ t paprika
- Pinch cayenne
- 2 T canola oil
- Whisk buttermilk, mustard, 2 t salt, 1 t garlic powder, 1 t black pepper, and hot sauce together in a large bowl. Add chicken; turn to coat well, cover, and refrigerate at least 1 hour or overnight.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil (use 2 baking sheets if using thighs in order to fit everything), set wire rack on sheet, and coat rack with nonstick cooking spray (or use a nonstick wire rack).
- Gently toss corn flakes, bread crumbs, remaining ½ t garlic powder, remaining ½ t black pepper, remaining ¼ t salt, poultry seasoning, paprika, and cayenne in a shallow dish until combined. Drizzle oil over crumbs and toss until well-coated. Working with one piece at a time, remove chicken from marinade and dredge in crumb mixture, firmly pressing crumbs onto all sides of the chicken. Place chicken on prepared rack, leaving ½ inch of space between each piece.
- Bake until chicken is deep golden and juices run clear, about 35-45 minutes.