Usually I believe that whatever family recipes we make at home are never as good as the original, but our baked “fried” chicken is a serious contender to my mom’s. I’ve always been amazed at how she could bake chicken and it ends up tasting — and crunching — like it was fried. Well…I think Billy and I have discovered the secret. Goodbye unhealthy, greasy fried chicken, hello delicious, juicy baked chicken.

Here’s what you’ll need:
– 1 whole chicken, cut up
– 2 to 3 cups buttermilk, plus more for dredging
– 2 tsp garlic powder, plus more for dredging
– 2 tsp sweet paprika, plus more for dredging
– 2 tsp cayenne pepper, plus more for dredging
– salt and pepper
– flour for dredging
– bread crumbs for dredging (we used a mix of Panko and regular, and I think that’s the secret to getting it extra crispy)

When my mom bakes chicken, she never soaks it in buttermilk first. Billy and I decided to give this a try to see if it made a difference. So, the first thing you want to do is combine the buttermilk, garlic powder, paprika, cayenne and salt and pepper in a large Ziplock bag. Drop the chicken in the bag and toss to coat. Refrigerate for about an hour.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. To set up a dredging station for the chicken, you’ll need three bowls or deep plates: the first with flour, the second with buttermilk, and the last with the breadcrumb mixture. Make sure to season the flour and breadcrumb stations with the same seasonings you used in the marinade.

After the chicken has been marinading, remove it from the bag one piece at a time and send it through the line of dredges. Try to use one hand for the wet stuff and one for dry so you don’t end up with more breading on your fingers than is on the chicken. Place the breaded chicken pieces on a baking sheet, bone side down. After all the pieces have been breaded, toss the baking sheet into the oven for about 45 minutes, or until all the chicken pieces are cooked through.

Crispy Baked Chicken with Homemade Fries

Crispy. Juicy. Delicious. First off, you’d never know this wasn’t fried chicken…well, maybe the no grease thing would give it away. But really, it was so amazingly crispy (I attribute that to the mix of breadcrumbs), but juicy and tender on the inside. The chicken was so flavorful, probably due to the fact that it soaked in buttermilk (how can you go wrong there, right?!) and seasonings for an hour. Really, this beats any store or restaurant bought fried chicken — and it’s 10 times healthier. Oh, and did I mention that it’s crispy and juicy? Sorry mom, but I think you’ve met your baked chicken match!

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