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Yes, a Recipe: Shameful Chicken

January 5, 2012

One thing that I’ve discovered in the past few weeks is something I am simultaneously ashamed and compelled to tell you about. It’s a new (to me) way to bread and oven-fry chicken. One gets the sense that it would have been popular in the Better Homes and Gardens set in the 70s, though everyone was probably too busy buying Shake and Bake, because something in a box probably seemed easier at that point in time.

First, I was at Target and found some boneless, skinless, somewhat inoffensive looking (no hormones, the word “natural all over the package, etc.) chicken breasts. You know, in the grocery section they’ve wedged in among the toys and clothing and scrapbooking materials.

I cannot get over grocery shopping at Target, and yet I do it when I am there.

Anyhow, somewhat sustainably produced chicken breasts for $3, and I bought them. A few days passed. I don’t often cook chicken breasts. I find them boring and easy to ruin, though I do have a few fantastic go-to recipes for them. One of my favorites is with onion, almonds, and lots of butter. Another is with sage and prosciutto, which, let me tell you, I never have on hand.

“Austerity is the new abundance,” a friend recently said, and then said “or is it that abundance is the new austerity?” Anyhow, this is a sentiment I can get behind and I wanted to use up those Italian-seasoned bread crumbs before they lingered in my cabinet, uselessly, for too long.

What could I do with chicken and breadcrumbs? Surely something — it sounded like a winning combination.

I started googling and found that there is a popular recipe template using the following ingredients:

chicken

mayonnaise

bread crumbs

parmesan cheese

Whoa. The idea is that you mix mayo in with parmesan, dip the chicken in the mixture, coat with breadcrumbs. and cook briefly in a super-hot oven.

I lacked parmesan cheese but I had some shreddy Mexican mix, and I shook in a smidge of cayenne pepper, too. I started to coat the chicken. Then I realized that I hadn’t made enough mayo mixture, and I added an egg and some olive oil and a bit of salt. A little lemon for acid. I figured I was putting in the mayo ingredients without emulsifying them.

Basically, I’m on the road to the message that you can’t mess this chicken up. It was fantastic. I made it again last night with boneless, skinless thighs. Chicken thighs, that is.

With the breasts, I’d started them at 450 for about 12 minutes and then gotten scared and turned it down to 350 for about 10. They were perfect. Tender, juicy, and yet cooked through. Browned on the outside. With the thighs, I did 400 for about 22 minutes. And I used romano cheese that time. Both were perfect. It’s like secretly frying chicken in mayonnaise. Don’t tell anyone. But pass it on.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. January 5, 2012 6:39 pm

    When our school’s chef does oven fry chicken the kids go crazy. It’s the best fried/nonfried chicken I have had. K loves it too. The only time she’ll eat fried is oven fried.

  2. sarah L permalink
    January 5, 2012 7:30 pm

    sounds yummy; can’t wait to try it!

  3. Lilo permalink
    January 6, 2012 3:34 am

    I will admit, I have been known to oven bake. Never with mayo, I will try that. We also use the technique with fish with good result. Sometimes a little mustard in the wet ingredients. Sort of like homemade chicken nuggets and fish sticks without opening a box from the freezer and tasting much better. I have heard that using matzo meal gives great cruncy results but have yet to try that (though now I have some in the pantry, so watch out!).

  4. Alana permalink
    January 10, 2012 12:55 pm

    I’m on board! Do you cover them for any part of the 22 minutes at 400?

  5. Linda Zindler permalink
    January 12, 2012 6:07 pm

    Add white horseradish to the cheese and mayo and this is a tasty coating for any white or esp. bluefish, baked briefly at a high temp. Breadcrumbs on top – and broiler it for a minute or two. Fisherman say that mayo draws the oily taste out of the fish. Also, you are right, we did do this in the 70’s – Ritz crackers, blenderized, were the secret ingredient!

  6. Heather permalink
    January 17, 2012 6:13 pm

    The only shameful thing about the chicken is how much of it I just ate.

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