Guilt-Free Oven Roasted “Faux Fried” Chicken
My love affair with fried chicken started in Grade 2, when, on a fateful autumn day, my mom took me on my first trip to KFC. Ever since then, I’ve cultivated a heady (and unhealthy) obsession with the greasy fast food. By age 8, I could effortlessly polish off 8 pieces of KFC in one sitting. I used to love ordering a family-size bucket of chicken, and watching the cashier’s expression change to a mixture of confusion, awe and bewilderment when she realised that the entire meal is just for one little girl. My seemingly bottomless appetite actually worried my parents, and they even took me to the doctor to check for tapeworms, since no one could figure out where all that food went. Mind you, I was never an obese child, just one with a lightening fast metabolism.
Alas, my days of carefree gorging while hanging off of monkey bars have ended, and I now have to be conscious of my “lifestyle” choices. I still love fried chicken, but now my palate has become, somewhat, more refined. Now, it’s about quality over quantity. Hence, this past weekend, I contrived my own brand of “fried” chicken with this little recipe I dreamed up while looking for a healthier, lighter version of my favourite guilty pleasures. There is no frying involved, although the technique of “fake frying” yields golden, crispy chicken that is every bit as good (or even better!) than the original finger-lickin’ Colonel Sanders’ version. Served alongside roasted corn and garlic broccolis (of which you can roast in the same oven as the chicken!) this actually makes for quite a healthy, balanced meal. Below, I share my “secret” recipe of herbs and spices. Happy Cooking everyone!
What you’ll need (serves 2 – 3, depending on greediness):
Marinate the chicken pieces in the fridge overnight
- 6 pieces of chicken (thighs & drumsticks)
- 250g of natural, unsweetened yogurt
- 1 cup of milk
- 1 tbls of brown sugar
- 3/4 tbls of salt
- 1 tbls garlic powder
- 1/2 tbls of dried thyme
Before oven-roasting, dust chicken pieces with the following ingredients
- 1/2 cup flour
- 2 cups panko breadcrumbs
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- 3 tbls melted butter
Marinate the chicken pieces overnight in a bath of yogurt, milk, seasonings and spices (as indicated above). The natural acids in the yogurt will help tenderize the chicken and allow the seasonings to throughly penetrate the meat. Set in the fridge to marinate.
The next day…….
Take the chicken out of the fridge while you pre-heat the oven to 200 celsius. This allows the chicken to slowly come up to room temperature before putting it in the hot oven. This process ensures that the chicken is evenly cooked, inside and out.
While the oven is pre-heating, mix together the flour, panko breadcrumbs, salt, pepper, and paprika in a shallow plate. I prefer using panko breadcrumbs (they are also often called Japanese breadcrumbs) because they are a lot lighter, and come out crispier, than regular breadcrumbs.
Added melted butter to the bottom of your baking dish and coat evenly.
Pluck the chicken pieces out of the marinade and dredge each piece through the flour / batter mixture. The batter should naturally stick to the chicken since the surface will still be wet from the marinade. Place each piece skin-side down on the baking surface.
Once the oven has reached 200 celsius, pop the chicken pieces into the middle rack and bake for 35 minutes. This is the important part!!! For golden, crispy skin, turn the chicken pieces over after 35 minutes and crank up the heat to 225 degrees. Return the chicken to the hot oven for another 12 minutes. This will ensure that delicious, golden crunch.
Voila! Perfect, golden chicken, every time! A crunchy shell with succulent, juicy chicken underneath. I dare say my healthier version is better for the stomach, as well as the heart.