In which, I tried tweaking a classic, with much success!
My favorite comfort food is fried chicken. But all the recipes I’ve seen (and tried) so far, called for frying the chicken pieces. It is fried chicken, after all. While that’s a simple process, making fried chicken has always been a hit-and-miss for me, simply I find it hard to gauge if the oil is hot enough, or if there’s even enough oil and when the chicken’s fried, if it’s fried through. Don’t you just hate it, that after you’ve eaten most of a chicken thigh, the meat near the bone is still red? I do!
So I was excited when I stumbled upon this recipe from Food52, a foodie/cooking site that I love, because it contains a lot of recipes that an amateur cook like me can do. So what was great about this fried chicken recipe? Many things! For one, you don’t fry it, instead you stick it into the oven to bake. And, you use butter — and butter, as a friend once said is the source of all things good! Three, the process was unusual enough that it got the nerd in me curious. And last, it promised to be a no-fail recipe, which always piques my interest.
So far, we’ve made it twice and both times, the fried chicken was crispy, buttery and utterly delicious. So try it and see how it goes! Great for pairing with any of the salads or side dishes you usually have with fried chicken. As for me, being Filipino, I eat this with rice and ketchup, which D thinks is a sacrilege! :p
Oven-Baked Fried Chicken
(Modified from Food52’s recipe)
1 kilo mixed chicken parts
(Food52 calls for chicken thighs, but we usually use wings and drumsticks. As for quantity, it depends on the number of people eating and their appetite.)
2 tablespoons sea salt
(Food52 specifies three, but we found that fried chicken came out too salty, so we used 2 tbsp.)
(Food52 requires 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, but we like salted butter because it was more flavorful and using around 3 to 4 tbsps was best)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
Pepper to taste
Directions: 1. In the morning, combine the salt with about a cup of water in a large bowl or container that can hold all the chicken you plan to cook. Stir to make sure the salt has dissolved. Add the chicken parts (after you’ve trimmed it to your specifications) and fill the container with very cold water. Add some ice cubes. Put in fridge to marinate until dinnertime, when you’re ready to cook. Note: If you’re cooking this for dinner, do the marinating in the morning. If you’re doing it for lunch, do it the night before. I’ve found that you get the best results after you’ve marinated it for several hours.
2. Preheat the oven to 400F (or 200C). In a roasting pan big enough to fit the chicken into one layer, without crowding them, add the butter and place it in the oven.
3. Remove chicken from fridge and pat dry with paper towels. Fill a plastic bag with the flour, salt and pepper. Shake it to mix the ingredients. Put the chicken pieces two at a time in the bag and shake to cover with flour mixture. As you take the pieces out of the bag, shake them thoroughly so the flour covering isn’t thick. Place them on a plate. Repeat with the rest. Note on ingredients: I added some powdered garlic to flour mixture. Food52 also suggests you can add grated Parmesan cheese. I haven’t tried that yet.
4. Take the roasting pan out of the oven, and lay the chicken in it. If you’re using thigh parts, place them skin side down. Food52 warns that you shouldn’t overcrowd them because they’ll stew (like mushrooms) instead of fry. As you can see from the picture, we didn’t follow this and the chicken still came out nice and crisp. Maybe we were lucky?
We obviously didn’t obey the instruction to “don’t overcrowd the chicken”. And we used way more butter. What can I say? Butter = life. 😉
5. Bake the chicken for 40 minutes (sometimes longer) until they’re brown. After 40 minutes, take pan out of the oven, and flip the chicken over. Put back pan in oven, rotating it so the front is now at the back. Bake for another 20 minutes or until done. Remove from pan and serve. Note: Food52 says to sprinkle with salt and pepper before serving. But we found the chicken tasty enough without the additional seasoning. But you may want to, of course.
Here’s the original recipe from Food52. The note in the original recipe says that the fried chicken is good anytime of the day, and it’s true. The last time we made this, we couldn’t finish the chicken (I mean, take a look at the number of chicken pieces in that pan!) so we had it for lunch the next day, without even heating it up. Still perfect!