As much as we’d all love to dive into a bucket of glistening fried chicken on the regular, we know that eating the bird in other forms is generally a healthier bet. But not all hope is lost: With the right recipe, baking can elicit the same desirable crunch as the deep fryer. Here are four.
Oven Fried Chicken (above)
Marinate a mess of chicken legs and thighs in an uplifting blend of lemon zest, milk, sugar, cayenne, rosemary and garlic cloves. When the pieces are nice and chilled from a two-hour refrigerator session, shroud them in a mix of baked whole-wheat breadcrumbs and yellow cornmeal. Then, for a savory finish, get some Parmesan and chopped rosemary up in there.
This zippy, spiced version comes courtesy of dipping these boneless, skinless breasts in a bath of buttermilk and Louisiana Hot Sauce, and then dredging the chicken in multigrain panko breadcrumbs, Parmesan, lemon zest and red pepper flakes. Right before parts hit the plate, brighten them with a squirt of fresh lemon.
Sink your teeth into a crisp coating of corn-cereal flakes and crushed whole-grain salted crackers, laced with sesame seeds and cayenne. Submerging the skinless breasts and thighs in egg whites, low-fat yogurt and Dijon mustard will ensure the meat underneath is at its juicy best.
Bobby’s Chicken-Fried Chicken
Reimagine chicken-fried steak as new dish — one that won’t send cardiologists into a tailspin. Season skinless, boneless, pounded chicken breasts with kosher salt, garlic powder and ground black pepper before letting them do time in buttermilk and flour. Brown them in heart-healthy olive oil in a skillet, and then finish them off on a baking sheet in the oven. Once they’re hot and ready, pour over a Southern-inspired gravy of chicken broth, milk, cornstarch and Vidalia onion. One last flourish: a dusting of chopped green onions.
Alia Akkam is a New York-based writer who covers the intersection of food, drink, travel and design. She launched her career by opening boxes of Jamie Oliver books as a Food Network intern.