Who doesn't love fried chicken? It's a favorite treat among many, and definitely this household. But sadly, my waist has been voicing some objections as of late — something about vats of oil and whatnot. And yet I have found a way to have my juicy, crispy "fried" chicken — guilt-free.
Fried chicken has firmly kept its place on my list of favorite foods, since for our weeknight "fried" chicken fare we fake it by coating the buttermilk-bathed chicken in crushed, spiced-up puffed rice cereal.
After about half an hour in the hot oven, the chicken emerges: juicy, crispy, intensely flavored – just like fried, except without the guilt.
1 quart buttermilk
1/2 onion, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
2 bay leaves
4 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
1 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper, divided
Tabasco sauce, enough to slightly color the buttermilk
12 chicken parts (I used drumsticks and thighs)
4 cups puffed-rice cereal
1 1/2 teaspoons mustard powder
3/4 teaspoons cayenne pepper
In a large non-reactive bowl, whisk together buttermilk, onion, garlic, bay leaves, 2 teaspoons salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and Tabasco. Submerge the chicken in buttermilk mixture, cover and refrigerate overnight.
Preheat oven to 425°F. Place an ovenproof wire rack on top of a rimmed, shallow baking sheet. In a food processor, pulse together cereal, mustard, cayenne, remaining 2 teaspoons salt and remaining 1/2 teaspoon pepper until coarse crumbs form. Transfer to a wide, shallow dish.
Working with one chicken piece at a time, lift chicken out of buttermilk mixture, allowing the excess to drip off, and roll around in crumbs until well-coated, lightly pressing on the chicken here and there. Place chicken on a rack allowing space between chicken parts, and bake until the crispy coating is golden and the chicken is cooked through, 35 to 40 minutes (but check on chicken after 30). Serve immediately, or allow to cool completely on the wire rack.
(Images: Olga Massov of Sassy Radish)