Thursday, June 4, 2015

Oven-Fried Chicken

My husband and I have this little ongoing argument. There was a point in time where our very existence could be credited to the recipes in Cooking Light Magazine. My cooking repertoire consisted solely and exclusively of their recipes. They were my go-to and I was their most faithful subscriber. My obsession started early, so early that when I turned 18 and went off to college, my closet was brimming with piles of their magazines that stood nearly 3 feet tall. These sorts of things happen when you begin subscribing to cooking magazines IN HIGH SCHOOL.

Anyhow, the magazine and I were tight and, though admittedly I cooked a number of flops, their recipes more or less kept us fed and happy. Until my husband discovered The Other Guys, that is. Somehow he got his hands on an issue of Bon Appetit and then none of my "light" goodness was ever good enough. He would argue that butter is better (I agree, mostly) while I stated a firm caveat that a recipe does NOT always have to contain an entire stick to be good. Before I knew it, he was unabashedly judging a book by it's cover, looking down skeptically at any meal known to come from my "health food source."

It was at this point when I took my Cooking Light recipes "under cover." I was bound and determined to prove my right-ness: food could be both good and "light." I would cook up something amazing and delicious from my Secret Source and then sit expectantly awaiting his words of praise. Sometimes if the gushing was not immediate (ok, it rarely was), I would slyly guide the conversation in my detective-like fashion until he professed his love for the meal. Only then would I stab him with the truth: "Ha! It was a Cooking Light recipe!" His face would fall in utter dismay and I would do a not-so-subtle victory dance, like every other humble wife I know. Foiled again!

Where am I going with all this? Well, I bet you can guess. This COOKING LIGHT fried chicken recipe has been a favorite of mine since 2002 when it was first published. Ya'll (I have to say that because for one, the fried chicken is a southern food and for two, I lived in Texas), the recipe dates back to my senior year in high school and it is a keeper for sure! (Who's making fried chicken in high school??!! Me, that's who). My husband could hardly believe it when I revealed to him the source. I adapted the recipe and left the skin on the meat which I know makes it less healthy but it's fried chicken for goodness sake and it must be delicious. The chicken pieces are then breaded in a seasoned flour mixture and then baked at high temperatures in the oven. This results in an end product that is both very good and also not so heavy that you never want to eat ever again.

Read the recipe closely. The chicken-coating process can get messy. I recommend making two bags of seasoned flour to coat the chicken, because inevitably, you will run out of coating right at that critical moment when your hands are covered in sticky chicken goo. Save yourself the trouble and have a second bag at the ready. You may have extra in the end but you'll be glad not to have to stop and make more mid-process.

Without further adieu, wife-tested, husband approved:  

Oven-Fried Chicken
(Adapted from Cooking Light Magazine)

1 1/2 cups low-fat buttermilk
8 chicken drumsticks (about 2 pounds)
4 chicken thighs (about 1 pound)
1 cup all-purpose flour, divided
1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper, divided
1/2 teaspoon white pepper, divided
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin, divided
Cooking spray

In a gallon-sized zip lock bag, combine buttermilk and chicken; seal. Marinate in refrigerator 1 hour, turning occasionally.

Preheat oven to 450°. Line baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray.

In an additional 2 gallon-sized zip lock bags, combine half of the flour, salt, peppers, and cumin (each bag should contain ½ cup flour, ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ tsp each of ground red pepper, white pepper and cumin). Remove chicken from first bag, discarding marinade. Add chicken, one piece at a time, to one of the bags of flour mixture, shaking bag to coat chicken. Remove chicken from bag, shaking off excess flour; lightly coat each chicken piece with cooking spray. Return chicken, one piece at a time, to flour mixture, transitioning to second bag of flour when the first is too moist to coat the chicken (this will happen due to residual buttermilk on the chicken pieces). Shake bag to coat chicken. Remove chicken from bag, shaking off excess flour.

Place chicken on the prepared baking sheet and lightly coat with cooking spray. Bake at 450° for 20 minutes. Turn chicken pieces and then return to oven for an addition 15 minutes or until done. 

Serves 6

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posted by kelsie