If you grew up in the South that you grew up with Fried Chicken as a staple in your childhood diet. You probably grew up making it or it was a rite of passage with Grandma’s ‘secret’ recipe being shared after you were a lawfully wedded women and welcomed into the female fold of adulthood. Over the years I’ve learned all kinds of secrets from some of the most southern of Southern belles, and I’ve eaten some toe curling-ly good crispy chicken over the years. Tips ranged from smashed corn flakes or mashed potato flakes for breading to lard or Crisco for frying in. Much to my mothers’ chagrin I’ve broken a bit with tradition and have put my own spin on one of the most infamous of chicken dinner recipes. Fake out your friends, your family, even your taste buds with our crispy oven fried chicken.
This day and age, I have literally seen friends cringe when I bring up Grandma’s chicken lovingly fried in Crisco. It may not be pc and eating it with any regularity probably would set you on the path to a heat attack, but good god almighty was it good. It would fall off the bone and melt in your mouth good. It was a little piece of Heaven in every bite, and I remain unrepentant. Yes, you hear a ‘but’ coming. I do realize I can’t eat my fried chicken like that all the time, at least not if I want to ensure I’m around long enough to pass the family secrets down to my own daughters’-in-law one day, so I made some changes. And I didn’t sacrifice an iota of crunch or a smidge of flavor.
This chicken is ‘fried’ in the oven. It’s crispy. It’s crunchy. It’s perfectly seasoned. It’s still moist and tender under that cracklin’ coating. Who ‘doesn’t want better for you’ fried chicken? Pair this chicken with some coleslaw for a perfect picnic dinner at your kitchen table.
For a full meal, serve this with one (or more) of the following: Sauteed Garlic Teriyak Green Beans, Sweet Corn and Cheddar Cheese Fritters, Zucchini Fritters with Chili Lime Mayo, Esquites (Mexican Corn Salad), Skinny Buffalo Potato Salad, or Chessy Potato Gratin and a green side salad.
- 3 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs, excess fat trimmed
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- salt & pepper, to taste
- 2 large eggs
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1 tbsp hot sauce, or to taste
- 1 1/2 cups Panko bread crumbs
- 3 tsp Cajun seasoning
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/4 cup peanut oil
- On a plate of in a small bowl whisk together the flour, salt and pepper. In a separate small bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, hot sauce, salt and pepper until evenly combined. In another small bowl, stir together the bread crumbs, Cajun seasoning, paprika, oil, salt and pepper just until all are equally incorporated.
- Working with one piece of chicken at a time, dredge the chicken in the flour to coat, shake off any excess and then dip it into the egg mixture, again shake off any excess and then sit it in the bread crumb mixture, turning and pressing to coat it evenly on all sides.
- Place the coated chicken onto a lined baking sheet and bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes, or until the bread crumb coating is nicely browned and the meat's cooked through.
- Serve immediately with coleslaw and one or more of the other suggested sides.
- Sometimes it may seem like a lot of fat on a chicken thigh, and if you're like me you want to remove as much as possible. Using a knife to do so will cost you a lot of the meat too. Use a good pair of sharp kitchen sheers to easily cut away almost all excess fat quickly and easily without losing any meat. Just watch your fingers!