You know I like my chicken fried. Or so I thought.

After working through a variety of recipes for fried chicken from Paula Deen to Thomas Keller to Americas Test Kitchen, I came to the conclusion - I'm not actually looking for fried chicken at all. I'm looking for baked chicken that's crunchy, full of flavor and tastes like it has been fried, but it's baked. So here is the final result, tested for you and approved by all, including men and children.

Crunchy Fried (Baked) Chicken by FoodaLuna

2 cups buttermilk
1/4 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon Louisiana style hot sauce
1/2 yellow onion, sliced
1/2 pkg dry Ranch mix
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Chicken - 3#, boneless, skinless breasts and/or thighs, rinsed and patted dry

2 cups plain panko bread crumbs, toasted
1/2 pkg dry Ranch mix
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 teaspoons paprika
1/2 teaspoon each - garlic, onion powder
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Fit a sheet tray with a wire rack and spray with nonstick cooking spray. The sheet tray/rack combo is critical for crunch.

Mix together buttermilk, sour cream, hot sauce, onion, ranch mix, salt and pepper in a glass baking dish. Add chicken and coat with wet mixture. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for 3 hours, up to 12 hours.

Mix panko, ranch mix and spices together in a large pie plate. Season with salt and pepper. Remove chicken from the buttermilk and let the excess drip off.  Dredge through the panko breading, pressing to help it adhere. Spray the top with cooking spray.

Place on the wire rack-fitted sheet tray and bake for 40-50 minutes until golden brown and crunchy (internal temp is 165 degrees or juices run clear).


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