If only one day, I met the «calorie-and-saturated-fat-eating-fairy», who would tell me «you can eat whatever dish you want and I will eat away all the fatty stuff». With the risk of offending all chocoholics out there, I would choose fried chicken. I think only vegetarians wouldn’t drool over the thought of crunchy pieces of spiced, juicy, fried chicken served in a basket with fresh, lemon wedges. But since I don’t believe in fairies (anymore) I decided to adapt my go-to fried chicken recipe, to a more figure/health conscious version.
Fried chicken recipes, suggest coating the chicken with either flour or breadcrumbs. My preferred method is first marinating the chicken in «kefir» (or buttermilk) and then thickly coating in flour. This gives you a thicker and crunchier coating. But, I was planning to bake my chicken, so I had to think which coating would become crunchier in the oven. I tried both methods, and breadcrumbs passed the test with flying colours.
Marinating the chicken in «kefir» first, kept the meat juicy and helped the breadcrumbs adhere to the chicken pieces without the use of butter or eggs. I must admit that I was pleasantly surprised by the result. The chicken was really crunchy and tasty, and it was the closest thing to real fried chicken. I will continue to desperately seek the existence of the «calorie-and-saturated-fat-eating-fairy», but until I find her (or not), this is my go-to NOT fried chicken recipe.
For marinating the chicken
- 1 chicken (about 1 ½ kg), cut in pieces, skin removed (or use 8-10 chicken thighs, with bone no skin)
- 2 cups «kefir» or buttermilk
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 3 Tbs Dijon mustard
- ½ tsp black pepper
- salt to taste
For coating and baking the chicken
- 2 cups fresh breadcrumbs (make your own in a blender, using a day old bread)
- 3 Tbs olive oil
- ½ tsp dried thyme
- ½ tsp paprika
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- ½ cup grated parmesan
Put chicken pieces in a bowl. Mix together the «kefir» with the remaining marinating ingredients. Pour over the chicken and marinate for at least two hours, preferably overnight.
When you are ready to bake, preheat oven to 200 C. Make sure you take the chicken out of the fridge one hour before baking. If you forgot, don’t sweat, you may need to increase the baking time.
In a bowl, mix together the breadcrumbs with the olive oil. Stir well with a spatula (or use your hands), to distribute the olive oil. Add the remaining ingredients to the breadcrumbs and mix. Take the chicken pieces out of the marinade, one by one, and coat with the breadcrumb mixture. Press well with your hands, to help the coating adhere to the chicken. Lay chicken pieces on a rack, over a baking tray. Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce temperature to 175 C and bake 30 minutes more, until chicken is cooked through. Serve with lemon wedges.