Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Crispy & Smoky Oven Fried Chicken

This recipe was asked for by my mother who is southern and loves traditional southern fried chicken. The kind that you do in a cast iron pan and then lay to dry on old brown paper bags to let the grease drain off, I remember as a child thinking this was so strange. She would always ask for paper bags at the grocery store so that we had them for this very purpose. She wanted a more modern version, that was healthier and easy to make on a weeknight. I, myself, do not like to deep fry things, and its not just because of the "fat" issue. I think that deep frying is incredibly dangerous, I have a two year old and it just scares me to death to heat up that much oil. The other issue I have is the wastefulness of it, you have to use so much oil and its expensive to buy heart healthy oils in that quantity. Then have to throw them out right after using, its messy and just unnecessary. I find that baking things properly can give you the same crunch and satisfaction without all the hassle. This fried chicken has a combination of flavors; its smoky and a little bit sweet with just a touch of heat. I finished it at the end, hot out of the oven with some smoked guava sea salt that mirrored the sweet and savory element, it was amazing!

Two things are essential for that "crunch factor" when oven frying chicken; one, the type of breading that you use and two, the pan.

Lets talk about the breading first. I like to use homemade bread crumbs because you can make them as big or as small as you want and you can season them to your liking. I make them a very coarse grind so that they are like panko and it ensures a crispy crust on the chicken. Get my recipe for homemade breadcrumbs here. Bread crumbs are not the only breading I use, I like to use a flour dredge method because its an insurance policy for breading that stays on. The flour dredge allows the egg to stick properly, and keeps your outside, crispy area, from just falling off. I used a mixture of all purpose flour and cornmeal. The cornmeal gives another crispy element and adds a nice nutty flavor that I really enjoy. Make sure you season all layers of your breading, or it will be lackluster in flavor. I liberally salt and pepper the bread crumbs, flour and egg wash, I even taste the flour to ensure that its properly seasoned.

Now lets talk about your pan set up. You will need a wire rack over a baking sheet to achieve optimal crunchiness, if you don't have a rack you can also use a broiler pan that has the top, slotted piece. What you are looking for is airflow, it needs to happen all the way around the chicken during cooking or you will end up with one soggy side; the side laying on the pan. The broiler pan doesn't really work all the great, but is better than nothing. I prefer to use a rack and they are very inexpensive. Here is a link to one, if you aren't sure what I am talking about: For the price of oil for frying you can buy a baking rack and it can be used indefinitely, win/win!

This recipe makes 8 drumsticks, you can make any combination of thighs, legs or breasts I just happen to love the legs.


8 pasture raised chicken legs, skin on.
2 Cups homemade bread crumbs, click on the link to get my recipe for them. Panko can be substituted.
1/3 Cup Unbleached, organic, all purpose flour
1/3 Cup organic yellow cornmeal
3 tsp Sea salt
2 Tbsp fresh ground black pepper
1 Tbsp organic garlic powder
1 Tbsp organic onion powder
1 Tbsp smoked paprika
1 tsp cayenne pepper
3 Farm raised, whole eggs
1/4 Cup pasture raised buttermilk
1 Tbsp dijon mustard
1 Tbsp dark maple syrup
2 Tbsp pasture raised butter, melted.
Smoked finishing salt, mine was smoked guava so it was sweet and salty.
Fresh organic chives, optional.


Preheat your oven to 450 degrees F.

Place your wire rack over a baking sheet and set aside. Take out 3 shallow bowls. In one bowl combine the flour, cornmeal, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, cayenne, some of the salt and some of the pepper, whisk to combine thoroughly. In another bowl combine the eggs, buttermilk, mustard, maple syrup, more salt and more pepper. Whisk to combine. In the last bowl place the bread crumbs, last of the salt and pepper and mix to combine, if you are using plain panko you might want to add in some herbs to mimic the flavor of my homemade ones, I used oregano, basil, thyme and garlic, all dried.

Using one hand for wet, and one hand for dry dredge your chicken, first in the flour mixture coating evenly, next dip it in the egg mixture and then roll firmly in the bread crumbs, pressing down so that they stick. Carefully place them on your rack over the baking sheet to dry a bit, this also allows the breading to stick nicely. Repeat for all the chicken. Throw away anything you have leftover, flour, eggs and bread crumbs.

With a pastry brush, gently brush half of the melted butter onto each of the chicken legs, letting it run down over the whole chicken slowly so that it doesn't get too much on the baking sheet. If you do it slowly the bread crumbs will soak it right up.

Place in the preheated oven for 20 minutes, turn over the chicken, brush with the other half of the butter and cook for another 20-25 minutes on the last side. The chicken is done when its deep, golden brown and the juices run clear. I like to cut it to the bone just to be sure. Remove from the oven to a serving platter. Sprinkle immediately with some smoked finishing salt and chives so that they stick. Enjoy!!

ps. this chicken is wonderful with my garbanzo cowboy beans!

Let me know what you think, leave some love below! :)


  1. OK, now I want fried chicken for breakfast

    1. That is totally acceptable! I would most certainly (and did on my honeymoon) eat fried chicken for breakfast! :)

  2. This will be made in my kitchen....Sounds delicious! Thanks.

    1. Thank you for stopping by and I hope that you love it! My whole family loved them :)