I love fried chicken. The husband LOVES fried chicken. But I don’t like eating fried chicken.

I know, such a contradiction, isn’t it. The truth is, I just can’t stomach the idea that I am probably ingesting a whole lot of unhealthiness with store-bought fried chicken. And I loathe to make it at home because, urghs, oil splatters everywhere.

The way to have the best of both worlds – eating fried chicken that’s healthy (what an oxymoron) – is, I have discovered, to mimic fried chicken. No, none of those glutinous fake meats for me. Instead, what you have is “fried” chicken that is baked and not deep fried in a gallon of oil.

Oven "fried" chicken

I have made this a few times now, trying out different methods and different recipes, much to the husband’s delight. He’s pretty happy to have crunchy and crisp “fried” chicken while I tinker about with the recipes but always, I find myself going back to this one from Mark Bittman. It’s easy and I have everything in my pantry. The boys LOVE it – what’s there not to love? 😉

Oven “fried” chicken
Adapted from Mark Bittman’s recipe

Ingredients:

  • 5 large chicken drumsticks
  • 1 cup buttermilk (I mixed 1 tablespoon of vinegar with almost 1 cup milk to make this nifty substitution!)
  • 1.5 cups panko
  • 1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon paprika (optional)
  • A drizzle of olive oil

Method

  • Take your chicken out of the fridge about 30 minutes before cooking time. Preheat your oven to 205 degrees Celsius.
  • Mix the buttermilk, paprika, cayenne and salt in a large bowl. Add the chicken and let it soak for about 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Put the bread crumbs in a large, shallow plate or tray and mix the grated cheese in thoroughly.
  • Brush a baking sheet with oil and place it in a large baking dish.
  • Remove the chicken drumsticks from the bowl and place them, one at a time, into the plate of panko. Press the drums in so that the panko sticks to the chicken evenly on all sides.
  • Place the drumsticks onto the oiled baking sheet, leaving at least 2.5cm between pieces. Bake the chicken until the exterior is golden, about 30 to 40 minutes.

That’s it! What you get out of the oven is crispy delicious “fried” chicken without all the unhealthy stuff.

Oven "fried" chicken

I use five drumsticks to feed my family of four so you can adjust the amount according to your needs. Just remember to increase the panko accordingly. I also decreased the amount of salt (1.5 teaspoons in the original recipe) as this was served up to my three-year-old and one-year-old. Plus, the addition of the cheese helped to increase the flavour.

Oh, and if you don’t want panko all over your kitchen countertop, I placed the plate in my sink when I was rubbing it all over my chicken parts so that any crumbs can be washed off immediately. Just make sure that nothing touches the surface of the sink!

Everybody loves this dish – even my baby, who gobbles up the meat and then chews down the bone. It’s deliciously crisp and the meat is tender and moist. Definitely a keeper!

Oven "fried" chicken

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