Monday, April 19, 2010

Pre-post Dallas Entry: Oven Fried Chicken &Oven Roasted Broccoli

Have you ever had the feeling you were just holding on to your sanity by a little thread-bare string? That's what this month has felt like. I don't know about y'all, fellow bloggers, but I have spent the past few weeks apparently playing the April Fool. Hubby and my latest folly? Attempting to buy a house. Talk about running your head into a wall. Repeatedly.

House hunting has been an adventure in many, many things, not the least of which is the wide range in size and quality of kitchen and dining areas. Slightly moldy one-person dining nooks with broken cabinetry all the way to full family-sized kitchens with brand spanking new stainless steel appliances.

While I've been accused in the past of being bourgy (not without merit), I'll happily take a kitchen that falls somewhere in the middle. Tony just wants something with a dishwasher.

In either case, we'll both take something that can handle one of my more regularly rotated recipes: Oven Fried Chicken (served with Oven Roasted Broccoli).

I heart fried chicken, but it's a pain in the rear to make (and Lord knows I can do without the calories), so this much lightened version does great in a pinch. And, it's easy to tweak: You like spice? Add some hot sauce to the liquid mix. Forget to check and make sure that you have enough Melba toast for coating? Substitute a healthy dose of corn meal. The broccoli, which all but cooks itself after the chicken finishes, provides a toasty, slightly sweet accompaniment.

I'll post photos of some of my adventures in Dallas later (which include Southern fried chicken), as I am still technically on the road for work. I'll also be posting about my first little give away. Can you stand the excitement??

Time to return to the grind. Happy baking! Oh, and feel free to send along any tips/suggestions for getting back to my zen. Or, you know, to just get to a point where I stop gnawing off my nails.
Oven Fried Chicken
(Courtesy of Cook's Illustrated Best Light Recipes)

If you prefer to use boneless, skinless chicken breasts instead of the bone-in variety, simply reduce the cooking time to 25 minutes.

1 box plain Melba toast (about 5 ounces), broken into 1-inch pieces

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

3 large egg whites

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves

¼ teaspoon garlic powder

⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper

4 split bone-in chicken breasts (about 10 ounces each), trimmed and skin removed

Vegetable cooking spray

  1. Adjust an oven rack to the upper-middle position and heat the oven to 450 degrees. Cover a baking sheet with foil and place a wire rack on top. Process the Melba toast into coarse crumbs in a food processor, about twelve 1-second pulses. Spread the crumbs in a shallow dish and toss with the oil.

  2. In a separate shallow dish, whisk the egg whites, mustard, thyme, garlic powder, and cayenne together.

  3. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels, then season with salt and pepper. Working with one piece of chicken at time, dip it into the egg white mixture, then coat with the Melba crumbs. Press on the Melba crumbs to make sure they adhere to the chicken. Lay the chicken on the wire rack and spray the tops with vegetable oil spray.

  4. Bake until the coating is golden, the chicken is no longer pink in the center, and the thickest part registers 160 degrees on an instant read thermometer, about 40 minutes. Serve immediately.

NOTE: Coating the Chicken

To make Melba toast crumbs, place the toasts in a heavy-duty plastic freezer bag, seal, and pound with a meat pounder or other heavy blunt object. Leave some crumbs the size of pebbles in the mixture.

Oven Roasted Broccoli For 2
(From January 2008 issue of Cook's Illustrated)

1 lb broccoli (1/2 large bunch

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

¼ tsp table salt

¼ tsp sugar

Ground black pepper

Lemon wedges for serving
  1. Adjust oven rack to lowest position, place large rimmed baking sheet on rack, and heat oven to 500 degrees. Cut broccoli at juncture of florets and stems; remove outer peel from stalk. Cut stalk into 2- to 3-inch lengths and each length into 1/2-inch-thick pieces. Cut crowns into 4 wedges if 3-4 inches in diameter or 6 wedges if 4-5 inches in diameter. Place broccoli in large bowl; drizzle with oil and toss well until evenly coated. Sprinkle with salt, sugar, and pepper to taste and toss to combine.
  2. Working quickly, remove baking sheet from oven. Carefully transfer broccoli to baking sheet and spread into even layer, placing flat sides down. Return baking sheet to oven and roast until stalks are well browned and tender and florets are lightly browned, 9 to 11 minutes. Transfer to serving dish and serve immediately with lemon wedges.


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