This is a recipe so we don't forget. A recipe to remind us of when we lived in San Francisco and we'd jaunt to Napa on a whim. We'd visit winemaker friends, hike the forests, eat well, and, of course, wine taste.
If there were one recipe to defines those times it'd be fried chicken. Not because we ate it all the time but because we loved to stop in at Ad Hoc to finish our day with a plate of their buttermilk fried chicken. Yes, their cookbook has the full recipe and it's worth making when you want proper fried chicken.
This recipe is not that. This recipe is one that I created for my cookbook Keys To The Kitchen and it's an easier take on fried chicken that you can pull together whether you're working from home or simply not feeling like dealing with deep frying. It is not trying to be the Ad Hoc recipe but is more like an impressionist painting in that it takes a lot of the major flavors of their recipe -- buttermilk, rosemary, garlic, cayenne -- and makes a more weeknight-friendly version.
Easier and healthier than classic fried chicken, this oven fried chicken is made with fresh rosemary, lemon, chile powder, crushed cornflakes, and buttermilk for a tender, juicy chicken with a crispy, flavorful crust.
The keys to this recipe are the one-two combo of the marinade, which not only adds flavor but helps to tenderize the meat, and the coating, which has cheese and cornflakes for a delicious sweet-salty combo. There are a few tips you want to make sure you abide by to make the most flavorful and crispiest oven fried chicken (see below) but aside form that it's a pretty easy, breezy no fuss way to make "fried" chicken.
Classic fried chicken (aka Southern Fried Chicken) needs no introduction. Anyone who loves crispy, crunchy food (ahem, all of us) and chicken, knows that well made fried chicken is a thing of beauty. Most often it's made by placing the chicken in a brine or marinade then coating it in breading and frying it. And sometimes even topped with a spiced coating as is the case with Nashville Style Hot Chicken. All in all frying chicken is a pretty simple technique once you get the hang of it, but it takes time, a lot of oil, can be messy, and isn't all that healthy for you.
Enter "oven fried" chicken, which has the flavor of fried chicken without the work. This is recipe is named "oven fried" but the reality is that it is breaded and baked chicken meaning there is no actual frying. The benefits of "oven fried"is that it's healthier and less messy. The drawback is that you can end up with chicken that's not as juicy and a breading that's not as crispy as the classic style of fried chicken.
Luckily, we've got tips for you to make your "oven fried" chicken so good you might just call it plain old "fried" chicken!
This recipe is pretty great as is but you could mix it up based on your preference or just what you have in your pantry. Feel free to swap out the rosemary for another herb like sage, thyme, oregano, or even cilantro. If spice is your thing, add hot sauce to the marinade or make this hot honey and drizzle it over the top just before serving. And, if you don't have cornflakes, regular or Panko breadcrumbs would work great too!
or avocado or olive oil, divided
or smoked paprika or chile powder, divided
(about 3 pounds)
(about 2 ounces)
Marinate The Chicken: Combine the 1 cup yogurt or buttermilk, 1/4 cup of the oil, all the lemon juice, all the rosemary, the 4 crushed garlic cloves, 1/2 teaspoon of the cayenne, and 1 1/2 teaspoons of the salt in a large nonreactive baking dish or bowl and whisk until evenly combined. Add chicken, turn to coat, cover, and refrigerate at least 2 hours and up to 12 hours.
Heat The Oven: When ready to cook, heat oven to 425°F and arrange rack in upper third. Nest a cooling rack inside a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet; set aside.
Make The Cornflake Coating: Combine the 1 1/2 cups of cornmeal, the 3/4 cup crushed cornflakes, the 1/2 cup finely grated cheese, all the lemon zest, the remaining 1/4 cup of oil, the remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt, the pepper, and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne in a shallow bowl, mix until well combined; set aside. Whisk together eggs in a second shallow bowl until evenly combined; set aside.
To crush up the cornflakes, place them in a resealable plastic bag, close it, then use a rolling pin to "roll" and crush the cornflakes -- you want them mostly broken up but it's fine if they aren't all the same size.
Coat The Chicken: To coat chicken, remove it from marinade and let excess drip off. Dip chicken in egg mixture then let excess egg drip off. Place chicken in the cornflake mixture and press down to help the mixture adhere; flip and repeat to coat the chicken all over.
Bake The Chicken: Place the chicken piece on baking sheet and repeat with remaining chicken. Let chicken rest on rack for 15 minutes before baking.
Bake until coating is golden and crispy, juices of chicken run clear when poked, and internal temperature is 160°F, about 35 to 45 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.
You can coat the chicken then return it to the fridge and let it sit for up to 1 hour before cooking it off. Just let it sit at room temperature for at least 15 minutes before baking so it cooks more evenly.
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