Monday, April 4, 2011

Baked "Fried" Chicken

Here's a strange recipe I tried recently: Baked "fried" chicken. I've been wanting some fried chicken lately, but since I rent a room I only have so much refrigerator and pantry space, so there's not enough room for a tub of lard for frying grease. I remembered reading a recipe titled the same way as this post, only I didn't read the recipe, so I just made up the steps as I went along.

Essentially, you just make fried chicken as you ordinarily would, what with the flour and seasonings (coconut flour is my choice), only you put the chicken in the oven instead of a hot pan of grease. I baked mine for approximately 45 minutes atop a cooling rack perched on a baking sheet.

It came out near perfect, though not quite. The meat was perfectly cooked and the flour retained its delicate sweetness, but some of the pieces still had that "powdery" look to them as if the flour hadn't cooked at all. I was depending on the chicken fat to moisturize the flour and cause the Maillard reaction, but the results were overall mixed. Some pieces came out golden and gorgeous; others looked as if they were just freshly floured. Thankfully this only seems to be an aesthetic problem, as when I ate some of the powdery pieces they didn't come off as dry, dusty, or gritty in the least, so I just need to find a way to make this recipe look better. At first glance, I think that next time I'll flip all the pieces over and rotate the pan halfway throughout the cooking, and perhaps it might be beneficial to actually take the chicken out and take a spray bottle of fat to the surface (don't do it while it's in the oven, otherwise the fat could ignite).

Flavor-wise it's not much different than actually fried chicken, but I'm attracted to this method due to it lesser prep and cleanup (no grease), and reduction in expense since no lard needs to be bought. You get the same pleasure with a lesser hassle, though an increased cooking time. Unless I can identify actual benefits or differences that comes with pan frying other than cooking time I think I just may do "fried" chicken this way from now on.

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