or, The Most-Requested Meal
When I was young, maybe 5 or 6 years old, a new restaurant came to our town. It was called “Kentucky Fried Chicken”. Resplendent with the “Colonel’s 11 Herbs and Spices” and now available in takeout form, my parents decided one day we should give it a try.
It came with mashed potatoes, cole slaw and lovely butter-drenched biscuits. In those days, it even came with honey, instead of “honey sauce” which is what accompanies it today. It was unimaginably delicious. And, I haven’t had it in years, for a multitude of reasons, all of which I could list here, but would take more paragraphs than anyone is willing to read.
Suffice it to say, I have long been searching for a healthier substitute, one that maybe wouldn’t be an exact match for the Colonel, but would be as satisfying from a flavor and texture perspective.
When I was a teenager, I would sometimes cook for the family. (There were 8 of us). I found a recipe in my mom’s Betty Crocker Cookbook for “Oven-Fried Chicken”. This involved exactly 3 herbs and spices, IF you count salt and pepper. Hmm, could this be the answer?
I’ve been “tweaking” Betty’s recipe for years, (It now does not resemble the original in any way) and admit that I’ve never done it the same way twice, but I want to share this version, which will give a full, flavorful and crispy crust, and preserve the juiciness of the chicken. The buttermilk marinade for me was a breakthrough in keeping the meat moist, tender, and juicy. It flavors the meat with its tangy taste, too, if you marinate overnight. You can use some or all of the spices listed for the flour dredge. You could even add or substitute. Feel free, this recipe has very few hard and fast rules.
Years ago, after making this chicken several weeks in a row, my kids asked me if I was serving them Kentucky Fried Chicken. I told them no, it was not fried, but oven-roasted. This is when they named it “Kentucky Chicken”. It was not long before I had requests for “Kentucky Chicken”.
I still often make this for a weeknight dinner, but for this past Sunday, I served it with Michael Symon’s Brussels Sprouts with Anchovies and Capers, which were astoundingly good, and bread from the bakery. A keeper for sure. It would also be good with mashed potatoes, but for me, it isn’t mashed potato season.?
Next time you are craving the fried chicken from your childhood, but would like a healthier version, give my Kentucky Chicken a try! Enjoy!
For the marinade:
1 qt. buttermilk
1 t garlic powder
1 t onion powder
2 healthy squirts Sriracha
1 5-lb chicken cut into parts, or cut-up chicken
1 c AP flour
1/2 c corn meal
1 T salt
1 1/2 t ground pepper
1 T baking powder
1 t sage
1 t dill
1/2 t ground ginger
1 t dry mustard
2 t cumin
1 t turmeric
1 t paprika
1 t dried thyme ( I used 3 t fresh)
For the pan:
1/4 c butter
Mix together the buttermilk, onion powder, garlic powder, and Sriracha.
Place chicken pieces in a gallon-sized plastic bag with zip closure. Pour marinade over, and seal bag. Place in refrigerator 4 hours before cooking, or, preferably, overnight.
When ready to cook, remove chicken from refrigerator. Pour contents of bag into a colander to drain excess buttermilk.
Prepare the flour mixture for dredging. Mix together all ingredients listed under “For the Dredge”. Coat each chicken piece and place on wire rack for 10-15 minutes before baking. This helps crisp the crust. Preheat oven to 400F.
Melt the butter. Pour into large baking pan with a rim. Place chicken pieces skin-side down on baking sheet. Roast for 25 minutes, then turn pieces, being careful not to tear the skin. Roast additional 20 minutes until dark golden brown. It is best to “rest” the chicken 10 minutes prior to serving. Test a large piece to ensure it is cooked through and no pink remains. Serve and Enjoy!