Tuesday, February 3, 2009

winner, winner chicken dinner - oven fried chicken

[Note to self: Oven at 400 and use those glass baking dishes.]

My father-in-law mentioned something about a fried chicken his mother used to make in a dutch oven with just a little bit of oil or maybe a bit of butter when he was a kid. For picnics at the beach to feed her 5 kids. He says it's the best fried chicken he's ever had in his life. It sparked a memory about a recipe I had at home that I never tried out.

I've had this recipe for oven "fried" chicken for over 5 years. I heard about it on npr's All Things Considered and amazingly the recipe and story link are still on their site (you have to scroll down a bit towards the middle of the page).

I only just tried it out a few weeks ago and unfortunately it was a disaster. I guess I was thinking of what my father-in-law said and thought I needed a dutch oven. I don't have a dutch oven, but I do have a huge ovenproof skillet with an extra-heavy bottom that I sometimes use as a dutch oven. That's what I used last time when the chicken tasted good, but the mouth feel was all wrong and boy was it one ugly meal. Not surprisingly, this meal was not photographically documented.

I tried this recipe again tonight but somehow I ran out of real estate in the pan (something that hadn't occurred the previous go). So I pulled out my trusty glass baking dish and laid out half the chicken in it. The chicken is dredged in flour and cooked in the oven on two tablespoons of melted butter. After 45 minutes or so, the meat is golden brown and you flip it to brown the other side. The result is a crisp chicken, a little different from fried chicken but 100 times more heavenly if you ask me. I can't remember the last time I grunted my lip-smacking approval as many times as I did during dinner tonight. I couldn't help myself. I'd take a bite of chicken and just Oh my dear lord, this chicken is so good! I'd find myself murmuring.

I'll ditch my faux dutch oven and go straight for the baking dishes next time around. And the brining. Don't forget the brining. It's what makes the meat so freaking delicious, I believe.

I served this heavenly dish with roasted mashed sweet potatoes (I haven't gotten over it yet) and collared greens. When I was sketching out the menu yesterday I was far more ambitious thinking I would include cauliflower au gratin and fresh baked cornbread with this meal. Alas, I planned poorly and didn't have time. Next time, I suppose. Cause there will most certainly be a next (and next, and next and next) time.

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