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Oven-Baked Lightly Breaded Chicken

Jim Leff Sep 26, 2010 01:57 PM

Many years ago, I went to a jazz gig of my mentor, Arnie Lawrence. Arnie was never real famous, but he had a cast of hangers on (I suppose I was one of them). On the break, Arnie invited me in the dressing room, because one of his fans had brought him some ridiculous (that's good) chicken.

It was a generously large baking dish wrapped in foil. When we folded back the aluminum, the aroma was amazing. It was breaded/baked chicken, moist (and there was a bit of residual sauce in the pan) but not waterlogged. I guess the analogy that comes to mind is "shake and bake", but it definitely wasn't that. It had been cooked by a guy who was at one time a known chef, but was retired and only cooked for Arnie's gigs. It was classy and soulful both. It was incredible, by far the best baked chicken I've ever had. The breading was perfectly seasoned, and the breading to sauce ratio was a beautiful thing...any more sauce, and the breading would have been gummy, any less breading and the textural intrigue would have been lost. The stuff seemed to float on air, like it was both wet/saturated AND fluffy. It was one of the seminal food moments of my youth.

I understand that the impulse of good home cooks would be to suggest several broad "ways you can do this". But that's not what I want. I want someone to read this, and go "Hey, you know, I know how to make something that TOTALLY fits this description....and here's the recipe!!"

Anyone....?

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  1. Jim Leff RE: Jim Leff Oct 9, 2010 05:04 PM

    Sigh....

    3 Replies
    1. re: Jim Leff
      pikawicca RE: Jim Leff Oct 9, 2010 05:55 PM

      When I am confronted by a situation such as you describe and I can't find what I'm looking for on the Internet, I get in the kitchen and experiment. Only you know what it looked/smelled/tasted like, so go experiment and try to duplicate it. This is what a true Hound would do.

      1. re: pikawicca
        Jim Leff RE: pikawicca Oct 9, 2010 08:40 PM

        Well, as a hound I've looked for it in restaurants. For decades!

        As for cooking, I don't have the skill. And I'm just not clear on what it actually was. This ambiguity is partially due to the passage of time and my callow youth, but, also, it was so magically, devilishly good that it defied analysis, let alone categorization. It was so transcendant that it was unique.

        So light and fluffy, I don't know how. Breading wasn't greasy, so not fried. Gravy proportion was an artistic gesture that to this day utterly baffles me. I can't compare it to anythig, though I realize it superficially evokes images of smothered fried chicken or shake and bake....

        1. re: Jim Leff
          mcf RE: Jim Leff Oct 10, 2010 11:27 AM

          " it was so magically, devilishly good that it defied analysis, let alone categorization. It was so transcendant that it was unique. "

          I have some similarly rapturous food memories from my youth, but most of them involved pot or hashish smoking. If you can't make the dish, that may help improve what you do eat ;-)

          I can't offer an ingredient list or recipe, but from your description of its moistness, I'd bet it had a good buttermilk soak before coating, and if really lightly breaded, no egg dipping, just buttermilk before breading. Is it at all possible that some of the richness of the flavor was from nut meal? Can you describe/recall any specific herbal or other seasonings?

          I'd find a coating mix or recipe you like the sound of, soak chicken in buttermilk, coat and bake at a high heat, like 400 (may need to adjust to prevent burning)

    2. j
      juli730 RE: Jim Leff Jan 6, 2011 01:06 PM

      This reminds me of CI's crunchy baked pork chops ,which are delicious. I have often wondered if substituting chicken would produce an equally delicious dish.......recipes.

      cooksillustrated.com/.../pork/crunchy-baked-pork-chops-recipe

      2 Replies
      1. re: juli730
        Jim Leff RE: juli730 Jan 8, 2011 08:28 AM

        Looks good, thanks for posting! I'll try it! BTW, that link got truncated. The recipe's reprinted, with helpful notes and reader comments here: http://bakingbites.com/2009/09/crunch...

        But, fwiw, mine was sauced...just enough to moisten.

        1. re: Jim Leff
          d
          dynastar RE: Jim Leff Jan 8, 2011 09:12 AM

          I use this recipe for both chicken & fish all of the time. In fact, I have a couple leftover chicken cutlets sitting in the fridge right now. Comes out flavorful & juicy everytime.

          The batter/ bread crumbs work great on fish. Just mix mayo into the egg batter. You can also play around with the breading ingredients and add herbs & spices that match what you are making. For example I use this as a base to make chicken cordon-blue. I change up the herbs a bit, then top the breaded chicken with a bit of ham/ prosciutto and cheese then bake.

      2. chef chicklet RE: Jim Leff Jan 8, 2011 08:50 AM

        How do you get crunchy baked chicken if its covered in foil? Maryland fried chicken a dish my mother made, was dredged in seasoned flour, briefly fried, then she probably added some water to the stainless steel casserole dish, which created a delicious sauce. The chicken was tender, juicy and flavored perfectly, but crunchy, no.

        3 Replies
        1. re: chef chicklet
          greygarious RE: chef chicklet Jan 8, 2011 09:43 AM

          Delivered to a dressing room covered in foil does not mean it was baked covered. I suspect it was well-fried or oven-baked chicken for which what the OP calls "sauce" was just juices that had seeped from the meat after cooking.

          1. re: greygarious
            chef chicklet RE: greygarious Jan 8, 2011 06:22 PM

            true, I also noticed he didn't say crunchy but the referral to shake and bake is why I replied that way. Shake and bake when used on chicken and pork gives both a nice and crunchy coating and the instructions read not to cover the dish. It's funny his posting comes soon after I had just made this type of dish a couple of nights ago and was thinking about all the same things he mentions. I had a real problem because I added broth to the bottom of the dish which also had a layer of thinly sliced potatoes (I used the extra coating on them) and I so wanted to cover it all with foil - but didn't. The potatoes worked fine keeping the chicken above the sauce, and they absorbed the broth and so they weren't crunchy at all. I didn't use a whole chicken as the op experienced which is far more juicy and moist than the skinless boneless breasts I used. I really enjoy a crunchy coating on chicken with a nice sauce, and it would be terrific to achieve it in one dish!

            1. re: greygarious
              s
              smilingal RE: greygarious Jan 8, 2011 08:03 PM

              yes - I am thinking the "sauce" might have been created from condensation of being covered after baking or frying during the time of transport.

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