Oven “Fried” Cornmeal Crusted Chicken
By Chef John Ash
This cooking technique gives the chicken the crisp, crunchy crust we all love with a minimum of fat. This chicken recipe is superb for a springtime picnic and paired with Sonoma-Cutrer’s Russian River Ranches Chardonnay.
Difficulty Level Medium
3/4 Cup buttermilk
1/4 Cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 Cup olive oil
2 tablespoons finely minced shallots
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme or rosemary leaves (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon pure New Mexico or California chile powder
1 3 pound chicken, cut into 8 serving pieces
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup Panko or other dry breadcrumbs
2/3 cup freshly grated parmesan or dry jack cheese
3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley or basil
2 eggs beaten with 2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons unsalted melted butter
In a medium bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, lemon juice, 1 teaspoon of the lemon zest, the olive oil, shallots, thyme, 2 teaspoons of the salt, and 2 teaspoons of the chile powder. Add the chicken, turning the pieces to coat them. Marinate refrigerated for at least 4 hours.
In a separate bowl combine the cornmeal, breadcrumbs, Parmesan, parsley, and the remaining lemon zest, salt, and chile powder. Remove the chicken from the marinade and drain briefly. Dip the pieces in the egg mixture and then dredge in the cornmeal mixture, patting to coat evenly. The chicken can be prepared up to this point 3 hours in advance and kept uncovered in the refrigerator.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. On a lightly oiled baking pan, arrange the chicken skin side up. Drizzle with the butter. Bake for 35 – 40 minutes or until crisp, golden and cooked through. Breasts will be done a bit ahead of the legs. Remove to paper towels to absorb any excess fat. Serve warm or at room temperature.