I just finished reading a really inspirational book called The Help by Kathryn Stockett. It’s about a group of women who take a big risk to make a big change in the Deep South of the 1960s. I would definitely recommend it if you’d like a book about a little American history mixed in with a story about friendships. Reading about that part of the country inspired me to try some Southern dishes…my way :). To me, nothing says Southern cooking quite as much as fried chicken. I found a really good recipe for a baked version of “fried” chicken from a cookbook called The Best Light Recipe from the editors of Cook’s Illustrated magazine. That cookbook is filled with so many remarkable recipes, so while you are at the library or bookstore, I would highly recommend picking it up, as well! We were amazed by how much it really tasted like deep-fried chicken…only it’s much much lighter. I made it even a tad healthier by using whole grain Melba toast instead of the original kind.
Baked “Fried” Chicken Breasts
1 5 oz box of whole grain Melba toast broken into 1-inch pieces.
2 tablespoons canola oil
3 large egg whites
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon dried thyme
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 bone-in skinless split chicken breasts (bone in is important…boneless chicken breasts make the dish too dry)
Salt and pepper
Canola oil cooking spray
Adjust your oven rack to the upper middle position, and preheat to 450. Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil, and place a wire rack on top.
Using kitchen shears, trim the rib section off of the breasts by following the line of fat from the narrow end of the breast up to the socket where the wing was attached.
Pulse the Melba toast in a food processor until it is coarse crumbs. Place in a shallow bowl and mix in the oil.
In another shallow dish, whisk the egg whites through the cayenne together.
Pat the chicken dry with paper towels, and season well with salt and pepper. Dip each breast into the egg mix and then the Melba mix, pressing to make sure it adheres. Then place each piece of chicken on the wire rack and spray the top with cooking spray.
Bake until the center of the thickest part of the chicken breast registers to 160 degrees. (About 40 minutes.)
I hope you will give it a try the next time you are craving good old Southern fried chicken!