Oven-Fried Chicken Thighs

I am not going to make yet another apology for being ridiculously tardy with my postings, so I will just jump to the recipe at hand!

Do you like fried chicken? Me neither! It’s not that it’s not yummy or satisfying. It sure is! The reason I don’t like it is because it is so damn bad for you…like looking at it on your plate makes you want to grab your chest like you can somehow feel the arteries getting clogged! Real fried chicken is definitely full of fat and calories – store-bought/ commercially prepared chunks likely brim with thousands of calories and more than a few days worth of saturated fat. So, yes, I don’t like them. I never order these from restaurants, but on a rare occasion, I do fantasize about biting into one with no regrets!

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Hence, this attempt at making an oven-fried version, which will not make it to any healthy dish list, but at least satisfies one’s annual craving for fried chicken without a whole lot of guilt. I wanted to emphasize a few words in the previous sentence as this chicken is still an indulgence in my opinion. Although I carefully trimmed out most of the excess fat and good portion of the skin, there is still some of that bad stuff on the chicken. In addition, even though I skipped the deep frying, there is still some oil drizzled on the chicken before baking. So, all in all, please do indulge and enjoy this dish, but try with all your might to only make it on a rare occasion or two.

With that out of the way, this chicken is truly delicious. Marinating the meat in seasoned buttermilk (in my case, 1% milk soured with a bit of white vinegar) for 24 hours goes a long way in making sure the chicken tastes well seasoned and comes out juicy and delicious. Seasoning the flour mixture adds another layer of seasoning that makes the exterior of the chicken delectable as well. I debated going with just all-purpose flour, but then opted for a “house blend” of all-purpose, cornmeal, rice flour and cornstarch. In case you are wondering how I came up with this blend, honestly, 100% on a whim. I figured rice flour and cornstarch tend to make things crispy,cornmeal adds bit of a textural element and all-purpose flour, well, it’s “all-purpose”. I think this is a keeper! After all the waiting around with the marinating and long baking time, this recipe proved to be a winner. And the chicken tastes great even the next day!


Oven-Fried Chicken Thighs

8 chicken thighs, excess fat and skin trimmed carefully; deeply score the skin side
1 cup buttermilk (or sour milk made with a cup of milk and 1 tablespoon vinegar)
1 teaspoon salt
Cayenne powder to taste (I used about 3/4 teaspoon)
few grinds of freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon each, onion powder and garlic powder
Flour mixture
1/4 cup each all-purpose flour, rice flour, cornmeal and cornflour
Cayenne powder to taste (I used about 1/2 teaspoon extra hot)
1/2 teaspoon salt
Generous sprinkle of freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
2 tablespoons canola oil
cooking spray

1. Blend all marinade ingredients. Pour over chicken thighs arranged in a baking dish, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or up to 24 hours.
2. Preheat oven to 425F.
3. In a medium bowl, combine the flours with ingredients through parsley leaves.
4. Remove chicken pieces from the marinade. Blot dry (I skipped this step because I was in a mad dash to the next step for no real good reason).
5. Toss the chicken pieces one at a time in the flour mixture until well coated. I even made sure some of the flour mixture got in between the slits on the skin side.
6. Arrange the coated chicken pieces on a baking tray lined with aluminum foil, skin side up.
7. Cover the chicken pieces with a good coating of cooking spray. Drizzle the oil evenly over all the chicken pieces.
8. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes till juices run clear and the chicken is cooked through.
9. Serve with sides of your choice (Tip: a good serving of vegetable should at least take some of the guilt off!) Enjoy!


Oven-“Fried” Asian Orange Chicken


It started with sweet and sour chicken – “it” as in my kids’ introduction to Chinese food! Few years have passed since then and now their all-time favorite dish to order at a Chinese restaurant is orange chicken – crispy fried morsels of bite size chicken pieces that are lightly coated in an orange and soy infused glaze. If you are lucky to have had the opportunity to bite into one of these perfectly prepared chicken pieces, you can easily see why this dish is so popular with kids and adults alike.


Having said that, not all orange chicken dishes are created equal. Actually not even close! I have had many an encounter with tiny crumbs of chicken clinging to their dear reputation in mounds of soggy breading/batter. There have been instances of good balance between meat and batter, but the meat could have seen better days. And there have been instances when both meat and batter were just right, except for the overload of barely wet dried orange rinds with overly sweet concoction of what is supposed to be a delicious orange sauce.


Hmph! So, having had one of those episodes recently, I figured why not make a version at home that will hopefully not only taste better, but better for you as well. Chicken breast, oven “fried” rather than deep fried, just a touch of brown sugar rather than corn syrup or other concoctions??!! Yep, you got it!

So, armed with all-white chicken meat, fresh oranges (for both the zest and the juice) and panko bread crumbs, I braved myself to trust my senses of taste and smell and recreate a dish that is enjoyed by my family, especially my kids.

20140506_191229  This dish surpassed all my expectations, especially when it came to the texture of the cooked chicken and the perfectly balanced sweet-sour-spicy nature of the sauce/glaze. Panko coating left the chicken pieces crispy and held out quite strong even with the glaze on top. I deep fried a small batch of chicken coated in egg and cornstarch but my kids preferred the oven “fried” version with panko because of its texture and taste! I couldn’t be happier! 🙂

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So, here is a disclaimer…I have not traveled to the Hunan province of China to really know what this dish is supposed to taste like. So, this is purely based on my experience enjoying crispy battered chicken coated in a citrusy/orange soy glaze. 🙂 Enjoy at your own will!