Wine Advisor FoodLetter: Oven "fried" chicken

In This Issue
 Oven "fried" chicken Easy and delicious, golden brown and addictive without the frying.
 Correction What to do with last week's white wine.
 Last Week's FoodLetter and Archives Links to previous articles.
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Oven "fried" chicken

I love fried chicken, but I don't love the time, effort and large amount of oil needed to fry it in the traditional way. So I usually leave the cooking to others when I've got a hankering for this lovable delicacy, generally preferring down-home eateries to the fast-food Colonel, even if he is a local boy.

The other night, though, I was inspired to experiment with an oven-"fried" alternative, a surprisingly simple procedure that uses far less fat than the standard frying method. It's as simple as this: Toss chicken pieces in seasoned flour. Pop them into an oven-hot baking pan with a modest amount of sizzling melted butter, and bake them for 45 minutes or so, turning once. The results are surprisingly close to the real thing - especially the crisp, glassy skin - with a dramatic reduction in effort and only a fraction of the calorie-loaded fat.

It was such a success, and so easy, that I'm eager to try it again with variations. Dredging the pieces in crunchy Japanese panko crumbs ought to yield good results, for instance. Or maybe crushed corn flakes, an old Southern fried-chicken trick. A shake of cayenne in the flour, or bathe the chicken parts in Tabasco before dredging? Lots of possibilities here! If you try it, or a variation, please share the results, by E-mail or, better yet, posting to our Food Lovers' online forum linked below.

INGREDIENTS: (Serves two)

6 to 8 chicken thighs or mixed chicken parts
1/2 cup flour
Black pepper
2 tablespoons (30g) butter


1. Preheat oven to 425F (220C).

2. Spread the flour on a large plate and season it with paprika, salt and pepper to taste. Put the chicken pieces in the flour and turn and shake them until they're well covered. (If you like, you can put the flour and seasonings in a paper bag, then put the chicken in and toss until the poultry pieces are coated.)

3. Put the butter in a shallow roasting pan, 9-by-13 inches or large enough to hold the chicken pieces comfortably, and put it in the preheated oven for a few minutes until it melts and sizzles.

4. Put the chicken pieces into the hot butter, skin side down. Cook, uncovered, for at least a half-hour, shaking the pan on occasion to make sure the pieces don't stick. After 30 to 35 minutes, turn the pieces over so the skin side is up, return them to the oven and bake for another 15 or 20 minutes, until the chicken is very crisp and dark golden-brown.

5. Remove to paper towels to allow some of the excess fat to drain off, and serve.

MATCHING WINE: Fried chicken may not be a traditional dish for fancy wine - if nothing else, its finger-licking-good nature makes for greasy glasses. But it actually goes well with a wide range of red and white wines. We paired it with an earthy red from Southern France, Chateau Lauret 2001 Coteaux du Languedoc Pic Saint Loup.

Want a copy that's easy to use in the kitchen? You'll find a simple, plain-text version of these recipes, suitable for printing, online at

If you have questions, comments or ideas to share about this recipe or food and cookery in general, you're welcome to drop by our Food Lovers' Discussion Group, where I've posted this article as a new topic, "FoodLetter: Oven 'fried' chicken"

Click the REPLY button on the forum page to post a comment or response. (If your E-mail software broke this long link in half, take care to paste it all back into one line before you enter it in your Web browser.)

If you prefer to comment privately, feel free to send me E-mail at

Correction: Last week's recipe

A careless touch of the DELETE key left a small but significant gap in last week's recipe for roast garlic and lemon chicken: The 1/3 cup (80ml) dry white wine included in the ingredients list didn't turn up in the procedure.

In fact, the wine may be added by sprinkling it over the assembled ingredients just before the foil-wrapping and baking stage, or - as I did it - mixed into the ingredients along with the olive oil. The results will be the same either way.

Thanks to several of you who wrote to ask me about this. I'm assuming that more of you figured it out on your own. One of the keys to confident cooking is the generous application of common sense when something in a recipe doesn't look quite right.

Last Week's FoodLetter and Archives

Last week's Wine Advisor Foodletter: Roast garlic and lemon chicken (Jan. 6)

Wine Advisor Foodletter archive:

30 Second Wine Advisor archive:

Last Week's FoodLetter and Archives

Last week's Wine Advisor Foodletter: Prime rib for two (Dec. 30)

Wine Advisor Foodletter archive:

30 Second Wine Advisor archive:

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Thursday, Jan. 13, 2005
Copyright 2005 by Robin Garr. All rights reserved.

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