Sunday, July 29, 2012

Retro Dining: Oven Fried Chicken

















When I was pretty much a kid playing house with a childhood sweetheart I spent three years living near an American military base just outside of Tokyo. Even then I understood the importance of eating fresh and local food although I wasn't able to articulate why. I refused to shop at the commissary on base (I referred to it as a commiscary with its old frozen foods shipped in years earlier from America), and instead perused the more expensive but interesting stores that lined our neighborhoods. I learned that eggs didn't have to be refrigerated, strawberries could grow the size of a zucchini, and in a pinch I could buy a barrel of beer from a vending machine.

My collection of cookbooks was meager but growing, and I always looked to my Betty Crocker's Dinner for Two Cookbook (revised edition 1985) for those really special nights. I cooked my way through that cookbook like a pre-Internet Julie and Julia. Each page gave detailed tips for creating the perfect meal for two: Steak Stroganoff with Parsleyed Boodles, Herbed Tomatoes, and Individual Brownie Alaska; Hot Tomato Bouillon, Seafood Salad Bowl, Cheese-Onion Twists, and Orange Slush; and Pot Roast with Carrots and Onions, Herbed Noodles, and Warm Caramel Pears. My favorite was Oven-Fried Chicken, Parsleyed New Potatoes, Asparagus Almondine, and Strawberry Shortcake.

The recipe is still pretty decent, although even back then I had the sense not to bake chicken breast for the recommended 45 minutes in a 425 degree oven. Pair this chicken with farmers market finds and lots of fresh herbs.

Oven-Fried Chicken Breasts (Adapted from Betty Crocker's Dinner for Two)
2 bone-in, skin-on Smart Chicken breasts
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon celery salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon dry mustard

Heat oven to 400 degrees. In oven, melt butter in large skillet.

Mix flour and seasonings in plastic or paper bag (or just in high-sided bowl) and toss chicken one piece at a time in flour mixture until well coated.

Place chicken skin side down in pan. Bake chicken for 10 minutes then reduce oven temp to 350 degrees, turn chicken, and bake for an additional 20 to 30 minutes or until internal temp of chicken reaches 160 to 165 degrees.

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