Oven Fried Chicken

Here's the thing... I REALLY dislike frying any food. Oh, who am I kidding? I hate it. I really do. I have fried chicken just a handful of times - if that much. I just hate the mess it makes. Plus, I'm paranoid I won't get it cooked thru which results in overcooked, dry, usually burnt chicken. Nobody wants to eat that.

-- I should interject here that there is ONE exception to my no frying rule. You know where I'm going with this... BACON. Bacon always has been, always is, and always will be the exception. --

Now, my hubby likes him some fried chicken. So do my kids. Well, who doesn't, right? This Oven Fried Chicken recipe is a good compromise. I sure think it is anyway... maybe not my hubby. He'd rather have the real deal. But that's what marriage is all about, right? Compromise?

This is easy-peasy and it really does taste so good. Give it a try. I think you'll be impressed.

THE BEST OVEN FRIED CHICKEN

3-4 chicken breasts about 1lb, cut in strips (I use more like 7 or 8 breasts for our family)

4-5 tbsp melted butter - This is the secret. Do not be trying to use that fake margarine junk. Trust me here. B.U.T.T.E.R. 3/4 cup flour 1/2 cup breadcrumbs 1/2 tsp salt 1 tbsp seasoning salt 1/2 tsp pepper 2 tsp paprika

Preheat oven to 425*F. Place the BUTTER (remember, we talked about this) on a baking sheet WITH sides, and put it into the oven to melt. Keep peeking at it, you don't want it to burn.

*NOTE: If you're working with fresh chicken breasts, you will want to soak them for 15-30 minutes in milk or buttermilk before coating. This will help the coating to stick. I use frozen, thawed chicken breasts so they are already moist on the outside.

Combine all other ingredients besides chicken in a large ziploc bag. Add the chicken and shake to coat.

Take your pan of melted butter out of the oven and place your chicken on the prepared baking sheet, leaving a space between each strip. Bake 10 minutes, flip gently with a pair of tongs, and bake another 10 minutes.

See how golden it is?! Make sure your chicken is cooked through (165*F) as the thickness can greatly affect baking time. You want it to be done but not dry. Bake another few minutes if needed.

*Here's a tip for you - don't use more butter than the amount called for. I thought I had a brilliant idea this time. I thought butter is good so more butter will be better. Especially because I had a large amount of chicken and it was only a few more tablespoons. Wrong. It made my coating a bit soggy and as you can see in the picture some fell off when I flipped it. So sad.

It even looks pretty on your plate. And yes we actually eat our vegetables every night. I'm making an effort to make some better eating choices so I put lots of green on my plate and only a small amount of homemade mac & cheese. That stuff isn't healthy at all.

Hey, how about a 2 for 1 this time? Here's how I make my mac & cheese. All credit goes to my Mom for making it this way all of my life and passing it on to us. There is not a box version or restaurant that can hold a candle to this. (In my humble opinion of course.) I'll do my best to make this into a recipe for you. This is one of those no measurements recipes.

MOM'S MAC & CHEESE

Macaroni pasta

3-4 Tbsp butter

Salt & Pepper

Milk

REAL American cheese (and/or Velveeta cheese)

Prepare your macaroni as usual by boiling. When cooked to your liking, strain noodles and place back in pan. Keep the heat on low so you don't scorch anything. Add butter, salt and pepper to taste and a splash of milk (maybe 1/4 cup). Give it a stir. Add slices of American cheese. I usually start with 4 or 5. Stir and let that melt for a few minutes. You don't have to stir it constantly but don't walk away either. As the cheese melts you will be able to tell if it's too sticky. If it is, add another splash of milk. Stir. If it doesn't look cheesy enough, add a few more slices (or some Velveeta) and a little more milk. It might take a few more slices of cheese than you think but you don't want it to be bland. When your cheese is all melted and it makes a nice creamy coating on your pasta, it's done. I usually add a bit more salt and pepper too.

* Using real American cheese makes a huge difference. Look on your package, if it says "pasturized, processed cheese food" or "product" it AIN'T real. If it has to be held together in a "single" wrapper it also AIN'T real.

* I do use Velveeta (yes, I know this isn't real but it has it's place. 😉) if I have it on hand along with the American cheese. We do not care for the flavor of Velveeta only.