The first day I met Jenn Harris, my #LAfriedchickenqueen colleague, I promised to take her to my favorite fried chicken shop in L.A. Broaster Kitchen in Montebello is my go-to for shatteringly crisp chicken. The secret to its chicken — which Harris and I ate for a recent episode of Bucket List — are its broaster machines, which simultaneously deep-fry and pressure-cook the chicken to maximize crunch and juiciness.
Since we home cooks do not have pressure fryers in our kitchens and deep-frying is the sort of thing that’s a deal-breaker for many (it takes a lot of oil, spatters hard-to-clean greasy grime and is a mess to clean up), I turn to oven frying in times of crisp chicken need.
It’s not the same but it comes close, especially if you’re making Nashville-style hot chicken. The final drizzle of oil seasons and spices the crust and hits with the same satisfying wallop as the original.
To nail the other hallmarks of hot chicken, I’ve come up with four workarounds that will give you an easy weeknight crunchy chicken dinner:
Use only drumsticks. The meat stays juicy even in the dry heat of the oven.
Substitute a short mayonnaise marinade for a longer buttermilk one. Mayo not only helps glue on the crumb coating, it keeps the meat tender.
Boost the taste and texture of the crumb coating. I combine spices and Parmesan with panko. Cheese may seem unlikely in fried chicken, but here, it acts as an umami boost while helping the crumbs brown. Panko offers the most crunch of all the supermarket crumb options, but the pieces are a bit large to mimic flour-coated fried chicken. To achieve a similar crust, break the panko into even smaller bits by rubbing them between your fingers or pulsing in a food processor.
Bake the chicken on a wire rack. Elevating the chicken allows the heat to circulate around it, crisping the crumbs on all sides. Because nobody wants soggy-bottomed fried chicken.
As with any hot chicken, the spice oil makes or breaks it. Kim Prince of Hotville Chicken in Los Angeles, a member of the Prince family that operates Nashville’s original hot chicken restaurant, says, “The goal is to make the spice oil flavorful — not just hot. You don’t need to try to figure out the original spice recipe from Prince’s or any other place. Just find the spices that work.”
The end result is hot chicken that’s as good right out of the oven as it is the next day cold from the fridge. If you’re afraid of spicy heat and just want a solid oven-fried chicken recipe, use a mild hot sauce in the mayo mix and eliminate the cayenne.
OVEN-FRIED NASHVILLE-STYLE HOT CHICKEN
Time: 55 minutes
Serves 6 to 8
Inspired by Nashville hot chicken, this version swaps deep-frying for oven frying but retains the signature spiced oil that coats the chicken at the end. Crunchy and hot, it’s a great option for making fried chicken at home. Use your favorite hot pepper sauce in the mayonnaise coating because it stays on the chicken and contributes to its heat level and flavor. Classic Nashville hot chicken is served with sliced white bread and pickles, the former for soaking up the spiced oil and taming the heat, the latter to provide a tart counterpoint. You can serve it that way as well.
1/4 cup vegetable oil, plus more for rack
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup hot pepper sauce, such as Frank’s Red Hot
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
12 chicken drumsticks (about 3 1/2 pounds)
1 1/2 cups panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
1. Set an oven rack in the top third of the oven, then heat to 450 degrees. Line a half-sheet pan or rimmed baking sheet with foil and set a wire rack over it. If the rack isn’t nonstick, rub with oil to lightly coat.
2. Whisk the mayonnaise, hot pepper sauce, mustard, 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a large bowl. Add the chicken and turn to evenly coat. Let stand while preparing the breading.
3. Combine the panko, Parmesan, 1 teaspoon paprika, 1 teaspoon cayenne and 1 teaspoon salt in a shallow dish. Rub the mixture together with your fingers to break the crumbs into smaller bits. Roll a drumstick in the mixture to evenly and completely coat, pressing on the crumbs if needed. Shake off any excess crumbs, then place the drumstick on the rack. Repeat with the remaining drumsticks. If you have time, let stand for at least 15 minutes.
4. Bake until the chicken is golden brown, crunchy and cooked through, about 30 minutes. When you pierce one with the tip of a sharp paring knife, the juices should run clear.
5. While the chicken bakes, combine the sugar with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon paprika, 1 tablespoon cayenne and 1 teaspoon salt in a medium heatproof bowl. Heat the 1/4 cup oil in a small saucepan over medium heat until wavy. Pour over the spices. Once the sizzling subsides, stir well.
6. As soon as the chicken comes out of the oven, stir the spiced oil again and drizzle evenly over the drumsticks. Serve hot.
©2020 Los Angeles Times
Visit the Los Angeles Times at www.latimes.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.