Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Good Like Chicken and Biscuits

With just over two months to go until The Wedding Day, things have become a bit crazy around here. Crazy and very distracted. It's really weird to me, because I never used to be a stress eater. In fact, it was just the opposite for years. I could barely eat at all when I was nervous. But this very week, I think I may have consumed my weight in lemon bars. It was an Ina Garten recipe, and I found it on the Food Network. The end result was delicious, but it was a little soupy, to say the least. I was making the bars while in a bit of a rush, so it's highly likely that I did something wrong, though I don't know what.

But today I made something far more successful that also appeals to me in these hectic moments. I'm not sure why, having been born and raised in Pennsylvania, and having lived here nearly my entire life, but I love Southern food. I had a Kentucky Derby party last year, and I want to have another one next year (this year, it's impossible, because of a Wedding Shower. While I'm looking forward to that, it just goes to show how getting married can kind of take over everything).

I have to admit, I don't know if I have ever eaten authentic Soul food. I have been to Pop Eye's once, but I think comparing that to Southern food is nearly as bad as thinking Taco Bell represents the best of Mexican cuisine. I once had barbecue ribs and corn bread from a North Carolina restaurant that was participating in the Pittsburgh rib fest at Heinz field. I thought it was so delicious that I didn't even care that I had the sauce all over my face.

So, usually when I want something close to Southern food, I have to make it myself. I've waxed poetic time and again about these biscuits, and I'm here to do it again. Plus, a little practice makes perfect. I can now bang these guys out in about five minutes.

The last time I attempted fried chicken, I wasn't pleased with the result. So I've given up and used something else to give me the crispy texture I want. Cornflakes. So yes, the recipe that I have for you today is one for cornflake chicken. It's actually quite healthy, and I've added some flavoring to make it "the best chicken you've ever made", according to Sean. It may not be the best chicken you've ever made, but I think it will come close. And I strongly recommend that you serve your chicken with some freshly made biscuits. Because these two things belong together. Which led me to think of this wedding slogan:
"Lauren and Sean ~Good together like chicken and biscuits~" What do you think?

Cornflake Chicken (aka Chicken a la Southern Fried But  Baked in the Oven)

1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast
2 cups plain, reduced fat yogurt
1/2 teaspoon salt
Pepper, to taste
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon seasoning salt ( I used Jane's Krazy Mixed Up Seasonings Original Mixed-Up Salt,   but Lawry's seasoning salt, or your own proprietary blend would work here too.  You want something with a little kick, maybe even just some garlic powder)
3 cups corn flake cereal, placed in a plastic zip top bag and crushed
1-2 tablespoons butter
Cooking spray

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  However, if you are baking some biscuits, a hotter oven will work fine. The chicken will just be done faster.
In a small mixing bowl, add the yogurt and stir.  And the seasonings and stir again.  Taste, and adjust the seasonings.  Place the chicken in a small pan or platter.  Cover with the yogurt mixture and use a fork to turn the chicken, making sure that each piece is covered with the yogurt marinade. Allow to sit at least thirty minutes.  You could also do this step in the morning, or the night before.  I use the thirty minutes to work on my biscuits.
Using tongs, place the chicken breasts, one at a time, in the crushed cornflake bag. Seal the bag and move it  around to allow the flakes to stick to the chicken. If necessary, use your hands to stick cornflakes onto any places that are bare. Set the chicken aside on a clean plate and continue until all of the pieces are covered with the cornflakes. Discard the flakes and the yogurt. Melt 1-2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet.  Add the chicken and allow to brown on each side, over medium heat.
Spray a large glass baking dish with cooking spray.  Turn off the heat under the skillet and move the chicken to the pan.  Place the pan in the oven and allow to bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or when the meat is cooked through and a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the chicken reads 160 or higher.  Remove the pan from the oven and cover with foil.  Allow the chicken to rest a few minutes before serving.