Today, we’re talking about chicken. Most of the time, I love it! Whether it’s tossed in a stir-fry, marinated and grilled, or even sautéed with simple herbs and seasoning, there’s so much you can do with chicken. I don’t eat a ton of red meat, and Fabio is allergic to shellfish/not a huge seafood fan, so chicken is a go-to in our house. Unfortunately since chicken is on the menu 9 nights out of 10, it’s pretty easy for me to fall into a chicken-cooking rut. This is what happened one night last week, when I decided to dig through my recipe archives that I keep on my computer, and get creative with chicken again!
The creation I came up with was not only flavorful and, dare I say, moist, but it was also really easy to make! Win!
Here’s how it came together.
First, I preheated the oven to 375 degrees, and set up a few “stations” which acted as my work space. The stations included two large plates or bowls for dredging, and my chicken.
Quick chicken tip #1: I buy frozen chicken breasts from Costco (you can buy a huge 20 lb. bag) and keep them in the freezer. Then when I know I’m going to want chicken for dinner, I try to remember to take a couple of breasts out of the freezer in the morning, and let them thaw in a Ziploc bag in the fridge all day. Then when I’m ready to start making dinner in the evening, they are thawed and ready to go! Sometimes I forget to take them out in the morning, and then I let them defrost in the microwave. This method works just as well but is a little messier, so it’s up to you. Of course, you could just buy chicken fresh from the store, and then you wouldn’t have to thaw it at all!
Quick chicken tip #2: I used to think you had to wash raw chicken in the sink before cooking it, but I recently read that it’s actually not a good idea to do this. Apparently the chicken companies put a lot of work into making sure their chicken is clean before they ship it out to stores, and the hot cooking temperatures will kill any other bacteria before you eat the chicken. If you rinse the chicken in the sink, you might actually be spreading the bacteria to other areas of your kitchen. Ew!
Then it was time to get my other stations ready. To a smaller bowl I added two eggs and about 1 tbsp. of fat free ranch dressing.
Adding the ranch dressing was a tip I picked up from an old chicken recipe I used to make all the time, and it just gives the chicken a bit of extra flavor and moisture as it bakes. I whisked the ranch and eggs together and added it to one of my large bowls.
To my other bowl I added about 1 cup of panko bread crumbs, and about 1/2 tsp. of old bay seasoning. Although I am currently a resident of Virginia, I’m a Maryland girl born and raised, so old bay is one of my favorite seasonings! If you don’t have old bay however, you can get creative with whatever seasonings you like. Old bay has a high sodium content and is a bit spicy so I didn’t add any salt or pepper; if you aren’t using old bay you want to be sure to add those. You could also add garlic powder, onion powder, curry powder, dried herbs – whatever you like! Then I just tossed the spices around with the breadcrumbs until it was mixed thoroughly.
Then it was time to get messy! I dipped one chicken breast into the egg/ranch mixture, and then let the excess egg drip off before dipping the chicken in the breadcrumbs.
Then I repeated this process, doing one more coating of each egg and bread crumbs, before setting the chicken aside and moving on to the next one. For a nice crispy coating, it’s important to dip each chicken breast twice.
If you can, it’s best to pop these into the freezer for a few minutes after this so they can tighten up and make a crispier crust. As with Fabio’s famous mozzarella sticks, the crispy coating sticks much better when the food has been chilled in the freezer for 10-20 minutes. If you don’t have time for this though, you can skip it!
Next I placed a wire rack on top of a cookie sheet and sprayed the rack liberally with nonstick spray. Then I placed the breaded chicken breasts on the rack, and popped them into the hot oven!
I let them cook for about 12 minutes, then flipped them over so the other side could cook. Cooking times will vary depending on your oven and your chicken, and if you don’t want to cut into the chicken to see if it’s done, you can push on the chicken with your finger and get a pretty good idea. Chicken that gives in and feels soft is not ready, and chicken that feels firm and has no give is probably done. Of course, you can always use a meat thermometer or cut into your chicken to check, but I just kinda poke it 😉 You do you!
These two took about 25 minutes.
Here’s the finished chicken! I just love those golden brown delicious bread crumbs.
I served the baked chicken with mixed veggies and brown rice, which was a perfect combination. This chicken would go well with anything though!
The chicken was perfectly flavored from the old bay-seasoned bread crumbs, and was tender and moist. 🙂
Since the whole meal took about 30 minutes to make, it was perfect for a busy weeknight. I wound up making this chicken after Fabio’s softball game last week, and was so happy with how easy and tasty it turned out. I actually got full about halfway through my chicken, so I gave it to Fabio to polish off. He loved it, and didn’t even bother with a fork and knife!
Caught in the action. Ha!
- 2 breasts of chicken, thawed
- 2 eggs
- 1 tbsp. Ranch dressing (fat free or regular)
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
- ½ tsp. seasoning of your choice (old bay or salt, pepper, garlic powder, etc.)
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- In a small bowl, whisk eggs and ranch together. Once mixed, pour into a larger plate or bowl.
- In the other large plate/bowl, add breadcrumbs and seasoning. Mix thoroughly.
- Take one of the chicken breasts and dredge in egg mixture then breadcrumbs. Repeat.
- Do the same thing with the next chicken breast, so each breast is dipped twice.
- Place the chicken breasts in the freezer for 10-20 minutes, if possible (I usually do this on a separate plate).
- Place a wire rack on a cookie sheet, and spray with nonstick spray.
- Place the chicken breasts on the wire rack, and place in the oven.
- Bake the chicken for 12 minutes, then remove the chicken and flip them over. Cook for approximately 12 more minutes, or until chicken is firm to the touch.
Question of the day: What’s your favorite weeknight chicken dish? Feel free to leave links in the comments below!
*Psst…to see what blog activities I’ve been working on behind the scenes, go here.*