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Turn to snack foods to create coating for crispy fried chicken

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If you want crunchy breaded chicken, you need to start with crunchy ingredients.

That's one of the problems with most baked "fried" chicken recipes. They coat the chicken with flour-or breadcrumb-based coatings that rely on you to make them crispy.

Substituting a coating that starts life crispy long before it ever meets up with the chicken removes that element of chance.

For salty, savoury goodness, this recipe uses crushed potato chips and pretzels, but any combination of similar ingredients would work. For example, for a Mexican chicken, you could use tortilla chips.

While a food processor is best for turning the chips and pretzels into crumbs, tossing them into a plastic bag and whacking them with a rolling pin or skillet works, too. But the crumbs must be fine; large ones don't adhere well.

This recipe keeps the seasonings in the coating mostly neutral, but it's easy to improvise. Grated Parmesan cheese would be good, as would any number of spices, such as oregano, paprika, even curry powder.

Or experiment with flavours by using varieties of potato chips with different seasonings. Ranch or salt and vinegar chips would be particularly tasty.

Creating a white pan sauce for the chicken is easy, but you could easily skip that step of the recipe and serve the chicken however you prefer.

 

Potato Chip and Pretzel Baked Chicken

60 g (2 oz) plain potato chips

60 g (2 oz) thin pretzel sticks

2 ml ( 1/2 tsp) red pepper flakes

2 eggs

15 ml (1 tbsp) low-sodium soy sauce

625 g (1 1/4 lb) chicken breasts

30 ml (2 tbsp) canola or vegetable oil

375 ml (1 1/2 cups) sweet white wine (such as Riesling)

Pinch saffron threads

5 ml (1 tsp) dry parsley

1 ml ( 1/4 tsp) salt

30 ml (2 tbsp) butter

15 ml (1 tbsp) cornstarch

30 ml (2 tbsp) cold water

Heat oven to 230 C (450 F).

In a food processor, combine potato chips, pretzels and red pepper flakes, then pulse until they are reduced to very fine crumbs. Transfer mixture to a wide, shallow bowl and set aside.

In a second wide, shallow bowl, whisk together eggs and soy sauce. Set aside.

Carefully slice each chicken breast in half horizontally to create 2 thin fillets.

One at a time, place chicken breasts in egg mixture, turning to coat both sides. Dredge each fillet through chip and pretzel mixture, turning to coat both sides.

In a large, oven-safe skillet over medium-high, heat oil until very hot. Add chicken breasts and cook until browned on bottom, about 4 minutes. Turn breasts, then place skillet in oven. Bake for 10 minutes.

Remove chicken from oven and transfer to a serving plate. Cover with foil to keep warm.

Return skillet to stovetop over medium-high heat. Add wine, saffron, parsley and salt. Bring to a simmer, stirring and scraping bottom of pan with a spoon to release any browned bits.

Simmer until liquid is reduced by half, then add butter and swirl it in until melted.

In a small glass, mix cornstarch and water, then add to skillet. Return to a simmer, stirring constantly, and cook until thickened, 1 to 2 minutes. Serve chicken with pan sauce.

Makes 6 servings.

Nutrition information per serving (values are rounded to the nearest whole number): 352 calories, 114 calories from fat, 13 g fat (4 g saturated, 0 g trans fats), 118 mg cholesterol, 24 g carbohydrate, 25 g protein, 0 g fibre, 354 mg sodium.

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