Friday, June 17, 2011

My Father’s Unfried Chicken Recipe for Father’s Day


I grew up in the south and fried chicken was a family favorite in our home. As I’ve mentioned before, my mother was a great southern style cook, but never taught me how to cook. Actually I wasn’t even allowed to help much at all in the kitchen other than to dry the dishes or grate the cheese for pimento cheese sandwiches. However I loved to stay with her while she baked homemade bread, canned blueberry jelly, or whipped up a batch of fresh mayonnaise. A curious child, I would ask how to do this or that, but the answer was always the same. “Oh, I don’t know. I just do it.”

When I took Home Ec in the tenth grade, one of our assignments was to make dinner for our family. Naturally I chose fried chicken, mash potatoes and gravy, and some kind of vegetable which I don’t recall. All I remember was the chicken. This is rather embarrassing to tell on myself, but my mother cooked the entire dinner and there was never a question in her mind as to whether I was going to cook or not. The answer firmly was “no” and certainly not in her kitchen. As I look back on it today, I don’t know whether she thought I would make a huge mess and splatter grease all over her immaculately clean stove or that she thought she wasn’t a good enough cook to teach me. Probably the latter. I’ve found that a lot of people that cook from scratch using recipes in their head and do not measure don’t think of themselves as good cooks, which would apply to my mother. It certainly wasn’t that she wasn’t smart. She was a tough taskmaster on her students in her seventh grade English class and anyone who finished that class by golly spoke with good grammar and could diagram a sentence.

As my parents got older and my mother’s health declined, my father Bo did more and more of the cooking. One of his specialties was fried chicken, only he didn’t fry it, he baked it and we called it Bo’s "unfried" chicken. He made his own homemade bread crumbs by whirling around torn pieces of bread in what was then “the” new kitchen toy of the time - the food processor. To put his personal touch on the dish, he seasoned the crumbs with a few of his favorite herbs and spices.

One of the best tricks I learned from him was to add big generous dashes of Tabasco sauce to the beaten egg mixture. By the way, you almost can’t add too much hot sauce to the eggs. It gives the chicken a subtle extra kick of flavor, but definitely doesn’t make it hot or spicy.


The only major change I’ve made is to use really good quality extra virgin olive oil, because the flavor of the oil really comes through in this dish. You could also use a whole cut-up chicken or breasts with skin and bones to make a more authentic “southern fried” chicken. In either case, you’ll need to make more crumbs and egg wash, use more oil, and extend the cooking time accordingly.

We’ll be spending Father’s Day at a blogger get-together at Almost Heaven South on Lake Tellico for an authentic Texas BBQ served up by grilling greats Larry and Chris. To all the fathers out there, I hope you have a wonderful day surrounded by family and friends, filled with sunshine, happiness, and all your favorite foods. And be sure to give my father’s “unfried” chicken recipe a try. I know it’s sure to become one of your family favorites too.


Bo’s Unfried Chicken
From My Carolina Kitchen - Serves 4

4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, excess fat removed
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 cups unseasoned homemade bread crumbs (use a firm country bread)
½ cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup finely chopped fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley
¼ cup finely chopped fresh basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons sweet Hungarian paprika
2 large eggs, beaten to blend
Several big generous dashes of hot sauce, such as Tabasco
3 tablespoons (may need more) best quality extra-virgin olive oil

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Flatten the chicken breasts slightly with the heel of your hand, dry well with paper towels, then season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper on both sides.

On a large piece of wax paper combine the bread crumbs with the flour, parsley, basil, oregano, and paprika. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs together with several dashes of hot sauce.

One at a time, dip each chicken breast in the egg wash, allowing the excess to drip off. Then coat each side of the chicken with the bread crumb mixture. Place the chicken on a sheet pan and set aside in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes to allow coating to adhere to the chicken.

In a heavy oven-proof nonstick skillet large enough to hold 4 breasts, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat until it is hot. Add chicken pieces and cook until they just begin to brown, about 2 - 3 minutes on each side. Turn carefully with a spatula or tongs. (When I first put the chicken in the hot oil, I gently scoot it around for just a second, no more, so they don’t stick. An unconventional method, but it works. After that, don't touch them again until it's time to turn them.)

After chicken has browned on both sides, you may need to add a bit more olive oil at this point so the chicken doesn’t stick. Place skillet with chicken on the bottom rack in the preheated oven and bake 15 - 20 minutes, or until chicken is golden brown on both sides and its internal temperature reads 160 degrees F on an instant read thermometer. It may take longer to cook, depending on the size and thickness of your chicken.

Remove chicken to a cooling rack and let rest for ten minutes. This is an important step, because if you put the chicken it on a paper towel right away, it will steam and the crust tends to come off.



This chicken tastes great served hot or at room temperature, making it perfect for picnics or family outings.

This recipe was featured on Stone Gable's On the Menu Monday





61 comments:

  1. Have a beautiful weekend. Sam. Like the looks of the chicken. My mother never let me cook either, but I know her reason. She was a cook in a restaurant and did things her way and honestly had no patience for me to dabble in her kitchen. I kind of understand.

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  2. Looks Wonderful...Thanks Sam!

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  3. Beautiful post Sam and your father's chicken sounds really good. Have fun this weekend, sure wish I could be there.

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  4. A fabulous recipe! I really love the flavors, yummy.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  5. Looks wonderful Sam - will try adding Tabasco sauce to the egg mixture. xx

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  6. It does look like perfect picnic food. I am definitely aiming to try this. Love the idea of the tabasco flavor( I add it to the traditional fried chicken I make as well)

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  7. what a fantastic recipe! Love his version of this chicken and it is o light! So going to give this a try

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  8. Enjoy your BBQ weekend with the Bloggers! I am going to try this recipe soon. I enjoyed your post. My mom is/was the best cook ever and she had very little to work with. All I was allowed to do and did plenty of is clean up and maybe peel potatoes! I had to learn to cook mostly from trial and error. Mostly error at first!

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  9. This looks wonderful! I think it will be perfect for Sunday Supper.
    Sam I hope you have a wonderful weekend! Cheers,
    Lara

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  10. Have a wonderful Fathers Day at the blogger BBQ. I was never allowed in the kitchen either. We started Home Ec in Grade 6 and I remember enjoying making every dish starting with devilled eggs and broiled grapefruit.

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  11. Sam, have a great BBQ Weekend! This chicken I want to try, looks so good. Thanks.

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  12. How fun to hear the secrets of your Home Ec class - there's a lot of "true stories" about high school that I never intend to share! Bo's chicken looks wonderful - a good way to celebrate the ingenuity of Dad's everywhere!

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  13. My parents strongly encouraged a useful presence in the kitchen. With 6 girls (no boys) our dad did his share of the cooking and almost always Sunday dinner. He taught me how to cut and fry chicken. I do not fry it anymore but it was the best ever. My girls did not know that chicken had bones (chicken tenders) and I did not know that there was a chicken breast (that was for Mom) - hah!

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  14. I love the looks of Bo's Chicken! Have a happy BBQ weekend :)

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  15. I can't wait to try this, Sam. As always, a wonderful story. My dad liked to tinker in the kitchen too, and he was pretty darn good.

    Looking forward to seeing you and Meakin Sunday!

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  16. Hello,

    Oh my! Delicious!


    ~ Gabriela ~

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  17. Lovely Dad's Day post. I think the concept of 'unfried' chicken is awesome. Looks delicious too! Sounds like you've got a fantastic weekend planned! Have fun :)

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  18. This looks so delicious. I look forward to trying it.

    FlowerLady

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  19. I smiled while reading the description of your mother. Friends would often ask my mother if she taught me how to cook, and to which she quickly responded, "no".

    Sam, we love chicken and this looks mighty fine; I will be sure to try it soon. Have a remarkable weekend.

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  20. Your father's chicken looks delicious, Sam! I love all of those herbs, seasonings and Tabasco. My mother was a simple cook and a simple teacher in the kitchen but I still have some good recipes of hers that I still use today.

    Enjoy your Father's Day gathering!

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  21. Wow...these look crispier and tastier than traditional fried chicken.

    P.S. I always put a splash of hot sauce in beaten eggs whether it's for scrambled eggs or a coating.

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  22. I'm surprized about the cooking lessons as I thought every woman of that generation wanted to teach their kids to cook, but you obviously learned somewhere. The chicken looks and sounds super good. See you Sunday.

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  23. I had a mom very similar to yours, she would not even think of having me help in the kitchen.

    This unfried chicken looks like a very good recipe for people like me, afraid of frying.

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  24. Looks delicious!!.. Thanks for sharing the recipe, I'm going to give it a try -

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  25. That sounds really good. My mom was just the opposite in the kitchen - she tried to teach us everything. I wish I had paid more attention some days. :)

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  26. I'm so envious that you will be attending a blogger get together at Almost Heaven South. Larry's BBQ always looks so darn good.

    Thanks for sharing this recipe, Sam. You've given us some good tips on unfrying chicken.

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  27. I love the seasoning on that, Sam! What a super recipe. Hope you have wonderful food and friends on Father's Day!

    Ina Garten mentioned once she was never allowed in the kitchen when she was young and look how she turned out! You're in good company. :)

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  28. Great looking chicken,Sam. I will try this.
    My mother didn't teach me to cook anything but how to make biscuits, when I was older. And that was because I stood by her side and begged her to let me try it. She never used recipes.
    When I married, my poor husband had to try all my failures, but eventually he said I was a good cook. I am glad I didn't make him sick or poison him with some of my mistakes.

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  29. Sam, I had the exact childhood experience....The chicken looks fabulous..can't wait to try.

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  30. Thanks for this wonderful story, Sam. Your dad's recipe looks great. Hope you have a wonderful time tomorrow!

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  31. Thanks for visiting -- so happy to meet you! Your Dad's chicken looks wonderful! I have done it in a similar way, and it works very well.

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  32. I love the idea of a baked "fried" chicken. It looks divine and I WILL be trying this.
    My Gourmet Bahamian Cooking book arrived yesterday. You were right Sam, there is a recipe for the fresh coconut pie. I'll let you know how it is.
    Thanks for the tip. ;)

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  33. shame your mum didn't teach you to cook, but your Dad made up for it great recipe have a fun weekend Sam

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  34. Sam~ I don't make fried chicken. On a recent trip to Savannah I ate at Lady and Sons (in the window!) and Mrs. Wilkes. I ate myself silly with fried chicken! It was light, delicious, crispy, and moist. I was in chicken heaven! Once I got home and back to reality I missed that fabulous chicken! I look so forward to trying your "Unfried Chicken". The coating looks substancial and flavorful! Look for it On The Menu the week of June 26th! I'll link back to this post.
    Sam, it looks like your recipes will be regulars on my blog! And my blog will be more yummy for it!
    Thanks,
    Yvonne

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  35. I never fry chicken at home because I don't like the mess and all the leftover oil. This is a perfect alternative for me since the process eliminates the two I mentioned above. Best of all, it looks like the flavor and texture are not compromised in any way by preparing chicken this way. This is a winner.

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  36. Tabasco in the eggs is a smashing idea! That's why I love blogs - you get some real, flavorful information. I will be trying this - also love that you serve lemon with your fried/baked chicken. I also do that! Hope your weekend is grand!

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  37. My Mom did not like to cook, so as children my sibling and I would often prepare our own meals! I liked to bake so that was my favorite thing to do. Both of my brothers became excellent home chefs!
    I love your Dad's version of unfried chicken. I bet it is moist and very flavorful!

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  38. Oh, this sounds really good! And I didn't know letting the chicken rest on a rack would keep the crust on...I must remember that!

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  39. What a great post and your chicken looks incredible. It's a beautiful day here in Toronto and this would be perfect picnic food!

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  40. Healthy and delicious!!! What a fantastic post!! :)

    xx,
    Tammy

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  41. Sounds delicious -- reminds me a bit of Julia Child's chicken diable -- one of my favorites.

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  42. Sam,
    I made your father's chicken last night & it was terrific!!! Thank you for sharing - this will be a classic in our home.

    Thank you,
    Lara

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  43. Oh what a wonderful idea - and I love the name! Some of my favourite dishes from childhood have these kind of jokey names that are a mystery to anybody outside the family - like "hot coleslaw" - my brother's childhood name for mashed green beans mixed with mashed potatoes with plenty of pepper - go figure! Love fried chicken but never been a fan of deep-frying so this sounds like the recipe for me :)

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  44. What a lovely remembrance of you Dad. The recipe is perfect for Father's Day and it really sounds delicious. I hope you have a great day. Blessings...Mary

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  45. Hope you had a lovely weekend. Beautfiful memories of you dad. Thanks so much for posting this fantastic recipe.Will be trying is soon; looks amazing!
    Rita

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  46. Great chicken and blog and the blogger get-together sounds like fun! Thanks so much for stopping by and for your lovely comment!

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  47. That chicken looks downright homey in that basket. Great picture. And I loved the post - so great when you mention your parents and your memories of them.

    Thanks!
    Gary

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  48. Sam, such an enjoyable post to read about your childhood and your parents' cooking. My mother/daughter and father cooking experience was identical. My mother only allowed me to bake boxed cakes for my dad's birthdays and father's days: Boston Cream Cake or Pineapple Upside Down cake....period! My dad had an Italian restaurant and he also never let me cook. I learned on my own when my first husband had to teach me how to make a box of macaroni and cheese when we were in college or we were going to starve! On the contrary, my northern parents never fried chicken and I learned that on my own as well from the pages of Bon Appetit! Your father's recipe sounds and LOOKS scrumptious and I like that it is baked.

    Hope the weekend at Big Dude's was great fun! Sorry, I couldn't make it!

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  49. I can't wait to try this one - YUM !

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  50. Sam, your dad's recipe of unfried chicken is awesome, I love the mixture in the bread crumb...the pieces of chicken are so beautiful resting on the rack. Love the idea of not being fried.
    Hope you are having a great week :-)

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  51. This is my kind of fried food - in the oven! Thanks for a great recipe, I'll be making this one!

    Mary

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  52. The color is amazing, it looks so browned and deliciously crunchy!

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  53. Hi again, Google won't let me become a follower today - I'll have to try again later!

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  54. I love the secret tip about the hot sauce in the egg. That is something I would do to sneak it past my kids. They love hints of hot sauce when I use it in a recipe but if they ever SEE it added, they protest.

    Spending the day with you guys last Sunday was a true joy.

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  55. Your chicken looks great, I'll have to try it! Also agree about the hot sauce and eggs, I dump it on:@)

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  56. This sounds wonderful! I can't wait to try it. Thanks for sharing!

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  57. I would like to try this chicken, too! And you brought back memories to me...I was never allowed to help in the kitchen. My mother did it all and didn't want to take the time to teach us. I learned everything on my own...mostly with cookbooks! ♥

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  58. I'm sorry I missed this post Sam.

    As I am awaiting some news on my own father... I really enjoyed reading about yours. Loved it...and his chicken too!

    God Bless the man who knows how to use hot sauce...am I right?!

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  59. And...what grade did you get? The story is quite funny about your mom cooking your homework assignment! And this is a recipe that will get made here for sure: I love fried chicken but only oven bake it and I am always up for new recipes. This looks particularly flavorful, crispy and delicious!

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  60. Hello Sam

    This I shall definitely make and take on summer picnics to the beach. Many thanks.

    Have a glorious weekend and fun at the bloggers conference
    Say hi to everyone from me

    Helen xx

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  61. Hello Sam

    This I shall definitely make and take on summer picnics to the beach. Many thanks.

    Have a glorious weekend and fun at the bloggers conference
    Say hi to everyone from me

    Helen xx

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Sam