This meal is one of those that defies description. I mean, what could be simpler than oven-baked chicken? And it is simple, I can promise you that. However, what amazes me each time I make it is how juicy and tender the chicken is and how utterly flavorful the crispy crust becomes. This is most definitely our favorite way to eat a healthier version of fried chicken and I serve it with anything from these baked mashed potatoes, cheesy broccoli and rice casserole, or these blue cheese and cheddar scalloped potatoes. Sometimes we skip the starch altogether and eat it alongside a steamed veggie and salad. The options are endless.
One major key is using fresh breadcrumbs. I like to use two hefty slices of whole wheat bread, but if you don’t have a food processor, you can a) try using a blender to pulse the crumbs (anyone ever done this?) or b) use panko bread crumbs (found in the Asian foods section, usually). The finished texture will probably be slightly different, but it is better than using the sawdust-y bread crumbs from a can. The fresh bread crumbs absorb the butter and garlic and the freshly grated Parmesan adds another layer of flavor and crunch ensuring the chicken is blasting with flavor and tenderness after baking.
Note: If you don’t have a food processor to make fresh bread crumbs, you can try using a blender and pulsing the crumbs or try using panko bread crumbs (usually found in the Asian foods aisle). If you are using a food processor, you can also add the Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper to the bread crumbs and pulse to combine to create an even finer crumb.
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter
- 3 garlic cloves, finely minced (see garlic tutorial here)
- 2 thick slices whole wheat bread (for about 2 cups fresh bread crumbs)
- 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 4 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and coat lightly with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside. Combine butter and garlic in an 8- or 10-inch skillet. Heat over medium heat until the butter has melted. Pour the butter/garlic mixture into a shallow pie plate or similar dish and cool to room temperature.
- In the bowl of a food processor, tear the bread into large chunks, and pulse until the bread is ground into crumbs. Pour the bread crumbs into a shallow pie plate or shallow bowl and toss with the Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper.
- Dip each chicken breast in the melted, cooled garlic butter. Transfer to the bread crumb mixture and turn until coated on all sides. Arrange the chicken in one flat layer on the prepared baking sheet. Drizzle any of the remaining melted butter over the chicken. Bake the chicken until it is lightly browned and just cooked through, 40-50 minutes. The baking time will depend on the thickness and size of the chicken you are using. Don’t overcook or the chicken will be dry.
Recipe Source: adapted from Sara Moulton