You might love the crunch and flavor of breaded and fried chicken, but it's not the healthiest preparation. Baking the chicken instead will save you more than a few calories, especially if you skip the fatty dark meat of legs and wings and use chicken breasts only, which are made up of lean white meat. Rolling the chicken breasts in seasoned cornmeal before baking gives them a flavorful crust, mimicking the satisfying crunch of fried chicken with only a fraction of the calories.
Prepare your chicken breasts by slicing them in half horizontally with a sharp chef's knife, so that you have two thinner chicken breasts. You can also opt to cover the chicken breast in plastic wrap and pound them to a 1/2-inch thickness instead of slicing them.
Preheat your oven to between 350 and 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Heat a thin layer of vegetable oil in a skillet over medium heat.
Fill a large resealable freezer bag halfway with cornmeal and season it with salt and pepper to taste. Other popular seasonings include garlic powder, chili powder, cayenne pepper and dried Italian herbs.
Make an egg wash by beating 2 or 3 eggs with a little water. You can also choose to replace some or all of the water with another flavoring ingredient, such as chicken broth, spicy mustard or even honey.
Dredge the chicken breasts one at a time with the egg wash, then place them in the bag of cornmeal. Seal the bag and shake vigorously to coat the chicken in the cornmeal.
Place the cornmeal-crusted chicken into the hot skillet on the stove for browning. Cook on each side for about 2 to 3 minutes, flipping them over with tongs.
Transfer the browned chicken breasts to a foil-lined baking sheet that has been greased lightly with vegetable oil and place in the oven. If you are using a cast-iron skillet, you can put the skillet in the oven instead of transferring the chicken breasts.
Bake the chicken for about 5 to 8 minutes in the oven, turning halfway through, until they are cooked to 165 F. Use a meat thermometer inserted in the center of each chicken breast to check the temperature. Serve hot.
- Sit the chicken on a wire rack above the foil-lined baking tray so the chicken doesn't end up sitting in its own oils, ensuring a crispier cornmeal crust.
- Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images