Friday, October 26, 2012

Parmesan Crusted Baked Chicken Thighs

We are proud of the fact that virtually every night for dinner it's a home cooked meal.  No fast food, nothing microwaved, our entrees don't come wrapped with cellophane ready to pop into the oven, no pre-made processed food loaded with preservatives and other crap with ingredient lists a mile long.  It's tastier and healthier that way.  But I won't lie to you, cooking from scratch every night isn't easy.  Some meals are not difficult, like risotto, or a couple pan-seared pork chops or grilled ribeye.  Some recipe ideas we look forward to making, from ones that are old faves to something brand new.  Occasionally it can be a struggle to think of something to cook, then ensure you have the right ingredients on hand (and thawed!), and then get it on the table somewhere near dinner time.

 This is about as close as we get to last-minute food for a weeknight dinner.  After spending 5 minutes going over every other possibility we don't want to eat, by the time the oven is pre-heated the chicken is ready to be cooked. 

 There's no real measuring to this- just eyeball your breading station ingredients and off you go yo.  

One thing I will insist on- using an internal thermometer to know when this protein is fully cooked.  This ain't no kobe beef or wild salmon that can be eaten at varying degrees of doneness, chicken must be cooked until it reaches a minimum of 165F.  Sure, you could knife into it to peek at the color of the meat, or see if the juices run clear, but then you would be drying out your meat losing all that jus.  And that would be a bad bad thing.

I cook with chicken thighs instead of breasts.  They have more taste and are cheaper.  Your choice.  Okay.  I also like to use a mix of panko and regular bread crumbs.  Just panko will do.  Plain bread crumbs aren't crunchy enough.  A crust of Ritz crackers, cornflakes, or potato chips would also be yummy.

Parmesan Crusted Baked Chicken Thighs
3-4 servings, depending on the size of your thighs. The chicken thighs. Not yours. 

4-5 pieces bone-in chicken thighs, (a typical package) at room temp
3/4 C AP flour
2 eggs
1/4 C bread crumbs
1 C panko bread crumbs
1/2 C freshly grated parmigiano reggiano
kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Fire up the oven to 380F.

Set up your breading station- with shallow dishes (I like 9" pie plates).  One for the flour (seasoned with S&P), one for the eggs (lightly beaten) and one for the bread crumbs mixed with the parm.  Season the chicken on each side with S&P, then coat with the flour.  Shake off the excess and dredge in the egg, letting any superfluous run off before moving to the bread crumb mixture.  Coat well on each side and then place on a rack on a sheet pan.  The rack will help crisp all sides and avoid soggy bottom syndrome.  Cook until internal temperature reaches 165F, about 40 minutes, then rest for at least 5 minutes.  Cooking time will depend on the protein size, hence the need for a thermometer. 

It's not the week's most exciting meal, but paired with a pasta salad or green salad, it gets the job done.  A honey mustard dipping sauce spiked with rosemary also helps.  

What are you gonna be for Halloween this year? I'm still debating...I dressed as a chef last year.  I should have made these too for the party. 

I think I nailed it, even got the chicken and spoon you barely see stuffed in my apron.  I left my giant Cutco cleaver at home though, don't want to go missing any more digits.

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