Fast food: the tastiest and healthiest fried chicken

Fried chicken Friday’s. Crispy, scrumptious and home made, much better than Colonel Sanders offerings. While growing up, Mom cooked up a batch every Friday before her weekly ladies’ poker night. As busy as she was with working, three kids, a husband and managing the household, she made time to prepare fresh cooked dinners at least five nights a week. Micky D’s or Kentucky Fried visits just did not happen on my mom’s watch.

It has been about 25 years since I enjoyed mom’s tasty recipe with a crunchy coating, herbs and spices so several years ago I stumbled upon my own version I dubbed Crispy Chicken.

Friends love it. The cool part, no additional fat, deep frying mess or calorie loaded crust. Crisp outside and tender, moist, flavorful chicken on the inside.

I was craving it for lunch so whipped up a batch and started writing this column while preparing it. It is super easy to make, even for those cooking challenged.

I use a method call quick broiling. This is one of the healthiest ways to cook most meats, poultry and fish because you are cooking both sides at the same time and fast. This helps to retain nutrients. But it was my chef friends who turned me on to this method because of the awesome results.

Tasty, healthy and quick food from your own kitchen can happen, and that is without a microwave. A great resource for other quick and healthy cooking methods can be found at www.whfoods.org, plus an encyclopedia on the world’s healthiest foods. Better yet, order the book The World’s Healthiest Foods by George Mateljan.

So here is what you need to make the tastiest healthy fried chicken ever.

Naked Crispy Chicken

Ingredients:
One pound boneless skinless chicken thighs or drumsticks
Sea salt
Fresh cracked pepper

Seasoned cast iron pan (an all stainless steel pan will work as well, but it must be high heat tolerant with no plastic handles (+500 degrees )

Preheat broiler to high. Place cast iron pan under broiler about 6 inches from the heat (you can line your oven with aluminum foil to protect from grease splatter). While pan is heating up, 7-10 minutes, pat chicken dry. If you are using drumsticks peel back the skin to reveal the meat. You can remove the skin. Season with salt and pepper on both sides.

When the cast iron pan just starts to smoke, briefly remove the pan from the oven and place the chicken in the pan. Replace the pan back in the oven. You will not need to turn the chicken. The oven should have good ventilation. I recommend turning on the oven fan.
Cook for 15-20 minutes. The chicken is done when the meat releases clear juices. Remove from the pan and place on a serving platter and let rest five minutes before serving.
Leftovers can be reheated on the stove top to restore the crispiness

Season the chicken with Italian spices or your favorite spice combination. I once created a blackened version. It was kickin’, but be careful here. It can be a great method for testing your smoke alarms. I did. The house filled with smoke and I realized the alarms did not work.

Substitute chicken breast. Breasts cook in 7-10 minutes depending on the size. It will be nicely golden colored but not crispy like the dark meat, but you will love how it tastes and tenderness.
Note: Remember to use oven mitts when ever handling cast iron. Singed palms can ruin a good meal and make cleaning up a challenge.

Here is the clincher, especially in tight times.

A pound of organic free range drumsticks costs $1.99 with boneless thighs selling for $4.99 at Trader Joe’s. That is about 5 pieces a pound. I recently found Costco carrying Coleman Natural Foods’ organic boneless chicken breasts for $6.00 a pound, 2 nice size pieces a pound.

An 8 piece bucket of Kentucky fried goes for $11.99 and includes 2 thighs, 2 legs, 2 breasts and two wings (do wings even count?). Another aha moment. In 30 minutes or less, I can cook up 5 legs, 5 thighs and 2 breasts for $12.98 (natural would be even less than organic).That is about double the volume (sans the wings) for a buck more.

My idea of fast food: quick to prepare, crispy, tasty, healthy and a great value. Colonel Sanders, I think the SWEAT Princess may have you licked.

If you try this recipe, let me know me know how it goes. Can you shift a few drive through dining moments to cooking and eating at home? What might the impact be?