Crumbed chicken in one form or another has been part of my diet for an absolute lifetime. My ex-husband will attest to the notion that my Hungarian-born mother had perfected the recipe for breaded drumsticks.
In the mid 1960s, before buckets of KFC became 'a thing' in Australia, my darling mum would prepare a bucketload of lovingly crumbed, perfectly fried chicken pieces to feed my father, my siblings and the extended family.
She could tell that the oil was at the right temperature simply by watching the oil bubbles, as they danced around the chicken in the deep-sided frying pan. She knew when to turn, so that the cooked chicken pieces were deliciously golden brown and not burnt. And, because she took care in the preparation, the coating always 'stuck' and the chicken was flavourful and well seasoned.
With the passing of time, my constitution has let me know that it can no longer cope with fried foods, nor the flour and breadcrumb component. Hence, I've had to look for an alternative.
I've been using rice crumbs as a coating for oven baked chicken for a long time now, but it wasn't until recently that I tried Cornflakes - although I had seen it done a few times by one of the home economists who led the children's cooking classes in my (former) cooking school. Nor had I tried brining or soaking the chicken pieces in buttermilk before coating them.
Having made the dish a few times now, I'm delighted to report that the recipe is a keeper. Peter gives it the 'Mmmmmmmmmmmmm' nod and two thumbs up.
I love it because it's quick and easy. It's far less time consuming to soak the tenderloins in the buttermilk, than dipping them into flour, then egg, then crumbs. Secondly, the buttermilk leaves you with succulent meat. And thirdly, oven baking is much better all round than frying. It certainly makes my tummy happy. If only my mum was still around to try it.
CORNFLAKE CRUSTED BUTTERMILK CHICKEN TENDERLOINS
600g free range chicken tenderloin strips
2/3 cup buttermilk+
4 heaped cups cornflakes, finely crushed*
sea salt and black pepper, ground
1 teaspoon sweet Hungarian paprika
1/2 teaspoon chilli powder or cayenne pepper (optional)
1 tablespoon finely shredded Parmesan cheese (optional)
olive oil cooking spray
Combine the chicken tenderloin strips with the buttermilk in a deep Pyrex bowl and season lightly with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate for several hours. When you are just about ready to cook, line a baking tray with parchment and preheat the oven to 400 degrees C.
Meanwhile, in another deep Pyrex bowl, combine the prepared cornflake crumbs with extra salt, pepper, paprika, chilli powder or cayenne pepper (if using) and Parmesan (if using). Dip each chicken tenderloin into the cornflake crumb mixture and pat gently to ensure that both sides are coated. Arrange each piece on the prepared baking tray.
Just before you pop the tray into the oven, give the chicken pieces a light spray with the olive oil. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Serve with a side salad. This quantity will serve 3-4.
* Use a food processor, or pour the cornflakes into a plastic bag and run a rolling pin over them. Note, Kellogg's Cornflakes are not gluten free, according to the label, so check the product you are buying if you require GF.
+ Use the remaining buttermilk to make featherlight scones. (Note these are not GF).
Your turn, dear readers. Have you ever soaked or brined chicken in buttermilk before cooking it? Is fried and/or crumbed chicken a favourite at your place? Please take a moment to leave me a comment. I would love to hear from you.
Hello. I'm Liz, a writer, cook and traveller based in Canberra, Australia.
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NB: I use Australian standard measuring cups and spoons in my recipes.