A few days ago I stumbled upon a manger's special on bone-in chicken thighs as my local supermarket. I scored a ten-pack of hefty sized thighs for only $4. I've noticed that chicken prices have gone up at many places I shop, so that's a great deal for me.
I used to avoid bone-in chicken because it required so much prep work.
First removing the skin, then cutting off extra fat and any unsavory looking parts. If I was interrupted or had to multi-task, I'd have to wash my hands for what felt like a million times. (I'm pretty paranoid about ecoli/salmonella).
Now, I don't mind it so much. I clear a space, make sure I have no distractions and hover over the trash can for 20-30 minutes, snipping precisely with kitchen shears.
When I finished beautifying the chicken, I bagged and froze four thighs to use for homemade chicken stock, but wasn't sure how to cook the other eight pieces. I probably should have perused some of my favorite food blogs, but I felt lazy and simply googled chicken thigh recipes.
That's when I stumbled upon an oven-fried chicken thigh recipe that called for panko crumbs and parmesan. I've been cooking panko-crusted chicken strips for awhile, but only use egg as the wet mixture before I dip it into the crumbs.
This recipe called for lots of butter, spicy mustard and maple syrup instead.
Sounded like a winner to me.
And it was.
It yielded the moistest chicken thighs I've ever eaten—no joke.
However, the crust was not as crispy as I expected. My panko-crusted chicken tenders always turn out crunchy, so I know the ratio of wet to dry is too high.
I blame it on the butter. Even though I subbed nutritional yeast (a dry ingredient) for the parmesan (a slightly moist ingredient) the coating didn't crispen fully.
Next time I will cut the butter in half, maybe even omit it, just to see if it yields a crispier "fried" texture. Even though the original recipe was masquerading as a fried chicken when it really wasn't, I still loved it.
Like I said above, it's ridiculously moist and flavorful. I ate the leftovers two days later and the crust was a tiny bit soggier, but the mustard/maple/nutritional yeast/herb flavor was even more pronounced.
It's also mentionable that substituted nutritional yeast instead of the parmesan cheese.
Never heard of it?
Nutritional yeast is an inactive, vegetarian food yeast popular amongst vegans. It typically comes in large yellow flakes and is sold in the dry or bulk goods section of natural foods stores. It tastes cheesy and nutty, which is why many vegans use it as a cheese substitute.
As an added bonus, a two tablespoon serving contains eight grams of protein, four grams of fiber and is a complete protein. It's low in calories, sodium and sugar.
Plus, the cheesy taste is a lot stronger than parmesan, which is why I prefer it in recipes like my roasted purple cauliflower. Not to mention the higher protein count (one of my favorite things).
I feel a little bad introducing nutritional yeast in a post with a meat recipe, but hopefully this illustrates the ingredient's versatility. Meat-eaters, vegetarians and vegans can all taken advantage of the benefits and immense flavor.
Panko & Nutritional Yeast Crusted Oven-Baked Chicken Thighs
Adapted from Oven Fried Chicken Thighs With Panko and Parmesan
Panko crumbs seasoned with cheesy nutritional yeast, garlic and paprika give these thighs a slightly crunchy texture. Underneath the crust is a mixture of butter, spicy mustard, maple syrup and more garlic, which keeps the chicken super moist and flavorful during baking. A healthier and equally tasty alternative to fried chicken.
8 bone-in chicken thighs, skin and fat removed
5 tablespoons melted butter (this is my favorite brand)
3 tablespoons spicy jalapeno mustard
2 teaspoons real maple syrup
3/4 teaspoon garlic powder, divided+ extra sprinkled on chicken pieces
1 1/4 cups panko crumbs
1/3 cup nutritional yeast flakes
1 teaspoon high quality sea salt + extra sprinkled on chicken pieces
1 teaspoon cracked black pepper + extra sprinkled on chicken pieces
1/2 teaspoon of paprika
Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Cover a large roasting or sheet pan with foil and coat with non-stick spray. Remove the skin and extra fat from chicken thighs. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Melt butter in microwave then combine with mustard, real maple syrup, and 1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder in a small bowl. In another bowl, mix panko crumbs, nutritional yeast, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, paprika, salt, and pepper. Dip each thigh into the wet mixture then press each side firmly into the dry mixture, turning several times to coat the chicken thoroughly. Repeat with each chicken thigh, then place on the pan. Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through. Turn chicken halfway through. In the last few minutes of cooking time, place the chicken under the broiler to brown and crisp the tops.
Notes & Tips
For a crispier crust, use only 1-2 tablespoons of butter.
These can also be made into dipped chicken tenders. Cook sliced boneless skinless chicken breasts at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes.
More Chicken Recipes From The Rising Spoon:
- Rosemary Roasted Chicken Thighs
- Cast-Iron Baked Peach Chicken
- Peruvian Roasted Chicken with Sweet Peppers & Onions
- Lemony Garlic Baked Chicken Thighs with New Potatoes and Onions
Question for discussion: What's your favorite technique for achieving crispy "oven-fried" chicken?
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