Spicy Oven-Fried Chicken

There’s something about the food our parents make us that just makes it taste better. I always feel a little nervous about trying to make recipes I grew up with, convinced they’ll never come out as good in my very own grown-up kitchen.
But I missed this oven-fried chicken too much not to try.
My mom first tried out this recipe in my early teen years after finding it in an issue of Bon Appetit (which we got almost all my life–she’s got all the Thanksgiving and Christmas issues back through the early 90s cataloged–and which I now subscribe to myself). This was a time when she was very interested in experimenting in the kitchen; I have fond memories of lots of baking in our then-new KitchenAid mixer from my dad, and some not-so-fond memories of a very lemony lemon risotto, in the days before I loved lemon. But this chicken was a huge success, and quickly became something I requested regularly. When I was in college, it joined the ranks with my dad’s meat sauce and real pizza and bagels on the list of things I had to have when I came home for breaks.
It’s really just some of the best chicken I’ve ever had. A long bath in hot sauce-tinged buttermilk makes it incredibly moist with just enough spice to leave your lips with a slight tingle at the end of the meal, and the drizzle of just a little butter over the top of each piece before baking makes the crust incredibly crisp without using up gallons of oil that inevitably would splatter all over your kitchen if you actually fried the chicken.
Plus, your entire apartment will smell like thyme and butter while it’s baking. If that’s not a comforting smell, I don’t know what is.

This recipe is pretty simple, but it’s definitely one to make on the weekend: you’re going to need at least three hours for the chicken to marinate, and it also has to sit for another 30 minutes before it goes in the oven, so plan accordingly. It looks like there’s a lot of spice in the marinade, but don’t worry–it won’t set your mouth on fire.

Spicy Oven-Fried Chicken (adapted slightly from Bon Appetit)
For the marinade:
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons sriracha or hot sauce
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard (I used honey mustard because that was what I had)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 onion, sliced
1 chicken, cut up (mine was 8 pieces)

In a large bowl, whisk together all ingredients through pepper until well combined. Add onion and chicken and toss to coat. Cover with plastic wrap or foil and let marinate in the fridge for at least three hours and up to one day, stirring and moving everything around once an hour or so.

For the coating, after chicken has marinated:
1 cup breadcrumbs (feel free to mix in a little panko, but regular works best here)
1/3 cup grated Parmesan
1/4 cup flour
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Line two baking sheets with foil and place metal cooling racks on top. In a wide bowl, mix together everything but the butter. Take chicken out of its bowl one at a time, let excess marinade drip off, and coat evenly and completely in breadcrumb mixture. Place on rack skin side up and continue with remaining chicken. Let sit for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Drizzle butter over chicken and bake for 50 minutes, or until cooked through. Let sit 5 minutes and serve with anything, because it goes with everything.

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