Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Cornbread Chicken

So a while ago I mentioned on Twitter that I was playing around with ideas for breading.  I've been using dry coatings, like flour and breadcrumbs, which work, but don't quite achieve the restaurant quality I've been looking for.   So I've been looking at wet batters...  and this time I used cornbread!

There were a few ideas for breaded-and-fried chicken that I had... mostly based around a stuffed chicken breast.  But this experiment was on the batter...  working on a good filling recipe!  So I decided to go with chicken fingers with dipping sauce.

Those of you in the mood to have some messy fun will love this one... Have some water nearby, your hands will get sticky and covered...

I cooked up about a pound of chicken, which was the perfect amount for a box of cornbread.  In fact, this yielded more than I expected...  2 huge portions or 3 good size portions.  Leftovers for me!  This is an easy recipe to adjust, just put in less/more flour and cornbread mix.

That's all you really need for this...  your cornbread mix will probably require milk and/or an egg so have that on hand...

To begin, you need to flatten the chicken.  In retrospect, I didn't pound it enough... the thinner pieces battered and fried much better.  If you have thick fillets, butterfly them and keep pounding.  When they're nice and flat, cut them into 1-inch wide strips.  Or any shape, really.  Some of the nugget-size end pieces fried up real good!

Now that's a Chicken Nugget!
Your hands are going to get sticky with flour, so I suggest mixing up the cornbread now.  Follow the directions on the box...  most mixes require an egg and milk.  You'll want to add in about an extra quarter-to-half cup of milk or water to thin the batter...  otherwise it gets stiff and unmanageable.  Mix in about 2 tbsp of sugar also.  Stir 'till mixed and put aside.  You'll want to prepare your frying pan too...  pour in enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan. 

Next, roll the pieces in flour.  I suggest inside a bowl or tray.  Make sure they're covered thoroughly and put them to the side.  When you are done, you're ready for the really messy part.  First, turn the heat on under the frying pan about halfway.

It's like they're going swimming...
Place the floured pieces in the bowl of cornbread mix, a few at a time.  Stir them around with a fork... but then use your hands to make sure each piece is saturated in batter.  With the fork, scoop out each piece, let it drip over the bowl, then place into the frying pan.  Repeat until the pan is full.  Now is a good time to wash your hands.

And now they're drowning...  Yum!..
Monitor the heat on the frying pan... I found 6/10 to be about the right heat.  Each side takes about 4 minutes.  You'll know its time to flip when the edges start looking crispy and brown... similar to the edge of a pancake.  The fork should work fine for flipping so long as you don't overfill the pan.

When you are done frying, fork out each piece and place on a paper towel on a plate.  Pour in some more oil between each skillet of chicken.
Some of the bigger pieces...

And there you have it!  Serve with your favorite sauce - I suggest something sweet like Honey Mustard or Barbecue or Sweet & Sour.  And choose a side dish.  You'll need some veggies to ease the guilt of this fried goodness.  I made broccoli and cheese.  Mmm, I can just taste the heart attack!

Other than using smaller pieces, there isn't much I would do differently for next time.  I still want to try a stuffed chicken recipe though... trying to decide between Spinach and Feta, Broccoli and Cheddar, or Cream Cheese and Bacon or Jalapeno.  Or any other crazy combination...  If you give me a good idea I'll give you a shoutout!

Happy eating!

*note:  tried a cold one for breakfast.  awesome!

*note2:  When cutting the chicken, make sure you trim as much fat possible.  Chunks of fat tend to mess with the texture...


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