Southerners may grunt and grumble about the travesty of “fried” chicken not being cooked in big skillets of melted lard, but we’d bring this crispy, succulent bird to a church potluck in Savannah without batting an eye. A long soak in buttermilk spiked liberally with hot sauce both tenderizes and flavors the meat, while the spiced panko provides a layer of captivating crunch. We won’t go as far as to say you won’t taste the difference
(properly fried chicken has a depth of flavor that stretches straight to your soul), but we can say with confidence that this chicken hits the spot.
2 cups buttermilk
1⁄4 cup Frank’s Red Hot pepper sauce
1 lb chicken drumsticks and thighs
2 cups panko bread crumbs
1⁄2 tsp garlic salt
1⁄2 tsp smoked paprika
1⁄2 tsp salt
1⁄2 tsp black pepper
1⁄8 tsp cayenne
KFC Extra Crispy Thighs (2)
YOU SAVE 370 calories and 850 mg of sodium!
how to make it
Combine the buttermilk and hot sauce in a large bowl or a sealable plastic bag. Add the chicken and turn to coat. Cover the bowl or seal the bag and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour and up to 12.
Preheat the oven to 450°F. In a bowl, combine the bread crumbs with the spices. Working one piece at a time, remove the chicken from the buttermilk marinade and dip into the bread crumbs to thoroughly coat. (When breading food, it’s best to use one hand for the dry element and one for the wet.)
Place the breaded chicken on a nonstick baking sheet. Bake for about 20 minutes, until browned and crisp on the outside and cooked all the way through.
Better Bread Crumbs
No matter how little oil they absorb, bread crumbs are always empty calories, but breading on meat and fish doesn’t need to be a total nutritional zero. Nuts make a perfect crunchy breading for chicken and fish fillets, coating them in a crunchy sheath rich in fiber and healthy fat. Almonds, pecans, and pine nuts make for the best coasting. Simply drop them in a food processor and blend until finely chopped.