It’s been a bit of a week on the diet front, where various employment obligations and personal weaknesses have meant living off of a staple feed of severely low effort food that was either cooked by someone else or merely assembled then covered with cheese in my kitchen. I’ve been busy and knackered and in no mood to cook. The trouble is that endless late nights and refined carbohydrates do nothing to improve one’s energy levels or motivation to rustle up a salad.
Having punctuated various takeaways and pizza based entities with too many pints of real ale and a tub of brownie bites since Monday, this blogger kicked off the weekend with something of a delayed and cumulative food hangover. It is a weird thing to crave cucumber and peaches on a Saturday morning, and a disheartening thing to be bloated to the point of your fail safe summer shorts almost refusing to do up.
It is still the weekend, however, and a Saturday dinner was required and here was a perfect opportunity to fall back on what is basically fake Southern Fried Chicken as a treat for tea that wasn’t going to require any further damage control on the waistline. By removing that whole pesky deep frying issue and swapping out the buttermilk soak one can seriously bring the fat content down without losing too much satisfaction. It also lends itself very nicely to being dished up with a big pile of veg to replenish one’s mass lack of fibre after a week of gastro pubs and Just Eat clicks. It doesn’t taste even remotely Diety either so will work well if you have guests who aren’t on the same low calorie wagon as you. In fact, this is a good recipe for those who don’t have a deep fat fryer, or hate cleaning it.
Weight Watchers can see a chicken breast done in this method coming in at a maximum 4 smartpoints, vs 7 or 8 for a traditionally done Southern Fried portion. It is relatively speedy and fuss free to cook and lends itself very well to slimming friendly sides, by which I mostly mean vegetables. Dear God, I need the vegetables!!!!
Boomboom Fake Fried Chicken
4 chicken breasts
2-3 tablespoons hot sauce
75 ml unsweetened almond milk
3 heaped tablespoons plain flour
Garlic powder, celery salt, ground coriander, paprika, chilli powder, black pepper, salt
Oil/cooking spray for frying
Start by beating the egg with the almond milk, hot sauce and a pinch of salt then pour this over the chicken breasts and leave to marinate for 2-4 hours, covered in the fridge.
When ready to cook, put the oven on at 190 degrees C and line a sturdy baking tray with some greaseproof paper. Mix the flour and spices well and put into a large, flat dish. You will want to play with the spice mix to your own taste but I find a flat mix of 1/2 a tsp of all the listed spices works well enough to please most diners without being too hot. I must admit that if it just me and the Mr I go considerably heavier on the chilli powder and also the hot sauce in the marinade too.
Remove the chicken from the egg mix and roll well in the flour and spices to cover the entire surface. You only need to do this once, even if you are used to layering up when making this recipe traditionally.
Heat a shallow saucepan with a small amount of oil (your choice, I like rapeseed) and fry the chicken for about 90 seconds on each side. The pan needs to be hot enough to sizzle as soon as the meat goes in and you cook it just long enough to seal the meat and see the flour coating to start to colour. Transfer the meat then to the baking tray and cook in the oven, it should take roughly 25 minutes.
It’s that simple, just serve! For a southern style feast I like to dish it up with more hot sauce, corn on the cob and a good number of pickles.
Variations- play with heat levels by adding more chilli and paprika to the spice mix or add some oats or linseeds to the dry mix for some texture. You could use legs/thighs etc however if you are points or calorie counting then you need to account for this due to higher fat content. The coating also works really well on cauliflower for the veggies amoung us-just cut up the florets and dip in the egg mix (don’t marinate) then roll in flour and bake at 180 for about 20 minutes.