Southern Unfried Chicken

Over the years I've thumbed through Art Smith's cookbooks but have always found them too "southern comfort foody" for me. You know... lots of fried stuff and biscuits and gravy, with all the fixin's piled on top to boot. Don't get me wrong: I love comfort food just like the next girl but my body doesn't need to be hanging onto the remnants of it for months to come. So when the latest issue of Runner's World arrived in the mail last week, I was surprised to see Art profiled inside--and proudly showing off his recent 120-pound weight loss as well. After being diagnosed with type-2 diabetes, he revamped his diet, took up walking and then running, and is now a marathoner. Totally impressive. He also insists that his new eating plan doesn't mean salads every night, but instead he's found ways to rework his old faves into healthier options.

Given that I've never made actual fried chicken before, and wouldn't be likely to either (too much mess and too greasy for our tastes), I loved his unfried option of soaking the chicken in a marinade of creamy buttermilk and hot sauce for a few hours, coating it in panko and then baking it instead. And we all loved it. Completely moist but crispy and only 320 calories and 7 grams of fat per serving.

Southern Unfried Chicken
serves 4

1 cup buttermilk
2-3 tsp hot sauce
4 skinless chicken breasts
1 1/2 cups panko bread crumbs
3 tbsp parmesan
1 1/2 tsp onion powder
1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
1-2 tsp black pepper
1-2 tsp hot red pepper
1 tsp paprika

In a bowl, combine buttermilk and hot sauce. Soak chicken breasts in the buttermilk marinade for at least 1 hour and up to 24 hours. In the meantime, combine the panko, parmesan and the rest of the spices in a large ziplock bag. Shake to blend. Using tongs, remove the chicken from the marinade and place directly in the bag. Shake well, until the chicken is evenly coated with bread crumbs. Remove from the bag and lay flat on a sheet pan. Allow to chill uncovered in the fridge for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and then bake for 35 to 40 minutes.

Rest of the week

Sept 24 Ecuadorian theme dinner party at our friends' place; responsible for appetizers so we made ceviche and guacamole

Sept 25 Ate at Fran's before seeing Kathy Griffin (omg so funny and so offensive all at the same time)

Sept 26 Unfried chicken with salad and roasted broccoli