By Cat, Nov 2011 (Photo, right, from Wikimedia Commons)
This is a very simple recipe with wonderful taste. Back when I discovered this recipe in a 1970s diet cookbook, it was included as a low-fat oven-‘fried’ chicken. And in some ways it reminds me of fried chicken, but there is no crisp batter coating, just pure chicken goodness with savory herbs and spices. I’ve long since lost that cookbook so cannot site the source, but I’ve modified it over the years anyway.
It is one of my favorite quick ways to prepare chicken, and is also delicious cold. It is baked in the oven, but on a hot summer day, you could grill it.
Baked Savory Chicken Pieces
This recipe uses Mrs. Dash Original, a mix of dried herbs and spices with no added salt or MSG. It’s one of the few ‘processed’ foods I use in my kitchen. (Photo, left, from Wikimedia Commons png file, which I converted to jpg file for this blog)
DO NOT remove the skin from the chicken pieces; without it, the meat would dry out and you’d not get much paprika flavor, because paprika requires fat to activate its flavors. I used to use sweet paprika but I’ve recently discovered smoked paprika so use that sometimes for a change of pace.
I usually bake the chicken in my oven (using a broiler pan so the chicken doesn’t cook in its drippings), but in the summer I sometimes cook it on my grill. Another option is to cut up some carrots and other veggies, scatter them over the bottom of a baking pan, then place the chicken pieces on top of the veggies, to bake in the oven, then eat the veggies, now flavored with the delicious drippings.
I highly recommend brining the chicken pieces, especially breasts, as they tend to dry out during baking if not brined. I brine all pieces. See Brining Chicken for details.
I usually serve this with steamed or boiled red or gold potatoes in winter, or steamed fresh corn-on-the-cob in summer, but another winter option is Potatoes Dauphinoise (au Gratin). The potatoes bake at a lower temperature (275° – 300°F) than the chicken, so I start the potatoes about an hour before the chicken, then raise the oven to 350°F for the chicken, and cover the potatoes with foil so they won’t burn, to cook at the higher temperature for about 15 minutes until they are done. I keep the potatoes warm by leaving the foil in place while they rest in a warm spot (on an unlit burner of my pilot-lit stove) while the chicken bakes. Or you can reheat the potatoes just before serving.
Ingredients & Equipment:
- Meaty pieces (thigh, drumstick, breasts) from one whole or cut up chicken. OR 8 – 10 bone-in & skin-on chicken thighs or 4 breast halves.
- 3 or more cloves garlic or commercial garlic powder
- freshly grated zest of 1 or more lemons (optional)
- sweet or smoked paprika powder
- ‘Mrs. Dash’ Original Blend seasoning (or use your own mix of fresh or dried herbs)
- Unrefined sea salt and fresh-ground black pepper, to taste
- Grater (for lemon zest)
- Broiler pan or covered grill
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- If using chicken breasts, it is best to brine them first; this helps them to retain moisture. You can also brine other pieces. Refer to How to Brine Chicken for instructions.
- Meanwhile, finely mince the garlic, sprinkle with ¼ tsp salt, then crush to a paste with the blade of a chef’s knife. Rub over chicken pieces. OR, if you plan to use lemon zest: mince garlic and add to lemon zest in a mortar. Sprinkle salt and paprika over the minced garlic, and grind with pestle to a paste; rub over chicken pieces. OR in a pinch, you could sprinkle the pieces with garlic powder.
- Arrange pieces, skin-side down, on broiler pan or on top of a layer of veggies. Season with salt and pepper (avoid salt on any brined pieces), garlic powder (if using), and paprika (if not ground with garlic). Turn pieces over (skin-up) and repeat. Then sprinkle Mrs Dash (or your own herb mix) over all.
- Bake: Place in oven and bake, skin-side up, about 25 minutes. Turn pieces over (skin down) and bake another 20 minutes. Turn again (skin up) and finish cooking until meat is tender, about 15 – 20 minutes; total time 60 – 65 min. Internal temperature (breast or thigh, not touching bone) should be 165° – 170°F (1).
- Or grill: Season pieces on both sides, then place them skin-side down on grill over hot zone. Cover and cook until nicely browned and easily release from the grates, 10 – 15 minutes (the cooking time is a guess; I’ve not tried this yet). Watch carefully; if a flare-up occurs, move the chicken away from the flames until they die down. You can also squirt the flames with a little water to quench them.