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Food

4 easy steps to oven-fried hot chicken

Panko crumbs give oven-fried chicken extra crunch.
Panko crumbs give oven-fried chicken extra crunch.
(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)

The first day I met Jenn Harris, my #LAfriedchickenqueen colleague, I promised to take her to my favorite fried chicken shop in L.A. Broaster Kitchen in Montebello is my go-to for shatteringly crisp chicken. The secret to its chicken — which Harris and I ate for a recent episode of Bucket List — are its broaster machines, which simultaneously deep-fry and pressure-cook the chicken to maximize crunch and juiciness.

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Since we home cooks do not have pressure fryers in our kitchens and deep-frying is the sort of thing that’s a deal-breaker for many (it takes a lot of oil, spatters hard-to-clean greasy grime and is a mess to clean up), I turn to oven frying in times of crisp chicken need.

It’s not the same but it comes close, especially if you’re making Nashville-style hot chicken. The final drizzle of oil seasons and spices the crust and hits with the same satisfying wallop as the original.

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Oven-Fried Nashville-Style Hot Chicken

Time 55 minutes
Yields Serves 6 to 8

To nail the other hallmarks of hot chicken, I’ve come up with four workarounds that will give you an easy weeknight crunchy chicken dinner:

  1. Use only drumsticks. The meat stays juicy even in the dry heat of the oven.
  2. Substitute a short mayonnaise marinade for a longer buttermilk one. Mayo not only helps glue on the crumb coating, it keeps the meat tender.
  3. Boost the taste and texture of the crumb coating. I combine spices and Parmesan with panko. Cheese may seem unlikely in fried chicken, but here, it acts as an umami boost while helping the crumbs brown. Panko offers the most crunch of all the supermarket crumb options, but the pieces are a bit large to mimic flour-coated fried chicken. To achieve a similar crust, break the panko into even smaller bits by rubbing them between your fingers or pulsing in a food processor.
  4. Bake the chicken on a wire rack. Elevating the chicken allows the heat to circulate around it, crisping the crumbs on all sides. Because nobody wants soggy-bottomed fried chicken.
A metal cooling rack works well here.
A metal cooling rack works well here.
(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)

As with any hot chicken, the spice oil makes or breaks it. Kim Prince of Hotville Chicken in Los Angeles, a member of the Prince family that operates Nashville’s original hot chicken restaurant, says, “The goal is to make the spice oil flavorful — not just hot. You don’t need to try to figure out the original spice recipe from Prince’s or any other place. Just find the spices that work.”

The end result is hot chicken that’s as good right out of the oven as it is the next day cold from the fridge. If you’re afraid of spicy heat and just want a solid oven-fried chicken recipe, use a mild hot sauce in the mayo mix and eliminate the cayenne.


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