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Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Crispy Cheddar Baked Chicken

I've been taking a lot more short cuts on my cooking the past few weeks. I'm using more packaged and canned foods and I've even resorted to fast food several times just because I didn't feel like cooking. I don't know if it's just being extra tired or not in the mood but I think I may have finally broken out of the funk I've been in.

I decided to have new recipe night a day early this week. I did this for two reasons. The first is that Nana has family coming in from out of town. Grandpa's sister and brother-in-law will be staying with her tomorrow night so we're all getting together at Nana's and ordering pizza. The second is that I couldn't wait to try this chicken.

This is a baked fried chicken (also known as "oven-fried") so it has very little oil in it. It still gets crispy in the oven and the cheese gets crunchy around the edges as it browns. And the best thing about oven-fried chicken is that there's no need to stand over the stove keeping an eye on the chicken leaving you free to work on your sides while it cooks.

The recipe made more chicken than I had anticipated. I had almost 1 3/4 lbs of chicken tenders but I still only used half the amount of breading from the original recipe. Aaron and I ate about 4 pieces each and we still had 4 pieces leftover. (Bailey turned her nose up at it but she ate plenty of apple slices, frozen peas, and cheese cubes plus a cup of yogurt so I'm not too worried about it.)

The breading is a mixture of Ritz cracker crumbs and shredded cheddar cheese and the sauce is a little doctored up cream of chicken soup and it went nicely on the mashed potatoes as a kind of gravy. You could definitely make your own homemade cream of chicken soup but I chose to go the easy route tonight since I was also busy working on the potatoes while it cooked.

Before I get to the recipe I would like to note that I misread the recipe as I was cooking and breaded it backwards. I will give the instructions here as I actually made it tonight and if you'd like the original recipe just click the link where it says "Source:" to be redirected to the original blog post. Next time I make this I'll try it the right way and if it's better or easier I'll probably post an update.

Crispy Cheddar Baked Chicken

Source: adapted from Jamie Cooks it Up

1 1/2-2 lbs chicken tenders (could also use chicken breasts cut into 2-3 pieces each)
1 sleeve Ritz crackers
1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
salt and pepper
dried parsley
1/2 cup milk
1 can cream of chicken soup
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp sour cream

Begin by crushing the crackers into fairly fine crumbs. You could use a food processor but I did just fine with a plastic bag and a rolling pin and I think the larger crumbs added some nice texture to the breading. Season the crumbs with salt and pepper and place them in a shallow bowl.

Line a large baking sheet with foil and spray it with vegetable oil spray. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Set up your assembly line. In whichever direction you generally work you'll want your chicken, the milk in a bowl, the cracker crumbs, another shallow bowl with the cheddar cheese, and your prepared baking dish.

Dip each piece of chicken in the milk. Coat it in the cracker crumbs and shake off the excess. Now comes the tricky part. Press the cheese into the chicken. It won't exactly stick to it like the cracker crumbs but it will stick a little. If you can only get it to stick to one side place that side down on the baking sheet and sprinkle some cheese on top. Lay each piece out on the baking sheet.

Once all of the pieces are coated sprinkle them with parsley and place the baking sheet in the preheated oven and bake at 400 degrees for 30-35 minutes.

While the chicken cooks prepare the sauce by combining the cream of chicken soup, butter, and sour cream in a small saucepan. Heat over low to medium-low heat, stirring frequently until it is heated through. If it gets too thick you can thin it with a splash of milk.

When the chicken is cooked through and the cheese is nicely browned remove it from the oven.

Spoon the sauce over the top and serve warm.

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