Cornflake-Crusted Baked Chicken

Cornflake-Crusted Baked Chicken. Sometimes I crave a good fried chicken. You know, the kind with the crunchy battered crust. I’ll be honest, I don’t remember the last time I had a good ‘ol fashioned fried chicken. Not the healthiest of things… but tasty-good nonetheless:). 
So I set out to mimic the fried chicken somewhat… I say somewhat, because I ended baking my chicken. I decided to use a cornflake-panko crust rather than a flour based, just so the crust would have that extra crunch. 
And even though I ended up using boneless chicken (it’s what I had in the house at the moment), I much prefer the bone-in chicken as it keeps the meat juicier and doesn’t dry out as fast. The boneless works too, though you’ll need to watch the baking time, so as not to over bake the chicken.
The spices were something I sort of grabbed from my pantry, but I loved the flavors. You can easily adjust the salt to  taste. I found the salt I used was minimal, but maybe it was better that way:).
While the fried chicken has a crispier topping, the baked version manages to get some crunch (from the cornflakes) without the need to fry. I ended up processing my cornflakes in the food processor… making the crumbs quite small…. letting the processor go too long(!). But if you just crush the cornflakes with a mallet, you’ll get a a more scraggly sort of crust with a bit more texture…. reminiscent of the fried version. It’s probably a better way to go about it:). 
Oh, and if you have a baking rack with large open grid space, use that instead…there will be more airflow around the chicken= crispier crust. It would be better than what I used:).  In any case, we enjoyed this somewhat healthier version… great with any sauce you like. Hope you enjoy…
Note: While this chicken is not gluten-free, you can opt to substitute the panko for extra cornflakes, or use a GF panko to make it  totally GF. 

Tip: You can make this ahead by marinating  the chicken in the buttermilk mixture… and combining the dry ingredients in a zipper-lock bag (all but the oil) the night before. When  ready to bake,  heat the oven, toss the crumb mixture with oil, coat the chicken, and bake.

You will need: 

6 chicken breasts (you can use bone-in, or even dark meat)
1 1/2 cup buttermilk (or milk and some plain yoghurt mixed)
2 1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
1/2 tsp pepper, or to taste
1/2 tsp hot smoked paprika, or to taste
2 tsps onion powder
2 1/2 cup corn flakes (I used unsweetened)
3/4 cup plain panko bread crumbs
1 tsp celery salt
1/2 tsp sweet paprika
1 tsp dried oregano
salt/pepper to taste
Moisten Crumbs with:
2 TBS oil
extra oil as needed to brush wire rack

1. Whisk buttermilk(or milk with yoghurt), salt, pepper,  paprika and onion powder  together in large bowl. Add chicken, turn to coat well, cover, and refrigerate at least  a few hours… preferably overnight. 
  • Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position
  •  Heat oven to 400 degrees F. 
  • Set wire rack on rimmed baking sheet and coat rack with oil.  (I used a broiler rack with minimal airflow, but if you have a traditional cooling type of rack with wide open grids, use that instead…  as you want to have enough airflow go around the chicken for maximum crispness)

1 Process  crumb mixture in a food processor for  just a few seconds…  until crumbs are  medium sized.

Note: I processed mine a bit much, made finer crumbs, but I think it would be better if cornflakes are crushed by hand and mixed with the rest of the ingredients to get a coarser crust. Though if you like a finer crumb, you may do as I did:)

If crushing corn flakes by hand,  place cornflakes in a ziploc bag and run a rolling pin gently over them, then mix the corn flakes, bread crumbs, and spices in a shallow dish until combined. 
2. Drizzle  2 TBS oil over crumbs and toss until well coated. 
3. Remove one piece of chicken at a time from marinade and dredge in crumb mixture, firmly pressing  the crumbs  to adhere on all sides of chicken. 
4. Place chicken on prepared  oiled rack… hopefully you have a better rack than I do:).  
5. Bake until chicken is deep golden brown, juices run clear 20-45 minutes or so…. just check because boneless chicken breast bakes quicker than bone-in or dark meat. Just try not to over bake and dry out the chicken.
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