In my recent Googlings (Hey, if “Google” is a verb, then I’m making “Googlings” a noun. #englishteacher #stillfollowinggrammarrules?), I noticed a few recipes for unconventional breadings for baked or sauteed chicken breasts. Like these gems:
This Goldfish Breaded Chicken from Just a Pinch.com looks crispy-crunchy-AMAZING. The idea of cheddar hints and goldfish goodness in a crackling chicken crust? Wowza. My only hesitation, though, was from a health standpoint. Those crackers, while half past incredibly tasty, aren’t necessarily the best thing for you. Could that affect the healthiness of this recipe, too?
Then, I saw this recipe for Pretzel Crusted Chicken from Make a Whisk.com. (The queen of Yum-o, Rachael Ray, also has a recipe here.) The pretzel-packed crust looks oh-so-delicioso, but on a random weeknight, I might not have pretzels on hand. And so, I kept searching, until I found …
Oatmeal-breaded chicken. I had no idea that you could take unassuming-little oatmeal — probably the unsung hero of the breakfast table, given its high fiber content and not-so-glamorous reputation — and bread chicken breasts with it. Or that the end result — my semi-concocted but pretty delicious Italian Oatmeal-Breaded Chicken — would be so good! Inspired by the wizards at Taste of Home and their recipe (among millions of others — check them out here. You won’t believe what a treasure trove it is.), here’s a healthy version of your favorite breaded chicken. I’d serve it with steamed or sauteed veggies, a side salad, and some kind of whole grain. (Brown rice is good; Lemon Pasta with whole-wheat spaghetti is even better.)
Italian Oatmeal-Breaded Chicken — serves 4; easily doubled or halved.
- 2 large chicken breasts, or 1 package of chicken tenders (around 1 lb)
- 1/2 to 1 cup wheat flour (all-purpose white is fine, too)
- 1 tsp garlic salt
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 1/2 to 2/3 cup light mayonnaise
- 1 clove of garlic, crushed in a garlic press
- 1 cup uncooked oatmeal (quick-cooking is fine, as is any other variety of oatmeal that you have on hand. Other than pre-flavored!)
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
- 1 tbsp dried basil
- 1 tbsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp dried parsley
- salt & pepper to taste
Here’s what you do:
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. Prepare a baking sheet with either a silicone mat or by spraying lightly with Pam or other cooking spray. Set aside.
- If using chicken breasts, dry them with a paper towel. Then, cut into tender-sized strips, about 1 inch in thickness. You should end up with around a dozen chicken “tenders.” If using pre-packaged tenders, simply open the package and dry with a paper towel.
- In a food processor, grind the oatmeal until it becomes a fine powder, or flour-like; if you don’t have a food processor, place the oatmeal in a plastic bag and “crush” using a meat tenderizer. If you end up with larger pieces of oatmeal, whatever. No biggie.
- In three separate bowls, arrange and mix your double-breading ingredients:
- Bowl 1: wheat flour, garlic salt and black pepper. Mix together lightly with a fork.
- Bowl 2: beaten egg, mayonnaise and garlic. Mix thoroughly with a fork or mini-whisk. (The mayo’s the trick; it keeps things super-moist.)
- Bowl 3: ground oatmeal, cheese, herbs, and extra salt & pepper to taste
- Double-bread each piece of chicken: First, dredge chicken in the flour mixture, shaking off the excess. Then, dip into the egg-mayonnaise mixture; you can use a pastry brush to help coat each piece if the mixture’s too thick. Finally, coat in the oatmeal-cheese-herb mixture, and set on the baking sheet. Repeat with each piece of chicken, arranging them 1-2 inches apart.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through and juices run clean. Optional: Broil for an additional 3-5 minutes if the coating isn’t browned to your liking.
The end result? Delicious. You can rest easy knowing you’ve had your breaded chicken without any of the “guilt.” I’d even serve this tasty dish over a salad, a bed of cooked spinach, or even cut into chunks and stirred into a tomato-based pasta sauce. Chicken-parm-pasta? Yes, please! Happy eating!
What are your favorite coatings for chicken? Anyone tried the goldfish or pretzel recipes, or even something else? (Say, oyster crackers? Saltines? Potato chips, even?) Let’s get creative, readers: What’s up your sleeves and in your recipes?