Recipe: Fried chicken from the oven, not drive-through

Popcorn chicken is a perfect snack — crunchy, bite-sized and seriously addictive. Too bad it's deep fried, or you could eat it all the time. Actually, you can. You just need to lose all the grease and saturated fat.

The key to this crunchy munchy miracle is an oven-frying technique that uses only a misting of oil to get a perfect golden crunch. You start with bite-sized chunks of boneless, skinless chicken breast, the same as most takeout restaurants.

The chicken pieces get coated in a zesty blend of Dijon mustard and fat-free egg whites. If you like, you could toss in some cayenne pepper or even your favorite blend of fried chicken seasonings.

The chicken chunks then get dredged in panko, a Japanese-style bread crumb that can be found in the Asian section of most grocers. Panko is made from bread with no crusts, so it has a lighter and crispier texture than traditional bread crumbs.

The final step before baking is to spritz the chicken with olive oil cooking spray, which will help brown and crisp the chicken.

This super-low-fat oven-frying method always yields golden, crunchy, guilt-free results. You also can use it to make healthy chicken nuggets and fingers, as well as crunchy chicken, pork or fish fillets.

Associated Press

BAKED POPCORN CHICKEN

Start to finish: 30 minutes (10 minutes active)

Servings: 8 (48 pieces total)

Olive oil cooking spray

2 large egg whites

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups panko (Japanese-style) bread crumbs

1 1/2 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch cubes

Heat the oven to 450 F. Coat a large baking sheet with cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg whites, mustard and salt. In a shallow bowl or pie plate, spread the panko.

Add the chicken pieces to the egg white mixture and toss to coat. A few pieces at a time, transfer the chicken to the bread crumbs and toss to thoroughly coat.

Transfer the breaded chicken pieces to the prepared baking sheet, arranging them close together but not touching. When all of the chicken pieces are on the baking sheet, spritz them lightly with cooking spray.

Bake for 15 minutes, then use a spatula or tongs to flip the chicken pieces. Continue baking until golden brown and no longer pink at the center, another 5 to 10 minutes. Serve hot.

Nutrition information per serving: 143 calories; 11 calories from fat; 1g fat (0g saturated; 0g trans fats); 49mg cholesterol; 10g carbohydrate; 22g protein; 0g fiber; 339mg sodium.

Recipe: Fried chicken from the oven, not drive-through 03/27/09 [Last modified: Friday, March 27, 2009 4:30am]

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