All this time I thought the old cornflake chicken recipe was kind of kitschy, and it turns out that everybody from Trisha Yearwood to Martha Stewart is proudly preparing the dish before the cameras. My grandmother's version was simplicity itself - she melted margarine, dipped the chicken in the margarine, then the crumbs, and put the chicken on a baking sheet and into the oven. When it was done, the cornflakes were buttery and crispy and the chicken was moist and sweet. When I make it, as I have over the years, I usually marinate the chicken in some Italian dressing, or a combination of melted butter and orange juice, and I also add some herbs to the crumbs.
Clearly I can never leave well enough alone. I told you I'd tampered with the Neely's recipe, and I wasn't kidding. I'm making this homey old standby exotic, and no one, not even Martha Stewart, has gone where I'm about to go.
Not My Grandma's Cornflake Chicken
Bobby Deen, Paula's younger son, carved out a specialty cooking zone for himself with "Not My Mama's Meals" by cutting down the fat and calories associated with his mother's brand of southern cooking. I decided to call this "Not My Grandma's Cornflake Chicken" because my recipe incorporates spices that never saw the inside of my grandmother's pantry. So to start, you will need to whip up a batch of my version of Steven Raichlan's Jamaican Jolt Dry Rub. You can cut this in half, which is what I do, and store it in a screw top jar in your spice cabinet.
Jamaican Jolt Dry Rub for those with a delicate palate:
2/3 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup kosher salt
1/4 cup freeze dried chives
2 tablespoons coarse black pepper
2 tablespoons onion powder
2 tablespoons granulated garlic
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
1 tablespoon dried thyme
2 1/2 teaspoons ground allspice
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons dried ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 whole cut up chicken, 3 - 4 1/2 pounds (I like to cross cut each breast into two pieces)
Jamaican Jolt Dry Rub, recipe above
1 quart of buttermilk
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons Crystal hot sauce
1/2 large sweet onion, sliced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups crushed corn flakes
3/4 cup grated Romano cheese
Next day: Place the onion slices and smashed garlic pieces over the chicken. and season with the salt, pepper, thyme and granulated garlic. Mix together buttermilk, lemon juice, and hot sauce, and pour over all. Cover and place in the refrigerator for 3 hours or up 12 hours.
About 90 minutes before serving, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Fit a sheet tray with a wire rack and spray with nonstick cooking spray.
Remove chicken from the marinade, letting the excess drip off, and dredge through the cornflake-Parmesan mixture, pressing to help it adhere. Discard the marinade.
My opinion - very tasty and tender, and the crumb coating is nice and crunchy. Next time though, I want to try drizzling melted butter instead of spraying with olive oil before baking.