Coca-Cola Brined Baked Not Fried Chicken

IMG_20150201_180726I took a few liberties with Chef John Currence’s recipe from his book “Pigs, Pickles & Whiskey” for Coca Cola Brined Fried Chicken. First, I put in some rosemary instead of the thyme. Then, because yesterday was Superbowl Sunday and I wanted to watch the game, not stand over hot grease, I changed up his batter and baked the chicken instead.

This is one of the few times that I will actually use Panko bread crumbs for the added crunch. I brined the chicken in the morning and then coated it and put the pan in the refrigerator until game time. I pulled it out while preheating the oven and started it cooking before the first play and I had chicken for dinner at halftime that I ate off my Coca-Cola TV tray.

To kick this dish up a notch without adding many more calories, add some grated Parmesan or pecorino Romano into the bread crumbs. About 2 tablespoons should give you a rich cheesy flavor in your crust.

Coca-Cola Brine

1 chicken, cut into 8 pieces
3 cups Coca-cola (two 12 oz cans), room temperature
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons Louisiana hot sauce (more to taste)
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, roughly chopped

Mix all ingredients very well and brine chicken for 2 hours.

Baked Not Fried Chicken

2 cups all purpose flour
3 teaspoons Kosher salt
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon cayenne
½ teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 eggs
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups Panko breadcrumbs

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with heavy-duty aluminum foil. Place a cooling rack over pan.

Season the flour with the next 6 ingredients. Place in a pie plate or shallow dish. In another dish, scramble the eggs with the olive oil. Place the breadcrumbs in another pie plate.

Remove the chicken from the brine, rinse and pat dry. Dredge the chicken through the flour, then the egg mixture and finally in the breadcrumbs, patting to make sure the coating has adhered. Set on rack in pan. For additional crisping, lightly spray the chicken with cooking spray.

Bake for 30-45 minutes, or until chicken is golden brown and cooked all the way through (165 degrees F on a meat thermometer). Serve immediately.

Chocolate Pistachio Saltine Toffee

covered in chocolate and pistachiosI’ve got a powerful chocolate and salt craving and decided to go back to my old Girl Scout recipe and kick it up a notch. Here is another version I do that uses corn syrup and doesn’t require moving a pan filled with melted butter and sugar into the oven. That recipe uses pecans but feel free to substitute slivered almonds or any other nut.


Chocolate Pistachio Saltine Toffee

About 40 saltine crackers (a sleeve and a half or whatever amount it takes to cover your baking sheet)
4 sticks (2 cups) butter
2 cups light brown sugar
12 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
6 ounces roasted pistachios, chopped

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Line 1 large baking sheet with aluminum foil (don’t skip this step, unless you want to try and get the finished product out of the pan with a chisel and a bucket of elbow grease). Arrange the saltines salt-side down in a single layer. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter and brown sugar together and boil until it turns a caramel color, a few minutes. Remove from the heat and pour over the crackers, covering them evenly. It helps to put the pan on a pulled out oven rack so all you have to do is slide it in and not transport the delicious napalm across the kitchen.

pan in oven

Bake for 5 minutes, or until just bubbly. Remove from the oven and distribute the chocolate chips over the crackers. When the chips melt a bit, spread them over the crackers with a knife. Sprinkle the pistachios over the top.

Transfer the pan to the freezer for 15 to 20 minutes, or until completely cold. They will form one big sheet. Break up into pieces. Store in an airtight container.