This is basically a massive cheat for anyone looking for a bit of Anglo-Tex-Mex in their lives. But it's brilliant and incredibly tasty and doesn't feel or taste like a cheat.
Using thigh meat for this, instead of breast meat, and then the fry/bake method reduces both the time and hassle involved in making a normal flat chicken/chicken schnitzel thing. But it also means that the chicken doesn't dry out, because thigh meat has more ballast.
The great thing about this is that you can prepare it ahead by doing the frying-off in advance and then the final bake before you dish up.
Don't be put off by the use of garlic granules - they might sound like an abomination, but once cooked off they're really tasty and fabulous.
This will feed 2 hungry people for dinner with a side salad, or 4 people with an extra side, such as macaroni cheese or some short corns on the cob. Yee haw!
Esther's quick southern chicken
4 skinned thigh fillets
3 slices of bread, any sort except rye bread, crumbed
2 tablespoons of medium matzoh meal (not essential)
3/4 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon mild chilli powder
1 tablespoon garlic granules (availble from Waitrose, you can also use onion powder)
2 dried chillies, crumbled (not essential either)
Some flour for dredging
2 eggs, beaten
vegetable or groundnut oil for frying
You could also throw in some black pepper, if you wanted, or cumin or cayenne pepper.
Pre-heat your oven to 180C
1 Unfold your chicken thighs and with a sharp knife slice them at a 45 degree angle on the horizontal (does that make sense?) until you've got 2-3 pieces out of each thigh. Each piece of chicken ought to be no more than about 4in x 2.5in. Some little ones are fine.
2 Assemble your crumb mixture by putting the breadcrumbs and all spices into a bowl and mixing round.
3 Dredge each piece of chicken in flour, then the beaten egg and then in the breadcrumbs. It'll get messy. Some people swear by doing that thing of putting the dredging stuff in a freezer bag and then putting the meat in and squishing round. I think this actually makes the mess worse - but do it however you fancy. It's your dinner.
4 Heat up your veg oil - about 1cm deep - to a medium heat in a shallow pan. Bear in mind frying in veg oil can make your house stink and ruin everything, so take the precaution of putting on the extractor fan in advance of frying and if there's a door to your kitchen, close it and plug the gap underneath with tea towels. I also keep a see-through lid on my frying pan when I'm doing this.
Fry off your chicken pieces in batches. They won't need more than about 2-3 mins each side, just to get a bit of colour and oil on them. There should be a modest amount of bubbling happening at the edges of the pieces of chicken, but not violent deep-frying. If you see blue smoke, your oil is too hot.
5 Once all the chicken pieces have been fried off, arrange on a baking sheet then bung in the oven for 25 minutes.
Even though a really nice man in Hampstead fixed my good camera yesterday, I was too excited about eating this to run upstairs and get it, so I took a really shite picture with my little camera:
Sorry. But you get the idea. We were watching Zen on the V+ if you're interested.