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This Oven-Fried Chicken Is Crispy, Craggy, and Mess-Free

And all you need is a cast-iron skillet.

Published Dec. 29, 2021.

Deep frying strikes fear into even the most experienced home cooks. Many people are firmly in the camp of saving french fries, doughnuts, and fried chicken for eating from a restaurant in order to avoid the stress of cleaning up splatters, disposing of used frying oil (although it can be reused in some cases), and a lingering oil smell in their home. 

But what if we told you we had a way to deliver the crispy, craggy pleasure of freshly fried chicken without the mess or the pot of hot oil? It isn’t too good to be true. You can learn how to make Cook’s Country’s recipe for Cast Iron Oven-Fried Chicken in the latest episode of Today’s Special on YouTube, starring Ashley Moore.

Cast Iron Oven-Fried Chicken

We found a way to replicate the crunchy exterior and juicy meat of deep-fried chicken in the oven.  
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The secret ingredients to mess-free fried chicken aren’t actually ingredients at all, but rather two pieces of kitchen equipment you probably have: a cast-iron skillet and an oven. Instead of frying in batches in a big pot of oil on the stove, we’re able to cook three pounds of chicken parts all in one go.

While we season and dredge the chicken (check out the recipe to learn our favorite ingredients to do so), we preheat the oven to 450 degrees with a 12-inch cast iron skillet inside. This provides plenty of time for the skillet’s surface to get nice and hot before adding the chicken. Once it comes to temp, we add just ½ cup of vegetable oil (far less than the 3-4 cups that our traditional fried chicken recipes call for) and bake the chicken skin-side down for 15 minutes.

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Traditional chicken deep-fried on the stovetop requires you to constantly keep an eye on it, hovering over a vat of bubbling oil, but once it’s in the oven, you can use this hands-off time to clean up or prepare a side dish or sauce. In this episode, Ashley serves the chicken with a Fresh Basil Vinaigrette. After the first 15 minutes are up, you simply flip the chicken and put it back into the oven for 15 minutes longer, until the breasts register 160 degrees and drumsticks/thighs register 175 degrees. 

“I sorta wanna marry it,” Ashley says. “And I didn’t have to make a big mess on my stovetop.”

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