What makes a home a home?
A home is a place where you are supposed to feel loved and safe. A lot of factors contribute to that. I believe that food and family meals play a big, big role in it too. It’s not always easy to do, your kids might be picky and give you a hard time, like mine sometimes do, and dinner might be a pretty messy event . But It’s worth it. Believe me, your children will remember forever their childhood family dinners and if they have good memories they will want to come back to you. I never really had that, so this is (almost?) #1 on my priority list of each day.
Some meals are particularly special. Those with dishes that all the family members love, those that are connected to happy times and events, those that create togetherness and make you feel safe and at home. Or what is simply referred to as comfort food that you keep making over and over and over again. Family favorites.
I remember breaded chicken cutlets as a childhood favorite. It is now my knight in shining armor, coming to my rescue whenever I feel stuck and don’t know what to cook. My grandma Tovah used to make them when she visited us, and I especially remember eating them when we went on long trips, like visiting my aunt who lived 4 hours drive up North. My grandma used to put the crispy browned cutlet in sandwiches to eat on the road (as well as plenty of other dishes stored in pots and placed on the floor in the back of the car for hours. Forget about food safety…)
Today’s breaded and baked chicken legs are going to be my #2 but they might just be #1 for my kids who prefer the dark meat (actually, we all prefer the dark meat). I hope they will love them still when they grow up and have their own family. I hope I will have a chance to make these for my future grandchildren. They are so delicious. What’s not to like? Crispy brown crust of breadcrumbs flavored with fresh herbs, and underneath a coat of juicy meat that was marinated for a few hours. Look at the color of them!
What family favorite foods do you remember from your childhood?
For the best flavor and easiest make ahead, marinate the chickens hours before you bake them, and up to overnight. They might looks soggy before baking but don’t worry, they will crisp up.
Crispy chicken legs
Makes 6-8 servings
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon garlic powder (or use 1-2 fresh minced garlic cloves)
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup fresh/dry breadcrumbs
1 handful fresh herbs*, chopped fine
5 whole organic/free-range (it taste a whole lot better) chicken legs, with skin, split to thighs and drums
canola oil for greasing the pan
In a shallow bowl mix together the mayonnaise, Dijon, and all the spices (omit any spice that you don’t have. It’s Ok) and season with a little salt and pepper.
In a separate bowl, mix the breadcrumbs with the herbs, add 1 teaspoon salt and the pepper.
One at a time, coat each chicken part in the mayonnaise mixture, then dip it in the breadcrumbs mixture, turning to coat. (With the thighs, I only coat the skin side with breadcrumbs since the bottom will get wet from the juices). Place in a container, cover, and store in the fridge for at least one hour.
Preheat oven to 425°F. Coat a baking sheet with a little oil and place the chicken parts in the pan, skin side up. Roast for 30 minutes. Lower temperature to 350 F and continue to roast another 20-30 minutes.
If you have time and you like your chicken falling off the bone, lower the heat more (250-300 F) and keep in the oven another 20-30 minutes.
* Use whatever you have and any combination of parsley, cilantro, oregano, basil, chives, thyme, sage, rosemary, etc.