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Sometimes, I decide we should buy chicken breasts. Such a reliable, flexible, healthful staple. Then, I start looking at recipes. I think about things like lemongrass, curry paste, freshly-ground masalas. And the chicken waits until I get over myself and realize that there are few better ways to create a satisfying, family-friendly worknight dinner than by breading and baking a couple chicken breasts.
Simple, pretty healthy, flavorful and crisp, oven-fried chicken is a glorious food that deserves its own name—it’s so much more than a lower-fat replacement for fried chicken. Plus, you can make it on a weeknight—even on salad night, which at our house looks like Mommy eating chicken on greens, Leo eating chicken with ketchup, and Daddy working late.
Get the chicken marinating in the mix of buttermilk, mayo and Dijon, first thing in the morning, and you’ve got an especially easy pre-dinner prep. Or make it all in one shot, marinating for a few minutes at best, and you’ve got a streamlined, low-mess meal that you can get in the oven with that last burst of energy before you put your feet up. Best of all, the recipe yields especially tasty lunch material for a chicken sandwich or salad that you will look forward to for as long as you can wait before eating it. Now who would want to complicate that?
Zoe Singer is a freelance food writer and cookbook editor and co-author ofThe Flexitarian Table. Food Editor and blogger for The Faster Times, she tries not to eat for two now that her son is a toddler.