You can marinate the chicken in the buttermilk mixture up to 24 hours so the seasoning penetrates the meat more deeply, though even a two-hour soak will help if you’re time-pressed. Two teaspoons of hot sauce in the marinade gives the chicken zesty flavor without seeming spicy. Depending on your heat preference, you can double or triple the amount of hot sauce. For best results, shop for air-chilled (not water-chilled) chicken so it’s easier for the brine to penetrate. Grate the cheese with a Microplane or other very fine grater so it spreads evenly into the coating.
1 qt. whole buttermilk
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons hot sauce (such as Tabasco)
3 pounds assorted skinless, bone-in chicken pieces (thighs and drumsticks; breasts cut in half crosswise)
Combine first 3 ingredients in a large bowl; stir until salt dissolves. Add chicken; submerge to fully coat with buttermilk mixture. Cover bowl. Refrigerate 8 hours (or at least 2 hours and up to 24 hours).
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Place a wire rack on a baking sheet; coat rack with cooking spray. Combine panko and remaining ingredients in a large bowl; stir well. Remove chicken from marinade, one piece at a time, letting excess drip off; dredge in panko mixture to coat. Place coated chicken on prepared rack. Repeat with remaining chicken and panko mixture. Spray coated chicken with cooking spray. Place chicken in oven; bake at 400°F for 30 minutes or until browned and meat is done. Let stand 10 minutes; serve.
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