Triple Ranch Chicken
I’m a big fan of repurposing existing recipes. In this case, I’m starting with this utterly delicious oven fried chicken recipe from Carlsbad Cravings. (They call it the best and it really is.) While their seasoning mix is fabulous, we eat it a lot so I wanted to switch things up a bit. I settled on ranch as a flavour because I had some ranch croutons I needed to use and figured they’d be great as part of the breading. I made my own ranch dressing for dipping.
Triple Ranch Chicken
- Food Processor
- 2 chicken breasts, cut lengthwise to make 4 fillets
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup ranch croutons, processed to coarse crumbs See Notes, below.
- 1/4 cup panko bread crumbs approximately
- 1/4 cup cornmeal
- 3 tbsp unsalted butter
- ranch dressing
- 2 tbsp parsallot dried herb mix OR a mixture of dried parsley, onion flakes, and dried chives See Notes, below.
- 2 tsp dried dillweed
- 2 tsp granulated garlic
- 2 tsp granulated onion
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- Cut the chicken breasts lengthwise, like a butterfly fillet, but cut all the way through. Pound to an even thickness, if necessary. These thinner cuts cook faster and dry out less.
- Combine all of the herb mix ingredients in a small bowl with a lid. Close and shake to mix.
- Measure one cup of buttermilk into a measuring cup, then add 1 tbsp (15 mL) of herb mix. Stir. Place chicken in a glass baking dish and pour buttermilk mixture over. Cover with a lid or plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4-6 hours or overnight. Set aside the herbs for use in the breading mix.
- Remove chicken from fridge about an hour before cooking time. While it comes to room temperature, prepare the breading mix. After processing the ranch croutons into coarse crumbs, pour them into a 1-cup (240 mL) measuring cup. It will not be full. Add panko bread crumbs to make one cup. (Or just go all panko, as described in the notes below.) Add the bread crumbs to a large bowl, then add the flour, cornmeal, and remaining herb mix. Stir. (You can also add all of these ingredients to a large freezer bag if you prefer to “shake and bake.”)
- About 15 minutes before cooking, preheat oven to 400F (205C). Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment–not foil because food sticks to it. Cut up the butter and lay it around the pan. Put the pan in the oven to melt the butter while the oven heats. Remove it immediately when the butter is melted.
- Remove chicken from marinade and dab off excess liquid with paper towels. Add chicken, one piece at a time, to the bowl of breading mix. Press breading into the chicken to ensure it is thoroughly coated. Place breaded chicken on a plate. Repeat with the remaining pieces. (If using the shake & bake method, put two chicken pieces at a time into the bag with the breading mix, then shake to coat.)
- When all the chicken is breaded, place on the baking pan in the melted butter. Bake for about 6-8 minutes, until edges start to turn golden, then carefully turn the chicken. Bake for another 4 minutes or so, until the chicken registers 165F (74C) on a thermometer. Broil for a few minutes to make the coating crispy.
- Remove from the oven. Serve chicken with a side of thick ranch dressing for dipping or to drizzle over the chicken. (See Notes, below.)
- The ranch croutons are not essential. I used them because I had them sitting around. If you don’t have any, just use 1 full cup (240 mL) of panko bread crumbs. Croutons are a little salty and oily, so if you don’t use them, you may need to add a little salt to your breading mix. Mix all the ingredients first, then do a small taste test to gauge whether more salt is needed.
- If not using parsallot, you can use straight parsley, but also add 2 tsp (10 mL) of onion flakes and 1 tsp (5 mL) of dried chives listed in the original recipe.
- For the ranch dressing, use store-bought or whip up a quick homemade version.
Image of chicken by Mozart3737 | Dreamstime.com
Ranch Flavour Facts
- When I was a kid, ranch dressing was most closely associated with the brand Hidden Valley. It looked like a marketing ruse–a fictitious “ranch” used to add authenticity to a product. As it turns out, the ranch was real. This brief history of the creator of ranch dressing explains how it all came about.
- According to Thrillist, Hidden Valley now offers more than 70 varieties of ranch dressing, including a vegan version.
- Ranch flavouring is ubiquitous in the snack aisle, so when you’re looking for variations on ranch chicken breading options, look there for anything than can be crushed and mixed into a topping: Veggie straws, crackers, even Cool Ranch Doritos. Health ranking? Pretty low. Potential for deliciousness? Definitely high.