Meat

panko-crusted baked chicken

absolute chicanery (in indiana this time) ::::

My younger brother, Borpolgeeber, and his wife, Linderscram, flew from Indiana to our home in northern Cali to visit last week. They are well-versed in the pastime of gardening and are sustainable, urban homesteaders in their community in Muncie. They not only know the ins and outs of kale, corn, carrots, onions, and dill, but they are also excellent chickeners.

 Or should I say, former chickeners. You see, they learned the hard way that a city ordinance strictly prohibits the “harboring of poultry” within city limits. One afternoon in 2010, well after their four egg-laying chickens had lived in their well-outfitted and securely fenced yard for around a year, the animal control truck pulled up in front of their modest, single-story house because of a tip-off. Mind you, they never had roosters, known to be racuous at all hours. They kept their chickens well fed and safely enclosed in their spacious yard. Their roosting house was clean. But law is law and within a week, they had found “foster parents” for the chickens outside of city limits.

 

 I gather the person who did the tipping off to the animal control department was bathed in ignorance. While I understand concerns about disease and noise related to poultry, it is unfounded in someone’s few backyard chickens. The poultry “production houses” you see highlighted on the news when there is a new outbreak of Disease X? Very different than a grassy backyard in Muncie, Indiana. In poultry sheds designed for mass production of egg layers or broilers, the air can become highly polluted with ammonia from the bird feces. These farms also “breed for speed,” meaning many chickens are bred for fast growth, especially the sought after breast meat. This method contributes to many leg and pelvic deformities as the large chicken breasts prevent the birds to support their increased body weight. Fecal matter, limited mobility due to limb deformities and extra weight, as well as the stress of overcrowding are all potential sources of sickness.

A grassy backyard does not equal poultry farm housing.

A backyard chicken does not have big breasts and deformed legs.

A backyard chicken is not stressed about limited space or overcrowding.

A backyard chicken is not a rooster. It is quieter than the mockingbird outside your window or the neighbor’s dog.

As long as you are washing your hands after touching  a chicken, there’s little reason that you could get sick from a chicken. The same goes for your dog.

So, you ask, WHY am I posting a chicken recipe today? Am I hypocritical?

I’ve made a point in the last year to buy free-range or yarded chickens as much as possible, and to cut down on the amount of meat we eat. I tend to be surreptitious about my lack of meat eating, often simultaneously preparing the chicken nuggets for the kids, as requested, and gorging on the meat-free kale salad instead. I’m not condemning those who like their animal protein, but writing this to get people thinking a little more about what we eat and where it comes from.

Our neighbors have chickens (we are lucky to live in a chicken-friendly city) so Grub and Peach often see the neighbor kids cooing to their birds. They are great snail catchers (I should employ them in my garden!) and eat vegetable scraps. They are very quiet; never have I thought to myself Gosh, those chickens are so noisy!  They are also fun to watch, as they clamor up the backyard easels and tents, occasionally roosting on our dividing fence. We are lucky to live in such a great community that we share backyards, meals, and watching our kids grow.

While I prefer thighs and drumsticks, I used a few wings here for Peach. She loves buffalo-style chicken wings so I thought this would be a definite pleaser. It didn’t pass Peach muster (because they weren’t exactly the same  as the buffalo-style. Panko crispiness, you have a hater!), but Eat and I ate them without a problem. The drumsticks were also a big hit with friends over for dinner.

As you crunch into your panko-crusted baked chicken, think about your food. It’s not just the taste, it’s the process with which you obtain it. Be aware. (And eat more fruits and vegetables!)

panko-crusted baked chicken
Author: 
Recipe type: meat
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6-8
 
Ingredients
  • 10 chicken drumsticks and 6 chicken wings (about 5 pounds total)
  • 2¼ cups panko + 2¼ teaspoons kosher salt (seasoned salt works well)
  • 1 cup flour + a pinch or two of salt
  • 4 large eggs
Instructions
  1. Prepare three large bowls, one with flour + pinch salt, one with eggs, and one with panko + kosher/seasoned salt. Set aside
  2. Foil wrap sheet pan(s) to accommodate the chicken, spacing the pieces at least 2 inches apart.
  3. Dip each chicken piece first into the flour, then the eggs, then the panko, and place on baking sheet(s).*
  4. When all chicken is crusted, place into refrigerator for at least 2 hours, up to 8 hours, UNcovered. This allows the chicken to dry out a bit and will result in nice crispy skin once baked.
  5. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F, with oven rack in middle of oven.
  6. Bake the chicken wings for 20 minutes, the drumsticks for 40 minutes.
  7. Sprinkle with large grain kosher salt or Maldon salt and serve.
Notes
* Why this order? The flour sticks to the chicken skin, which then gives the eggs something to grab onto, while the wetness of the eggs helps the panko hold on. If you dip the chicken without the first coat of flour, the eggs slip off.

 

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