This easy recipe from Sara Moulton Cooks at Home is ideal for entertaining. You can put it into the oven and it minds itself while you do other things. When I told my mentor and good buddy Jean Anderson that this book needed her chicken recipe — it’s become one of the most requested on Cooking Live — she floored me by replying that it wasn’t really her recipe. She had learned it when she was working at Ladies’ Home Journal and then adapted it for The Doubleday Cookbook. Still, I learned it from Jean and think of it as Jean Anderson’s Chicken, and I have never met a chicken lover who wasn’t nuts for it, kids and grown-ups alike. It is great served hot, cold, or at room temperature. It’d probably be great if you served it on the moon. A word to the wise: This is a high-calorie recipe, so you might want to save it for special occasions.
All you have to remember is melted garlic butter and a crumb mixture with a ratio of three parts fresh bread crumbs (page 347) to one part freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano. Dip the chicken pieces in the butter, then in the crumb mixture, then bake them. You can dress up this recipe by adding herbs to the crumb mixture, but I usually make it plain for the kids, they get nervous when they spot those little green flecks.
By the way, it is essential to use the real Parmigiano-Reggiano and to grate it yourself. Do not reach for that pregrated stuff in a can–it tastes like sawdust. If grating the cheese by hand seems like too much work, just cut some into chunks and throw them into the food processor with the metal blade. The result isn’t as fine as hand-grated cheese, but it works just dandy for this recipe.
Jean Anderson’s chicken is perfect for a crowd. It is a little messy to make (I usually end up breading my hands, too), but it is worth the mess, and you will become very popular.
Serves 4 to 6
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups fresh bread crumbs (page 347)
2/3 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
2 teaspoons Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
One 3 1/2-pound chicken, cut into 10 pieces (or all thighs, wings, or breasts if desired)
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Combine the butter and garlic in a small saucepan. Heat over medium-high heat until the butter has melted. Pour into a large bowl and cool to room temperature.
Mix the bread crumbs, cheese, salt, and pepper in a large bowl and cool to room temperature. Dip each chicken piece, one at a time, into the melted garlic butter. Transfer to the bread crumb mixture and turn until coated on all sides.
Arrange the chicken in one flat layer on a large baking sheet. Drizzle on any of the remaining melted butter. Bake until lightly browned and just cooked through, 50 to 60 minutes.