Alex Guarnaschelli's breaded chicken. Your family will thank her (and me) for this

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Every so often – though sadly not often enough – I come across a new dish that is SO
CQ1311_Chopped-Scott-Conant-Alex-Guarnaschelli-Marc-Murphy_s4x3_lgGOOD it becomes part of my family suppers repertoire.
The latest came about because of my addiction to the Food Network show Chopped. If you haven’t ever watched it, then you must. IT IS FANTASTIC.

Basically, four chefs are given a basket of ingredients and have to use them to create something delicious for the three judges. The ingredients might be something like beetroot, lime cordial, oysters, marshmallows. The contestants have to turn that bunch of gross stuff into a sophisticated starter, and if they get through, they get another bunch of grim ingredients for the main course and then dessert.

At the end of each round, the judges choose which person has made the worst dish and they are chopped, and don’t go on to the next course. The winner at the end of the dessert round wins $10,000.

Here’s a glimpse, just in case you are wondering what I am talking about…


Honestly, if I had one wish, it would be to be a contestant or a judge on Chopped. But anyway…

One of the judges is the beautiful and hugely talented Alex Guarnaschelli – executive chef of New York restaurants Butter and The Darby and a big name in American food. She is brilliant at saying ‘Actually, I disagree…’ when one of her fellow judges slates something that she thinks is delicious. Here she is, in the photograph above, in the middle, about to disagree. She is unpretentious, gutsy and super-cool so I looked her up and bought one of her cookery books, called Old School Comfort Food.

The first recipe I made from it was for Breaded Chicken with Mustard and Dry Sherry which sounded like something from a chopped basket. Dry sherry in breaded chicken? Still, I trust Alex so I made it for my kids. Yes, it contained Dijon mustard, Tabasco, sherry and Worcestershire – all of which they don’t like. But Alex says in the introduction that when she was growing up it was the dish she would ask her mom to make
Photo-26all the time. And that was good enough for me. So, with baited breath, I waited to see what they would think. And when my older daughter said: ‘Wow, can we have this EVERY DAY’ and the littler one said: ‘I actually really really really really like this, Mummy’ I knew I was onto a good thing. My husband got home and gasped with happiness when he saw the tray of chicken next to Alex’s book and promptly ate three pieces with a side of coleslaw and declared his undying love for Alex (he loves Chopped too, and already loved her anyway, so that was OK).

So, here is her recipe, kind of. I have changed it a tiny bit – but the sherry and mustard and Worcestershire sauce and Tabasco are still there. DON’T leave them out. This recipe is awesome. Thank you Alex. You are so not chopped.

Serves 4, depending on how much your husband eats

120ml soy sauce
120ml dry sherry (I used Tio Pepe)
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon Chipotle Tabasco if you have it, or ordinary Tabasco otherwise
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon runny honey
2 garlic cloves, bashed so they are whole but split
60ml sunflower oil
1 whole chicken, cut into eight, skin removed
1 mug-full of matzo meal or plain breadcrumbs
1/2 a mug of panko breadcrumbs if you have some, otherwise use more of the matzo meal
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper
80g butter or margarine, melted ( I used Pure sunflower margarine)

Mix together the soy sauce, dry sherry, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco, Dijon mustard, runny honey, garlic cloves, and oil.
Place the chicken pieces in a large bowl and pour over the marinade. Cover and refrigerate for as long as you can – overnight is cool, an hour is less cool but OK.
Preheat the oven to 200C. Mix together the breadcrumbs, panko, smoked paprika, thyme, salt and pepper and melted butter or margarine and place in a bowl.
Take each piece of chicken and roll it in the breadcrumb mixture, pressing gently so the crumbs adhere to the chicken.
Alex says to put the chicken piece on a rack in a roasting tin but I couldn’t find my rack ( I later remembered it was in the cupboard above the oven that I never remember exists until it is too late) so I just put them in a roasting dish.
Bake the chicken for around 25 to 30 minutes, Alex says, though I did mine for 45 minutes until it had reached 80C in the middle (I did actually do that thermometer thing but trust me, 45 minutes is loads) and the outside was golden and crunchy.
Alex says to then grill the chicken for a few minutes until golden, but I didn’t do that because it already was. So up to you whether you do that.
Serve with lemon wedges and coleslaw, in front of Chopped, natch.

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