Crispy Baked Chicken

If you think it’s hard to look at this picture, try smelling it while it’s baking!

Let’s be real: One of the reasons we love fried chicken is for the crispy skin. I know that’s my favorite part of the experience, saving that rich, crunchy sheet for the last flavorful bite. But fried chicken is my kryptonite, so I don’t have it that often. That doesn’t mean I can’t still get that crispy mouthfeel for a fraction of the calories, though.

How? By baking the chicken with a little bit of oil. I’ve never been one to enjoy the “oven fried” fried chicken clones, and I never found a way to make a decent one myself. But a well-seasoned piece of roasted chicken that’s been cooked long enough to yield a crispy coat of skin works just fine for me.

Before Weight Watchers, I’d pour a good amount of oil, probably 1/3 to 1/2 cup of oil, into a bowl for maybe 8 pieces of chicken, add spices (a mix of salt, pepper and garlic, or just seasoned salt), and brush the mixture onto the chicken. But here’s what I did this weekend, riffing on a Latin spice recipe from SkinnyTaste.com. (My recipe is for 12 pieces, for the hungry men in my family, but feel free to adjust everything to make a smaller quantity.)

  • 12 pieces of chicken (I went with drumsticks and thighs, but wings would work, too.)
  • 3 Badia Tropical Sazon packets (Approximately 1 1/2 pack for each side of the 12 pieces of chicken. I went with Badia to avoid the MSG in Goya Sazon. The kind of Badia Sazon I got didn’t have annato in it, to give the chicken a nice red-orange color, but you might be lucky.)
  • Adobo spice powder to taste
  • Oregano to taste
  • Paprika (I added it to compensate for the color that I was missing with my annato-less Sazon, but I think I’ll pick up annato in the future, for until I run out of the Sazon packets I have.)
  • 1/2 cup vinegar (I went with apple cider, but I’d also try red wine vinegar. The original recipe recommended white vinegar, but I opted not to use it because I thought the flavor might be too harsh.)
  • 2T oil (I used canola.)

Sprinkle the spices on one side of the chicken parts, then turn the pieces over and sprinkle the other side, topping with the paprika last. Put the chicken into a plastic ziploc bag.

Mix the oil into the vinegar, and dump the mixture into the bag. Close the bag and shake everything up; place the bag in the refrigerator to marinate. (I let it go for about 30 minutes, but I’m sure you’d be fine to go for a few hours or overnight if you wanted.)

Place the chicken pieces in baking pans, and roast it at 350 degrees until it’s cooked through and the skin is crisp.

I can’t wait to try this recipe again with the soul seasoning I have in the house! (For that go-round, the soul seasoning will be the only spice I use.)

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