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I had to turn around to see exactly WHAT made that sound! Did Hass step on my glasses? Or his glasses? Or step on the dog, breaking a bone? His or hers? What in the world made that huge, ginormous cruuunchhhing sound???

None of that made the earth shattering cruuunchhh. To my incredible pleasure, Hass had just taken his first bite of THIS oven fried chicken.


…and the yard bird angels sang.

It was beautiful. It was glorious. It was…CRUUUNCHHHY.

I had to stop a moment to take it all in. I was stunned. Shocked. Were my ears deceiving me? My eyes wide as saucers. My lips slowly curving into a HUGE, bright smile. Did I dare believe this was the one? Could the search finally be over? Could I truly have mastered the unmasterable? I was becoming giddy and a bit dizzy in my euphoric state. Could it really be possible…could I finally have achieved…OVEN FRIED CHICKEN CRUUUNCHHH PERFECTION??? Oh my I thought, I surely have the vapors! Insert passing out here. Full frontal face plant on floor.

For the past year I had been aggressively pursuing the perfect oven fried chicken recipe. Working like a mad scientist, I was armed with a heavy arsenal of everything to create the elusive crunch factor. I had made more than several attempts, all decent, but none that screamed “this has over a bazillion calories, is loaded with trans-fat and just came out of a Crisco lard filled cast iron skillet from grandma’s house”.

…until THIS one.


I truly couldn’t believe my ears. I waited with baited breath at the utmost level of anticipation to see what Hass would say, if anything. He looked at me, I glanced in his general direction afraid to make direct eye contact, not daring to breathe. And then. He spoke.

“If I didn’t know this was baked chicken I would swear it came straight from my grandmother’s kitchen. This tastes just like her fried chicken.”

WAIT???  WHAT????  JUST like his grandmother’s??? JUST like it??? Am I dreaming? Am I even in reality? This was IT! PROOF. POSITIVE. I….me….Melissa Diane Pelkey-Hass had officially achieved Oven Fried Chicken Greatness! Que bows and awarding winning acceptance speech!

I couldn’t wait to respond to his comment. All of the thoughts in my head were intoxicatingly out of control! I wanted to tell him about all of the heartbreaking attempts I had made to get THAT response. To HEAR that very particular CRUUUNCHHH. I wanted to tell him every way I had tried this recipe over the past year. I wanted to explain how I had no lard to work with and how it is chemically impossible to achieve the proper crunch without it! I wanted to tell him how many chickens had met their demise due to this trial and error. How many tears were shed. How many therapy sessions I had considered. I wanted to tell him how many bottles of wine I had consumed over this and how many flour baths I had taken ending up a twin to Casper the Ghost. I wanted to tell him about all of the trials and tribulations. I wanted to tell him the whole sordid story… but nothing would come out until finally, I heard my own voice.

“Thanks honey.”

Thanks honey? That’s all I could muster? Sigh.

Sometimes after achieving greatness, nothing more can be said. You just quietly smile to yourself, and take your first bite of heaven, just waiting to hear…that CRUUUNCHHH.


Buttermilk Oven Fried Chicken with White Alabama BBQ Sauce


  • 6-8 pieces of chicken – I use dark meat, thighs and legs
  • 2 cups Buttermilk
  • 3 dashes hot sauce
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2-3 cups Panko – Japanese Bread Crumbs – DO NOT SUBSTITUTE
  • 4 eggs or 6 whites – lightly beaten (I use Eggbeaters)
  • 1 tsp. Dry Italian Seasoning
  • 1 tsp. Garlic Powder
  • 1 tsp. Onion powder
  • 1 tsp. Thyme
  • Smoked Paprika
  • Salt & Pepper



Blend Buttermilk and hot sauce, and place in a gallon zip lock bag. Wash chicken pieces with cold water, shake dry and add to bag. Allow this to marinate at least 3 hours and up to 24 hours. I like to turn the bag occasionally to allow all sides to marinate. The Buttermilk will keep your chicken juicy.

In a shallow bowl, blend flour and all herbs and spices. Add salt and pepper according to your taste preference. Pour the egg in a second shallow bowl. Place the Panko in a gallon ziplock bag.

Remove chicken from Buttermilk and drain. Dredge each piece of chicken in flour first coating all sides, and shaking off excess flour. Next, dip each piece in the egg wash. Then place in the bag of Panko and gently shake to coat. Make sure each piece is WELL COATED with the Panko. Place each piece onto a greased baking sheet. Sprinkle with additional Smoked Paprika.

Bake at 400 for 30-40 minutes or until chicken is done and juices run clear.

Alabama White BBQ Sauce (as adapted from Southern Living): 

  • 1 1/2 cups Olive Oil mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon coarsely ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons prepared horseradish

Whisk all ingredients and refrigerate up to 1 week. Serve drizzled over chicken.

NOTE: The really great part of this recipe is you can use the same ingredients and method to oven fry okra, green beans, asparagus, FISH!!!, Chicken nuggets, you name it!

20140324_201931_resizedI love that crunch. Bon Appetit y’all!