The chicken tasted great, but I probably should have left it in longer to get it really crispy. Found the recipe for the chicken here http://carlsbadcravings.com/best-baked-fried-chicken/. Supposed to be for chicken strips, but I cut my chicken into bite size pieces for the salad to make it easier. Also could be used as chicken nuggets for kids… the chicken does have to marinate for at least 6 hours (I did mine overnight), so plan ahead.
Start by making the spice mixture in a small sandwich bag of 1 tbsp salt, 2 tsp chili powder, 2 tsp garlic powder, 1 tsp pepper, 1 tsp paprika (smoked preferred), and 1 tsp onion powder. Seal the bag and mix it all up. Cut your chicken up into whatever size pieces you want. Recipe calls for 10 chicken tenderloins, I did 1 breast cut into bite size pieces and had tons of spice and breaking left over because I made he whole batch of those. Once your chicken is cut up, I used a quart bag in a bowl folder over. Then I added 1 C buttermilk and 1 tbsp of the spice mixture, then mixed that up. Then I added the chicken and made sure to coat all the pieces, then sealed the bag and put it in the fridge for at least 6 hours or overnight if you can.
The day I cooked, I preheated the oven to 40 degrees and then I started by boiling a couple eggs. I have a very particular process for this because I want the eggs to be EASY to peel. First of all, start with eggs you have had in your fridge for at least 5 days. Then put however many you want in a pot, cover with COLD water, then put on the stove and bring to a roiling boil. Once it is really boiling, turn off the heat, cover, and set the timer for 20 minutes. When the time is up, immediately put them in a bow with ice water and set the timer for 5 minutes. Once that timer goes off, dry them and peel whenever you want (right then, the next day, the next week, whenever), and tell me how much you love me because it is so easy to peel and you don’t end up cussing at the eggs like I used to do before I found out about this process.
Now is when I cut everything else up for the salad because I wanted to keep a close eye on the chicken, but you can do this while you cook the eggs or the chicken or both. I cut up 1/2 a head of iceberg lettuce, 1 carrot (peeled of course), 1 celery stalk, a little bit of broccoli, a little bit of cauliflower, and some red onion. I also had some shredded cheddar cheese that we added on top.
For the chicken, line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper (foil doesn’t work because the chicken sticks to it). Add 3 tbsp butter to it and let it melt in the oven. Once melted, take the sheet out of the oven and set aside. Using a paper towel, pat dry the chicken. To a large Ziploc bag, add 1 C flour, 1 C panko breadcrumbs, 1/4 C cornmeal, and the rest of the spice mixture. Toss to combine in the bag. Add the chicken to the bag and toss to coat well. Place the coated chicken on the tray with the melted butter, then into the oven for 10-12 minutes. When the timer is up, turn the chicken and cook another 5 minutes. Once done, turn to broil and cook till crispy (we did it for about 4 minutes, but we definitely should have let it go a bit longer). When done, remove from the oven and let rest a few minutes.
While the chicken is resting, make the rest of your salad. Layer your lettuce, top with the veggies, add the egg (diced if you want to just in the side if you are weird like me). When the chicken has rested, add that on top of your salad, top with cheese and dressing (we did thousand island but some other good options are ranch or honey mustard) and serve it up. Enjoy!