Photo: ThinkstockBy Lynn Andriani
Southern Fried Chicken-from the Oven
There is a way to get crackling chicken skin without deep-frying (or shaking and baking). The trick is to preheat the oven with a pan in it--so when the chicken hits the hot metal, it instantly forms a golden crust. Crank the oven up to 375 degrees and place a dark roasting pan or rimmed cookie sheet inside. Bread drumsticks, breasts and thighs--a mixture of Ritz cracker crumbs and Parmesan cheese gives you a wonderfully crunchy and salty exterior--and then carefully remove the hot pan from the oven. Slowly drizzle 2 tablespoons of olive oil around the pan and carefully lay the chicken down; when the meat hits the pan you'll hear a sizzle. Bake for 20 minutes, flip, squirt with lemon juice and bake another 20 minutes.
Photo: ThinkstockA State Fair at Home
We aren't about to give you a recipe for no-mess fried Twinkies, but crispy-on-the-outside, fluffy-on-the-inside fried dough is well within a home cook's reach--and it doesn't involve splattering grease all over the kitchen. This four-ingredient recipe for dough comes together quickly, and you can fry up rounds in just 1/4 inch of oil (peanut oil has a neutral flavor and a higher smoke point than many other oils, which means you can get it nice and hot--a necessity for frying food--without worrying about it starting to smoke). Top the dough with a drizzle of maple syrup or a sprinkling of confectioner's or cinnamon sugar.
Photo: ThinkstockA Side Worthy of the Whistle Stop Cafe
Fried green tomatoes: a masterful combination of crusty cornmeal coating and slightly tart, unripe fruit. Tweaking the recipe to cook the tomatoes in the oven instead of in a frying pan doesn't change that perfect pairing, but it does cut down on cleanup. Follow this recipe, but cook the dipped tomatoes in a skillet coated with nonstick spray over medium-high heat until they're browned on both sides. Then transfer them to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and bake about eight minutes in a 450-degree oven.
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Photo: ThinkstockThe No-Brainer Breakfast Maneuver
Eating a delicious brunch is at the top of our Sunday morning to-do list. Cleaning a stove splattered with bacon fat? Not so much. Using the oven delivers the same results and will have you reading the paper after breakfast instead of scrubbing the stovetop. Lay the strips on a baking sheet lined with foil, and pop them in at 375 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes, until they're cooked to your liking. This technique works especially well if you're also making a breakfast casserole; just slide the bacon in on the top rack during the last 15 minutes that the casserole is baking.
Photo: Hannah Whitaker Yes, You Do Want Fries with ThatThere aren't many sides easier than precut french fries, but if ambition and the desire for something different strikes, try baked veggie fries: sweet potatoes spiced with Cajun seasoning; green beans dusted with chipotle cornmeal; carrots seasoned with cinnamon, pepper, cumin and cloves; and Parmesan-crusted zucchini. They're so good they threaten to upstage the main course.
RELATED: 7 Healthy Potato Dishes That Are Tastier Than Cheese Fries
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