Saturday, January 31, 2009

Dinner of Champions: Cornflake Chicken

My sister gave me a cookbook for Christmas called "What Hawaii Likes to Eat." It listed all the standard dishes we ate growing up in the islands, from the traditional like kalua pig to the offbeat like spam musubi. But as I was flipping through the pages and going down memory lane, there was one recipe that I had never heard of or seen, and apparently it’s one of the new classics that only became popular in Hawaii in the last few years (after I already got off the rock, you might say).

That dish is Cornflake Chicken. It apparently was made popular by the people behind Side Street Inn, which is a popular diner spot in Honolulu. What I liked about the concept of Cornflake Chicken is that you make chicken that looks like fried chicken but isn’t! And you know how I avoid deep-fried food so I was excited about making this recipe.

Since I’ve gotten this cookbook, I’ve made this dish twice! It’s really simple to make (like most Hawaii foods are) and I love the taste. My only gripe is that the cornflakes don’t really stick to the chicken very well, so it can be a mess eating. (But that’s a sure sign something’s good when you don’t care how you look eating it, right?)

Below I’ve reprinted the recipe from the book in case you want to try it. For those of you who are in the anti-mayonnaise camp (I know who you are!), you can substitute it with mustard or something else to help the cornflakes adhere to the chicken. The key, in my opinion, is not to skimp on the parmesan cheese because I think the saltiness of the cheese is what makes the chicken so ono-licious! Enjoy!

Cornflake Chicken
(excerpted from "What Hawaii Likes to Eat")

Yields 4 servings

8 chicken thighs (about 3 pounds), skin removed
1/2 teaspoon salt
Pepper, to taste
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup mayonnaise
4 cups cornflakes, crushed

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Sprinkle chicken on both sides with salt, pepper and cheese. Coat with mayonnaise, then roll in cornflakes. Bake for 45 minutes, until juices run clear.

Tips from Chef Ben: Like I said, the above recipe was easy to make, but I did some variations. You can just use six chicken thighs, which I found was the common number used by grocery stores. Get the ones with bone still in so you have something to hold onto, but definitely lose the skin.

Also, I coated the chicken with mayonnaise before adding the cheese because I didn't think the cheese would stick to the chicken without the mayonnaise first. Be generous with the cheese, you may need more than the recipe calls for. You might also smear on the mayonnaise with your hands because it can get clumpy.

Place the chicken in a roasting pan. If possible, place them on a rack so that it'll have air circulating around it. It did take about 45 minutes to cook (thighs take longer to cook) but you can also use an instant read thermometer and cook until 140 degrees internally.


David K. and Ann C.-K. said...

Acknowledging the anti-mayonnaise crowd still doesn't make cooking with mayo right. Please reconsider! -- David

lilly said...

I have a suggestion...I've made this dish before, but I marinated the chicken in buttermilk first, then dredged it in the cornflakes. This cuts out the mayo, still gives you flavour, and is much healthier. :)

Single Guy Ben said...

David, I gave you mustard, what more do you want!? ;P

Lilly, buttermilk sounds like a good idea too as long as you pad it a bit so it's not super wet. I bet if you also soak it overnight in buttermilk, that'll probably help the chicken be super moist too.

Anonymous said...

Anti-Mayo crowd? They really exist? :). I've had this before at someones house but I never knew it was Hawaiian, sounds yummy and I need to try to make it myself (with loads of mayo of course).

Anonymous said...


Jenster said...

Hi, Sorry to be getting in on this so late but I have to share that I've been making my own cornflake chicken for years and dip my chicken quickly in a mixture of one beaten egg and one tablespoon of milk before adding the crumb mixture. It helps keep the crumbs from sticking. I'm not anti-mayo but I do try to keep the white stuff to sandwiches.

The chicken photo looks ono, but the way!

Elizabeth said...

Hi Single Guy Chef,
I make my cornflake chicken with cut chicken pieces, like chicken fingers. Dredge in seasoned flour (salt, pepper & italian seasoning mixed with flour), roll chicken pieces in flour, then in milk (I use almond milk), then in crushed cornflake or any "flake" cereal crumbs (I use buckwheat flakes). Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 350 for 30minutes. I will post my recipe on my website. -Elizabeth