Just between you and me…I did make a few changes, some would even call them shortcuts, to Melba’s delicious oven-fried chicken recipe from her first cookbook, “Melba’s American Comfort.” The changes are all behind the scenes and do not change the taste of this finger-licking recipe. Here are my five changes:

  1. Chicken preparation—I do this with all of my chicken regardless of what I am making. I first brine the chicken parts in water, salt and vinegar for at least two hours. Rinse and pat dry with paper towels.

  2. Seasoning—I add a little Adobo to my seasoning mix and season the chicken well. Let sit for another hour at least.

  3. Cooking vessel—Instead of the baking pan, I use a baking sheet (lower sides to let air flow over) lined with foil first then parchment paper.

  4. Dressing chicken—I use only Italian breadcrumbs lightly seasoned with the seasoning mix and placed in a deep storage container. With a pastry brush, I brush on a thin coat of mayonnaise only (not thinned with milk) and one by one add each piece to the breadcrumb container to coat, moving directly to the prepared baking sheet at least an inch apart.

  5. Cooking—Optimally, I would cook the chicken on a rack so air can move all around it. The pan is placed in the middle rack of the oven (SCHOP Tip!: This is the perfect recipe for convection cooking. Cooking time decreases by 25 percent). I do not turn.

This recipe, with or without my modifications, might replace your pan or deep-fried chicken, but remember it is our little secret. Melba never has to know…