Sephardic Shake and Bake Chicken or Tofu

My sister got this fantastic chicken recipe from her mother-in-law (who, in turn, got it from someone she knows). On the advice of my brother, I also tried it with tofu with excellent results.

It replicates supermarket chicken breading, but it is quite a bit spicier. It is so intensely flavorful that it makes even bland tofu taste like a little like chicken (flavor, not texture).

The mixture is so spicy, that you might want to consider reducing the amount of pepper and salt. Start with a third of the amount of pepper and salt listed, then taste the breading mixture and add more salt and pepper to taste. Generally, the spiciness will only be an issue if you use it on skinless chicken or tofu. If you put it on chicken with skin, I don’t think it is a problem.

Mitra’s Seven Spice Sephardic Shake and Bake Chicken
1-2 chickens (according to the original instructions, using all drumsticks is even better, but I have never tested this out myself)
1/2 cup bread crumbs (or matzoh meal)
1 tsp. paprika
1/2 Tbl. garlic powder
1 Tbl. onion powder
1/2 Tbl. pepper (I know, it seems like a lot; you can use less and add more if needed. Start with 1/2 tsp.)
1/2 tsp. – 1  tsp. turmeric
1 tsp. dill seed (I used dried dill when I made this the last time, but you are supposed to use dill seed)
1 tsp. basil (I used oregano and it was still good, but you are supposed to use basil)
1/2 Tbl. salt (I know, it seems like a lot; you can use less and add more if needed. Start with 1/2 tsp.)

Combine the breading ingredients. You can cut back on the pepper and salt and then taste the breading and add more to taste. It should be spicy, though. You put the breading in a bag according to the original instructions, but you can also use a shallow plate if that works better for you.

Put the chicken in the bag with the breading and shake to coat (or dredge the chicken in the breading in a shallow plate if that is the method you prefer).

Put the chicken in your roasting pan and bake COVERED for 20 minutes at 375 to 400 degrees, turning after ten minutes. Uncover the chicken and bake for an additional half hour or so, or until the chicken is tender.

Tofu version: there is enough breading for 2 lbs. of tofu.

Dry the tofu, gently squeezing out excess water. Cut the tofu into 1/4″ thick slices and drain well on paper towels and pat dry.

When making the breading, first mix together the spices and leave out the crumbs (for the moment, you will add the breadcrumbs later). Sprinkle just a little of the mixed spices over the tofu slices and let the spices permeate for a half or so. Mix the remaining spices with the bread crumbs and set aside until you are ready to make the tofu.

When you are ready to bake the tofu, dredge the tofu in the seasoned breading. Place the tofu on a greased baking sheet and spray with oil (or you can put olive oil in the pan and flip the tofu over in the layer of oil to coat both sides).

Bake the tofu at 400-450 degrees until crisp around the edges. You flip the tofu over during baking.

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