Since mastering fried chicken with my Fried Chicken Salad, I've come to love heating my frying pan up with hot bubbling oil and watching bite-sized bits of chicken turn a perfectly golden brown, crispy on the outside and oh so moist on the inside. It's a Southerner's dream I tell ya! Well, this this is what it'd look like if a Southerner married an Italian (which has probably happened, and this is probably what they look like!). Your kids will love this, you will love it, and if your dog is lucky enough to get some leftovers, I bet he will too!
Vegetable oil, for frying
1 6-inch sprig fresh rosemary
1/4 cup plus 3/4 teaspoon salt
grated zest of 1 large lemon, divided
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 2-inch pieces
2 (or more!) garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup fine cornmeal
2 cups marinara sauce, warmed
Heat 1/4-inch of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the rosemary sprig and fry for 30 seconds, until crisp. Using tongs, remove the rosemary and drain on a paper towel. Remove the leaves and finely chop to yield 1 tablespoon. Combine with 1/4 cup salt and half the lemon zest in a small bowl and mix with a fork. Keep the pan over medium-high heat.
In a medium bowl, mix the chicken, garlic, chopped fresh rosemary, remaining lemon zest, remaining salt, and pepper. Add the cornmeal and toss until the chicken is coated.
Add half the chicken to the same skillet used to cook the rosemary and fry 2-3 minutes on each side, until golden and crispy and cooked through. Drain on paper towels. Repeat with the remaining chicken, adding more oil to the pan as needed.
Sprinkle the chicken with some of the rosemary-lemon salt (any remaining can be stored in an airtight container for future use) and serve with warm marinara sauce for dipping.
Recipe adapted from Weeknights with Giada by Giada de Laurentiis.