Italian Baked "Fried" Chicken

When A Prank Goes Wrong

Have you ever been a pawn in a prank that went terribly wrong? I was.  And it was my father that put me up to it. But I thought it went just great!

In front of my house on 77 Street, minus the rose bushes.

We lived in a row house on 77th Street in Brooklyn, between 15th and 16th Avenue. My grandparents resided on the top floor and my family occupied the first floor. At the front of the house was a closed in porch, with windows on all three walls that faced a garden just under the front windows. Just above our porch was my grandparent’s porch, but their porch was outside. It had a wrought iron fence that enclosed it and my grandmother would lean over the fence talking to the neighbors, or watching me as I left the house to ask where I was going. They had a great swing chair towards the back that I used to spend countless hours sitting on and enjoying the views of the street below.

My grandfather was watering the roses that he planted in the front garden with the garden hose. My father was watching him from inside our porch, and had a good view of what my grandfather was doing. My father  decided to have a little fun with my grandfather that day. He called me in and showed me through the front window that my grandfather was watering the roses. My father said, “go upstairs on grandpa’s porch and sprinkle a little water on grandpa. He will never know where it was coming from. Go ahead!”

I thought it was a great idea! Don’t ask me what got into my father’s head that prompted him to annoy his father-in-law. That was just my father. So I ran upstairs to my grandparent’s apartment. My grandmother was in the back room working on her sewing machine. I opened up the cupboard and took out this huge spaghetti pot. I lifted it into the sink and filled it up. It must have held at least 2 gallons of water.

I carried the pot to the porch and had to put it down to open the door. I’m sure as I walked out on the porch my father heard my footsteps from below and anticipated with glee the events that were about to unfold. If he only knew.

I hoisted the heavy pot of water to the top of the railing. I was about 10 years old  so the railing came just about up to my chest. I lined up my aim and let her go.

What my father saw from below was a deluge of water cascading from above landing directly on by grandfather’s head. I’m sure he bust a gut and at the same time knew that he was in deep. The full force of the water landed on my grandfather and the Stetson hat he was wearing flopped down over his ears heavy with water. After getting over the initial shock, my grandfather looked upwards and saw me on the porch with the empty pot in my hands and turned the hose on me as he shouted;  “PEEETA! (SOME UNINTELLIGIBLE ITALIAN WORDS, FOLLOWED BY MORE UNINTELLIGIBLE ITALIAN WORDS) WHATSA DA MATTER WITH YOU!”

The first words out of my mouth were, “DADDY TOLD ME TO DO IT !” The next words out of my grandfather’s mouth was “SAL!!!!”   My grandfather put down the hose and clambered up the front steps to get into our apartment. My father opened the door and took a handkerchief out of his pocket and handed it to my grandfather, being the good son-in-law that he was. “What happened Pop?”, my father said as he was planning on disavowing anything I would say from this point on.

My grandmother got up from her sewing machine to see what all the commotion  was. I quickly passed her as she was walking towards the steps in the hallway that lead to the front door. My father was trying to dry off my grandfather as I came running down the steps and just stopped short of my grandfather’s size 10 boots as they came swinging around to give me a kick. My father gave me a look like he was going to kill me.

My grandfather was angry at me….my father was angry at me…my grandfather was angry at my father…and my mother was angry at both of us.

As my grandfather walked up the stairs to change his wet clothes he was still yelling at me and my father. My father looked at me and said,”I told you a little water!!!!” My mother went upstairs to try to calm my grandfather down.

As the yelling faded into the back rooms my father told me to get out of here, and then just shook his head and laughed.

Here is a quick dish my mother used to make in no time. Yes, even my mother would cut corners from time to time in order  to prepare a quick meal. I call this “Chicken cutlet on the bone”. She would use the same ingredients that she made veal cutlets or chicken cutlets with, only using chicken pieces.  It’s quick, simple and if you are trying to stay away from fried foods, a bit healthier. Four tablespoons of oil spread between an entire chicken is almost cooking fat-free, in my house.

While the chicken is baking you can prepare a side salad or vegetable to go along with the dish.

One night my mother switched plain bread crumbs with corn flake crumbs and made this same dish. Delicious!  The corn flake crumbs add a little sweetness to the chicken. As my mother got older she stayed away from fried foods, which meant we all did. Some things can be baked instead of frying. Others just don’t work as well. This dish does just fine baked.

I hope you try it and enjoy it.

  • 1 whole chicken, cut up or  4 legs and 4 thighs
  • 2 cups plain bread crumbs
  • 3/4 cup Romano grated cheese
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons flat leaf parsley, chopped or two teaspoons dried
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil

Preheat oven to 375

Soak chicken in salted water for 10-15 minutes. Rinse and dry well.

Pour 4 tablespoons of olive oil in baking pan to coat the bottom of the pan

Combine in a bowl bread crumbs, grated cheese, garlic powder, salt, pepper and parsley and mix well.

Have your assembly line set up: Bowl with beaten egg , seasoned with salt and pepper, and dish with bread crumbs. Dip  each piece of chicken in egg , shake off excess then dip it in the bread crumb mixture. Be sure the entire piece is coated in bread crumbs. Place each piece of chicken skin side down in oiled pan. Repeat till all the chicken is done.

Turn each piece over in the pan so  the chicken is now skin side up. If the top of the chicken is too dry you can either use olive oil cooking spray to coat or dribble some olive oil on.

Place in the center of the oven for 1 hour or until chicken is crisp and done.


About Peter Bocchieri

Peter was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY and is a second generation Italian-American. He has a degree in Journalism from Long Island University and is an avid photographer, gardener and pet owner. Now that Peter is retired, he is relaxing at his home in North East Pennsylvania and cooking for his sons, Michael and Joseph, family and friends. Peter's passion for food was inspired by his Mother's and Grandmother's cooking, but at the age of 10 Peter felt he could do it better himself, so he did.
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5 Responses to Italian Baked "Fried" Chicken

  1. alexandra says:

    I can’t tell you how much I enjoy reading your blogs. everytime I do, I am transported to another time. A time that is steeped in tradition and culture. It’s like going on a journey.
    Thank you for writing and sharing these wonderful stories and recipe’s with all of us.
    Keep up the good work!

  2. jr says:

    your lucky he didnt run you over his bannan boat of a car on two drops of water where did you go to shool p.s.204 love you kid.

  3. Peter,

    I remember the whole thing. I saw it happen to grandpa. Boy, did he get mad. However, it was always fun to experience his reaction to practical jokes, especially when I was not the perpertrator of them. These are truly gems of stories that never should be forgotten and told to all the future generations. Keep them coming, I love them.

  4. Louise Grinsell says:

    And Richie…where were you? Peter, I think you should do some detective work and really make sure Richie wasn’t involved some how!

  5. Sharon M says:

    Tried this tonight. Easy & delicious. Love your blog! Was telling my coworkers how well you write and how tempting your recipes are.

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