Quick-baking Chicken Dish A Hit With Scranton Family
If you come to Domaine McDonnell’s house, you can expect a homecooked meal.
The West Scranton resident’s family and friends know her for her skills in the kitchen. McDonnell’s daughter, Shannon Rucker, and her family live across the street. McDonnell’s grandchildren, Ryan, 7; Colin, 5; and Kylie, 3, who call their grandmother “Domie,” are frequent guests at her home, both while their parents are at work and for dinner.
While the family has lots of mealtime favorites, one stands out: French-Fried Chicken Bake. McDonnell came up with the recipe — made with chicken breast, spinach, cheddar cheese and French’s crispy fried onions — around the time her daughter was pregnant with her oldest, and it’s been a hit ever since.
“I’m always experimenting, and one day I came up with this,” McDonnell said during a recent afternoon inside the home she shares with her husband, Fran.
The simple dish bakes quick, though it takes some time to put together, McDonnell said. She typically fries the chicken ahead of time, sometimes the night before, and assembles and bakes the dish later. McDonnell only uses French’s brand crispy friend onions. She also recommended cooks use canned spinach.
“I’ve tried it with fresh spinach then fresh broccoli and canned broccoli, and it just doesn’t taste the same. It doesn’t come out as good,” McDonnell said, adding Del Monte is her brand of choice. “It’s something about the canned spinach. It needs that moisture to bake good. You would never be able to tell it was canned, though you really taste the cheese. (The spinach) just adds that subtle taste.”
After a helping of French-Fried Chicken Bake, it’s no wonder McDonnell’s is the place to be for dinner. The hearty meal offered great flavors from the melted cheese and juicy chicken. The spinach wasn’t overwhelming and added a nice, green taste. This truly was a meal that tasted like home.
McDonnell’s recipes are in high demand by those in her life, from appetizers such as Ham and Cheese Crescent Roll Ring for book club to her famous salads and Baked Beans made with ham, bacon, brown sugar and more that she brings to family parties.
“They go crazy for it,” she said, adding that her mom, Carol Gramigna, who passed down a love for cooking, is typically McDonnell’s “sous chef” for family parties.
McDonnell’s best dinner guests, her grandchildren, each have their favorite recipes, too. Kylie loves her grandmother’s pasta, and Colin prefers homemade meatballs.
Ryan is partial to his Domie’s Breaded Pork Chops and just recently brought home a “coupon” he made at school for McDonnell, which is good for one night where he will help his grandmother make dinner. They will make his favorite, of course, which is something McDonnell can’t pass up.
“It’s so nice to have the family close and have them here for dinner,” she said. “Whatever they want, I’ll make.”
Contact the writer: firstname.lastname@example.org; 570-348-9127; @gmazurTT on Twitter
Domaine McDonnell’s French-Fried Chicken Bake
10 boneless chicken breasts,
1 cup flour
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
Garlic powder, onion powder, pepper and seasoned salt, to taste
1 (13.5-ounce) can spinach, drained
(McDonnell uses Del Monte)
1 large can French’s crispy fried onions
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons milk
Crack eggs in a bowl and add milk; mix well.
Place flour on wax paper or paper plate. (More flour may be needed.) Dip pounded chicken in egg mixture then flour.
Add olive oil and butter to fry pan. Fry chicken until brown. Season well with garlic powder, onion powder, seasoned salt and pepper.
Place fried chicken in glass baking dish. Spread spinach over chicken. Sprinkle cheddar cheese over chicken. Top with crispy fried onions. Bake covered with foil at 350 F for 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes uncovered.