Skip the added oil and mess that's associated with traditional frying and make super-crisp "fried" chicken in the oven. A zesty marinade filled with lemon, rosemary and spices keeps the chicken tender and flavorful. Cornmeal and whole wheat breadcrumbs make a crunchy coating while baking on a rack ensures no soggy bottoms on the chicken.
Finely grate 1 teaspoon of zest from the lemon; set aside. Squeeze the juice of the lemon into a medium bowl. Whisk in the milk, sugar, and cayenne until the sugar and cayenne are dissolved. Add the sprigs of rosemary and garlic. Pierce each chicken piece several times with a fork, add to the milk mixture, turning to coat well. Cover, and marinate in the refrigerator for 2 hours.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Lay the bread on a baking sheet in a single layer. Bake, turning a few times, until the bread is crisp and dry, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Cool completely. Break into large pieces and pulse in the bowl of a food processor until it forms coarse crumbs.
Increase the oven temperature to 375 degrees F. In a shallow dish combine the bread crumbs with the corn meal, Parmesan (if using), chopped rosemary, reserved 1 teaspoon zest, and season with salt and pepper. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and top with a wire rack. Coat the rack well with nonstick cooking spray.
Working with one piece at a time, remove the chicken from the marinade, allowing the excess to drip off. Press into the bread crumb mixture until the chicken is well coated and place on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining chicken and crumbs. Mist the chicken with nonstick cooking spray.
Bake until the chicken is crisp and a thermometer inserted into the thickest part registers 160 degrees F, about 50 to 55 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Nutritional analysis of 1/2 of total recipe for breading mixture