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Paula Deen's sons defend her and serve low-cal Oven-Fried Chicken Po'Boys recipe

See the article for a low-cal version.
See the article for a low-cal version.
Creative Commons

Growing up in Paula Deen's Southern cooking empire, brothers Jamie and Bobby Deen consumed fattening versions of childhood favorites, from deep-fried Mac and Cheese to Twinkie Pie. Now as young adults, they're trying to carve out their own careers as chefs by making healthy versions of their mom's calorie-laden recipes. And, as they told Bethenny Frankel on her Feb. 18 talk show, they also are attempting to defend their mother's reputation.

Chef Paula Deen's initial damage to her reputation began in her own kitchen. Receiving heat for recipes such as her bacon-beef-burger sandwiched between two glazed doughnuts and Peanut Butter Cheese Fudge (the ingredient list includes two boxes of confectioner's sugar), Paula initially attempted to hide her diagnosis of diabetes.

Then, after admitting her diagnosis, Paula continued to feature recipes that constituted diet disasters. Followed by her racial slur scandal, Paula ended up in hot water that was "a very personal thing," her sons told Bethenny.

Both Jamie and Bobby confessed that because they play roles in the family business, their mother's scandals impacted them personally and professionally.

However, both are trying to differentiate themselves from their mothers by focusing on healthy recipes. Bobby has even authored several diet cookbooks: "From Mama's Table to Mine: Everybody's Favorite Comfort Foods at 350 Calories or Less" (click for details) and "Bobby Deen's Everyday Eats: 120 All-New Recipes, All Under 350 Calories, All Under 30 Minutes."

Jamie and Bobby also emphasized to Bethenny that they hope their mother can re-create her career and prove her strength as a chef and as a woman.

As an example of how he's succeeded in cutting calories, Bobby dished up a "Po'Boys" recipe. While traditional versions of these Southern classics can top 1,500 calories, Bobby has created a version that has less than 350 calories. He explained to Bethenny that he uses swaps such as light mayonnaise and low-fat buttermilk, while baking rather than frying food. Try Bobby's recipe below.

Oven-Fried Chicken Po'Boys Recipe


  • 1/4 cup low-fat buttermilk
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, each cut in half crosswise
  • 1 cup whole-wheat panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup light mayonnaise
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 4 multigrain wraps (8-inch diameter)
  • 4 romaine lettuce leaves
  • 1 large tomato, sliced into 8 rounds

In a large bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, garlic, mustard, 1/2 teaspoon of the hot sauce, and salt and pepper to taste. Add the chicken and toss to coat. Marinate at room temperature for 5 minutes. (If you have the time, go on ahead and marinate the chicken for longer. Feel free to get the chicken into the marinade the night before if that's easier for you.)

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine the panko with salt to taste. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and set a wire rack on top. Working with one piece at a time, remove the chicken from the buttermilk mixture (allowing the excess to drip off) and dredge the chicken completely in the panko. Grease the chicken lightly with cooking spray and bake until it is cooked through, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, lemon juice and remaining 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce.

When the chicken is done, spread the mayonnaise on one side of the wraps and top each one with an equal amount of chicken, a lettuce leaf, and 2 slices of tomato. Roll up and serve warm or at room temperature.

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