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Better Than Store-Bought – Buttermilk Fried Chicken Fingers with Ranch Coleslaw

Chicken fingers are one of those things that you probably have a love/hate relationship with. They make a great snack or party appetizer and without a doubt are one those things that most kids love to eat. I remember when Sean was little and went through a phase that no matter where we were – at home, visiting family or out to dinner – he just wanted chicken fingers. The problem is that so many of the chicken fingers you get in the store, from fast food restaurants or even casual family restaurants just do not taste get, at least to adults. There are lots of different chicken finger recipes you can try out there, but this one from Epicurious.com for buttermilk fried chicken fingers was a big hit. They are easy to make, have great flavor and everyone will love them. And what better pairing to make it a good lunch or dinner item than putting it with some ranch coleslaw from Bon Appetit?

Buttermilk Fried Chicken Fingers

For the buttermilk marinade:

3 1/2 cups buttermilk

3 1/2 cups milk

1 small onion, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices

2 medium jalapeños, sliced (optional)

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon hot sauce

2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into 2×4-inch strips, or 2 pounds chicken tenders

For the seasoned flour:

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons granulated garlic

2 tablespoons onion powder

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon dried thyme

2 teaspoons ground sage

1 tablespoon smoked paprika

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper

Canola oil, for frying

Homemade or store-bought ranch dressing, for serving (homemade recipe below)

In a wide, shallow bowl, combine the buttermilk, milk, onion, jalapeño, salt, and hot sauce. Add the chicken pieces, cover the bowl and refrigerate it for 24 hours.

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Set 2 cooling racks over rimmed baking sheets lined with aluminum foil. In a large bowl, combine the flour, granulated garlic, onion powder, thyme, sage, paprika, cayenne, salt, and pepper.

In a large cast iron pot or Dutch oven, pour in enough oil to come up to 2 inches. Set the pot over medium-high heat until the oil registers 350 degrees on a deep-fry thermometer. Working in batches of 4 to 5 pieces, remove the chicken from the marinade, shaking each piece to remove any vegetables and excess liquid, and dredge the chicken pieces in the seasoned flour. Fry the chicken pieces, turning once, until they are golden and cooked through, about 6 to 8 minutes total per batch. Transfer the chicken to the wire racks and warm them in the oven while frying the remaining batches.

Serve the chicken fingers with the ranch dressing, if desired.

Ranch Coleslaw

For the Ranch Dressing:

¼ cup buttermilk

¼ cup sour cream

¼ cup mayonnaise

2 tablespoons finely chopped dill

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

2 teaspoons garlic powder

Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper

For the Coleslaw:

3 cups thinly sliced red and green cabbage

1 large carrot, peeled and thinly sliced

½ cup Ranch Dressing

Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper

To make the ranch dressing, stir together the buttermilk, sour cream, mayonnaise, dill, vinegar, and garlic powder in a small bowl; season with salt and pepper.

To make the coleslaw, toss the cabbage and carrot with the ranch dressing in a medium bowl; season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate the coleslaw for 1 hour to allow the flavors to meld before serving.

For the chicken fingers recipe, I actually cut the amounts in half for the recipe I was making because it seemed like a lot both for the marinade and the flour and I was only making 1 pound of chicken. It worked out well for me as I did not end up with a lot of leftover flour and the marinade did its job very well. The chicken fingers picked up great flavor from the buttermilk marinade and the seasoned flour and had a nice little zing to them from the hot sauce. For the coleslaw, I actually doubled the recipe for the dressing so I could use some with the chicken fingers and have plenty leftover for the slaw. The taste of the dressing is spot on in terms of the ranch you would expect to get and it really makes the coleslaw stand out. I used the food processor to cut up the cabbage and carrots so they would be really fine, but you could easily slice it yourself or even buy a store-bought coleslaw mix to use instead. I just happened to pick up carrots and cabbage at the farmers’ market this weekend and it was a good use for them. The chicken fingers are better anything you can buy in the frozen section of your supermarket or what you will get at restaurants and you get to control the ingredients going into them so you can make them taste how you or your kids will like them best. The coleslaw is a perfect side dish for sandwiches, burgers, ribs, pulled pork (which I will be making this week) and just about any summertime lunch or dinner. I got a picture of the coleslaw but forgot to get one of the chicken fingers. I will make them again to get another picture and post it here.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!

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A New Twist on Chicken Fingers – Pretzel-Crusted Chicken Fingers

I had made some classic chicken fingers not that long ago along with some homemade dipping sauces and the grocery store was having a really good sale on chicken tenderloins so I picked up another batch of them and was looking for something else to do. Sure, I could have just cut up the chicken and used it for something like a stir-fry or a warm chicken salad, but I wanted to try something else with chicken fingers again. Lo and behold along came the newest issue of Cook’s Country magazine in the mail shortly after and in it was a recipe for pretzel-crusted chicken fingers. I thought this was a good one to try to see if I could get some extra crunch and flavor out of the chicken. The recipe is very simple and only takes a few minutes to make, so you can easily make this anytime you want some chicken fingers.

Pretzel-Crusted Chicken Fingers

6 ounces thin pretzel sticks

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

2 eggs

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1 1/2 pounds chicken tenderloins, trimmed

Salt and pepper

6 tablespoons vegetable oil

Process the pretzel sticks in a food processor until they are finely ground, about 20 seconds. you should end up with about 1 1/2 cups of pretzel crumbs. Transfer the pretzel crumbs to a shallow dish. Spread the all-purpose flour in a second shallow dish. Beat the eggs and the Dijon mustard in a third shallow dish.

Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and season it well with salt and pepper. Dredge the chicken pieces in the flour, shaking off any excess. Then dip the chicken pieces in the egg mixture, allowing any excess to drip off. Finally, dip the chicken pieces in the pretzel crumbs, pressing on the chicken gently in the crumbs so the crumbs adhere well.

Heat 3 tablespoons of the vegetable oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until the oil is shimmering. Cook half of the breaded chicken tenderloins until they are golden brown and cooked through, about 5 minutes per side. Adjust the heat along the way if the crust seems like it is beginning to burn. Transfer the chicken fingers to a paper towel-lined plate, discard the oil, and wipe out the skillet with paper towels. Repeat the process with the remaining 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil and the remaining chicken tenderloins. Serve the chicken fingers with your favorite dipping sauces.

You want to make sure you use the thin pretzel sticks for this recipe and not the thick pretzel rods. The thin pretzels will grind easier and are not as dense and hard as the rods, giving you better crumbs for the crust. You get a really nice flavor from the pretzel crust and just a hint of the Dijon mustard along the way to give them great flavor. This is a great recipe to offer up for the kids who love chicken fingers but want something a little different or as a quick dinner or to serve at a party. You can make large batches of them and freeze them cooked for later use at another time.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!

pretzel crusted chicken fingers

 

 
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Posted by on May 30, 2014 in Appetizers, Cooking, Dinner, Lunch, Picnic Fare, Poultry, Snacks

 

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A Treat for the Whole Family – Baked Honey Barbecue Chicken Fingers

For many adults, just hearing the words “chicken fingers” is enough to make them cringe. They immediately think back to the days when the only things their young children would eat were chicken fingers, tenders, McNuggets or whatever else that happened to be called that are sold in the frozen food aisle of your grocery store, at the local fast food restaurant or any of the dozens of family style convenience restaurants around today. While you may not be thrilled with the notion of what you get in those frozen bags, there are plenty of alternatives out there that you can try making on your own that taste good so that everyone in the family will enjoy them. This particular recipe, that I picked up from Sally’s Baking Addiction, covers just that, giving you a tasty chicken fingers alternative that get away from the frying and offer you a baked alternative that tastes great.

Baked Honey Barbecue Chicken Fingers

3/4 cup barbecue sauce (whatever your favorite may be)

1/4 cup honey

1/2 cup whole wheat or all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

2 eggs, beaten

1 1/2 cups panko breadcrumbs (or more, if needed)

1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts or chicken tenders

Nonstick cooking spray

Combine the barbecue sauce and the honey in a large bowl. If you are using chicken breasts, pound the chicken breasts between two sheets of plastic wrap to 1/4-inch thickness and cut the breasts into strips. If you are using chicken tenders, cut them in half lengthwise. Add the chicken strips to the bowl with the barbecue sauce and honey and stir so all of the chicken is evenly coated. Cover the bowl tightly and marinate the chicken in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes and up to 6 hours. The longer you marinade, the more flavorful the chicken will be.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicon baking mat or coat the sheet with nonstick cooking spray.

Combine the flour. salt, pepper and the smoked paprika in a shallow dish. Pour the beaten eggs into another shallow dish. Pour the panko breadcrumbs into a third shallow dish. Coat each chicken strip with flour, shaking off any excess. Next. dip the floured chicken in the egg and allow any excess egg to drip off. Then roll the chicken strip in the panko breadcrumbs, coating completely before shaking off any excess. Place the chicken strips on the prepared baking sheet and repeat the process until all of the chicken has been coated. Spray each chicken strip with the nonstick cooking spray to help seal the breading to the chicken, preventing the breading from staying raw and allowing it to bake into the chicken strips.

Bake the chicken fingers in the preheated oven for 10 minutes. Turn each piece over and continue baking until the outside of the chicken is crisp and the centers of the chicken pieces are cooked through, about another 10 to 12 minutes. Serve the chicken fingers with extra barbecue sauce for dipping.

The great thing about this recipe is that you can make a large batch and freeze any extras that you may have to use when you need a quick dinner for the kids or yourself or just want an easy snack. These are perfect for a meal any night with some homemade fries (I made some homemade baked sweet potato fries with ours) or you can use these for any type of buffet when you are having a party and you know kids may be around. They are also great snacks for watching the game or when you have a crowd over. You get good crunch from the breadcrumb mixture and underneath is great flavor from the barbecue sauce and the honey. This is definitely one to remember and you can experiment with this also, perhaps making the chicken fingers ranch flavored instead of barbecue with some spices, or maybe even adding some Parmesan to the breadcrumbs, eliminating the barbecue sauce and substituting tomato sauce to have an Italian-style chicken fingers. There’s lots of room to use your imagination with this one and the best part is you have control over the ingredients so you know what goes into each one, and they are baked, making them a better choice for you.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!

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Jennifer Probst

a little bit naughty a little bit nice

Laissez Faire

Letting Life Lead

simple cooking recipes

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