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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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Use Up Those Easter Eggs in a Classic Cobb Salad

If you are like our home you ended up with at least a dozen brightly colored hard-boiled eggs after Sunday and needed to try to find a way to use them all this week. Sure, you can make the standard egg salad for lunches or even just enjoy a hard-boiled egg for breakfast or as a snack during the day, but you can also make good use of them in an easy meal. Cobb salad has always been one of my favorite and I have ordered it out a number of times for a meal when I want something a little different. It is the perfect combination of vegetables, protein and some nice additions like avocado, egg and blue cheese. First made at the Brown Derby restaurant in Los Angeles by the owner, Robert Cobb, I got this recipe from Saveur magazine. While this recipe has the traditional dressing recipe along with it, I actually made my own dressing, which I will share following the recipe for the salad.

Classic Cobb Salad

FOR THE DRESSING:


¾ cup vegetable or canola oil
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
¾ teaspoon dry mustard
½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
¼ teaspoon sugar
1 clove garlic, minced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

FOR THE SALAD:


½ head iceberg lettuce, cored and shredded
½ head romaine lettuce, chopped
½ bunch watercress, some of the stems trimmed, chopped
2 ounces blue cheese, crumbled
6 strips cooked bacon, roughly chopped
3 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and cut into ½ inch cubes
2 medium tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and cut into ½ inch cubes
1 boneless skinless chicken breast, cooked and cut into ½ inch cubes
1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and cut into ½ inch cubes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons minced chives

To make the dressing: Combine the vegetable or canola oil, olive oil, red wine vinegar, lemon juice, dry mustard, Worcestershire sauce, sugar, and garlic in a blender. Purée the ingredients to make a smooth dressing and season with salt and pepper to taste. Set the dressing aside (or refrigerate, covered, for up to 1 week).

To make the salad: On a large platter, combine the iceberg and romaine lettuces along with the watercress. Arrange the blue cheese, bacon, eggs, tomatoes, chicken, and avocado on top of the greens in neat rows. To serve, drizzle the salad with dressing, season with salt and pepper, and top with the chives. Alternatively, toss everything together in a bowl.

It is very quick and easy and tastes great. I actually added some black olives to the one I made along with some sliced English cucumber and red onion to help round things out. I also used mozzarella and Monterey Jack cheese instead of the blue cheese since we did not have any on hand and Michelle and Sean are not big fans. Instead of using the traditional dressing, I opted to make my own buttermilk ranch dressing using another recipe I got from Saveur magazine. It is a simple way to make your own dressing, tastes better than most of the things you can get in a bottle and costs less for you to make.

Buttermilk Ranch Dressing

1 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon onion salt
1⁄4 teaspoon dried chives
1⁄4 teaspoon dried parsley
1⁄4 teaspoon garlic powder
1⁄4 teaspoon salt
1⁄4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
Pinch ground dried oregano
1 cup buttermilk

Put the mayonnaise, onion salt, chives, parsley, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and oregano into a medium mixing bowl and stir to combine. Beat the mayonnaise mixture with an electric mixer on low-speed for about 5 seconds, then increase the speed to medium and beat until the mixture is smooth, about 20 seconds. Scrape the dressing down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Increase the speed to high and gradually add the buttermilk, beating constantly until all the buttermilk is incorporated and the dressing is very smooth, about 2 minutes more.

Cover the dressing and refrigerate the dressing for at least 12 hours. Stir the dressing well before serving. The dressing will keep, refrigerated in a cover container, for up to 2 weeks.

It has great flavor thanks to the spices and I thickened it up a little bit by adding some plain yogurt to it as well. You could easily use this as a dip as well if you wanted to or as a flavoring for other meals, like a topping for burgers.

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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Posted by on April 23, 2014 in Cooking, Dinner, Dressings, Leftovers, Lunch, Salad

 

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Jennifer Probst

a little bit naughty a little bit nice

Laissez Faire

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