Chicken Fingers to the Rescue

Everyone has those days when they don’t want to cook, but eating out isn’t an option. You know, the days when nothing goes right, and you are tired, but the thought of eating out just doesn’t appeal. What do you eat on those days? PBJ sandwiches, breakfast for dinner, salad?

The other day I had one of those days. We had just returned from our family reunion over the weekend and were trying to get back into the routine – catch up on laundry, restock at the grocery store and get the house back in order (how did it get so messy while we were gone?). Then I found water coming up out of the floor drain in the basement. Not a great way to begin the week.

I really didn’t want to make dinner, but we had been eating away from home for four days. And Calvin, picky (discerning?) eater that he is, had been eating a lot of grilled cheese sandwiches. I wanted to make him something else, and I was too tired to want to go out. I had planned on making homemade chicken fingers before all the mess with the basement, and I had all the stuff, so I found the energy somewhere to make the chicken strips.

Thankfully, after a day of cleaning up the basement and arranging for plumbers, mixed in with running errands, the chicken fingers turned out beautifully. Nice and crispy and golden brown. I make these often, because they are one of the few ways Calvin will eat “real” chicken. But sometimes I hurry too much, or adjust the baking time or temp to mesh with whatever else I am making and they aren’t as good as they could be. This time I got everything right. Now if I could only fix the plumbing issues as easily (second installment of that story tomorrow).

Baked Chicken Fingers
From The Cook’s Life
Serves 4

Feel free to adjust the spices to suit your tastes. If you would rather use chopped garlic instead of the powder, mix it in with the eggs so it will be less likely to burn in the oven.

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup breadcrumbs (panko, regular or homemade)
salt
pepper
paprika
garlic powder
cayenne
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 eggs
2-3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and lightly grease a baking sheet or broiler pan. These get slightly crispier on the bottoms if you use a broiler pan or a rack, but they are fine on a baking sheet.

Cut chicken into strips. It is up to you how small you want to go. I usually cut off the tenderloin and then cut the rest of the breast into two or three pieces, the long way, depending on how big it is, to get three or four pieces from each breast. Trim off all visible fat and nasty bits of gristle.

In a shallow bowl or on a plate, combine breadcrumbs and spices. Use a few healthy shakes of each, adjusting them to your preferences. You might want to go easy on the cayenne, unless you like things really spicy. Drizzle the seasoned crumbs with olive oil and mix well with a fork until all the crumbs are evenly moistened with the oil.

In a separate bowl, beat the eggs until well combined. Sprinkle the chicken strips with flour, turn and sprinkle again to coat all surfaces with flour. Dip the flour-coated chicken in the eggs, then in the crumb mixture. Press lightly on the chicken to get more crumbs to stick. Gently place chicken on prepared baking sheet.

Bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes, depending on size. Serve hot. These are best the day you make them, though leftovers are tasty, just not as crispy.

Download the recipe here.

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