How to Make Perfectly Crispy Chicken Fingers
Posted on March 1, 2013
March Madness on the brain? You want to have the right finger foods by your side. With that crispy exterior, moist juicy meat and the perfect shape for dunking and dipping, chicken fingers are a winner no matter what’s happening on the court. Want to score big with your family and friends for the next game? Learn how to make chicken fingers and watch your TV room turn into the hottest ticket in the hood. Here’s how:
Cut: You can save yourself a step, by purchasing FreeBird chicken tenders. Of course, if you’re starting from scratch, slice chicken breast into long horizontal strips about 4-inches long and about 1/2 inch in thickness. Strips should be cut evenly, so they all cook at the same rate.
Flour: Place enough flour in a shallow (but wide) baking dish so that you have plenty of room to toss each piece of chicken so that it gets fully coated with flour. Before placing chicken strips in the flour, make sure to season it with salt, pepper and a dash or two of cayenne pepper so that pieces are well spiced from the inside out. Give attention to each piece, coating fully with flour one at a time.
Eggs: Beat 2-3 eggs, depending on your batch size, and pour into another shallow baking dish. Shake excess flour off of each piece of chicken before dipping into egg mixture. Before moving on to the next stage, make sure to allow excess egg coating to drip off so that each piece is evenly coated.
Crumbs: Personalize your chicken fingers by choosing a crumb that works for you. Simple breadcrumbs will work nicely, but Japanese Panko will add extra crunch. For a Southern twist, cornmeal is a great choice; then again matzah meal, butter cracker crumbs and cornflakes could turn out to be your favorite. The key is making sure whatever crumbs you choose are small and uniform so they can adhere to the egg-washed chicken evenly. Coat one piece at a time and line up on a clean plate to prevent the coating from getting gummy and pieces from sticking together while you prepare to pan fry.
Oil: Pour oil into a large high-sided sauté pan so that it covers the bottom. Make sure there is enough oil and plenty of room in the pan for each piece. (If not, brown in batches.). Add strips to oil when it just begins to smoke then turn heat to medium, carefully turning with a spatula until all sides are evenly colored, adding more oil as needed to make sure strips are browning, not burning. Remove to a clean plate or transfer to a foil-lined pan and keep warm in a low oven while cooking additional batches.
Seasoning: Sure you seasoned the flour, but a little kick on top is the stuff of champions. Sprinkle with a little more salt and pepper, toss with fresh chopped herbs like thyme, tarragon or chives for a distinct upscale flair or take on some heat with the addition of chili powder or fajita seasoning.
Dip: Chicken fingers are never fully complete without a delicious dunking sauce. Create your own buttermilk ranch dressing with sour cream, mayo and herbs; mix together a sweet spicy honey mustard; or just put together a trio of your favorite BBQ sauces. Thinking of an upgrade on the old standbys? Try pesto and lemon zest seasoned mayo, cilantro curry yogurt or spicy salsa verde. Either way, you can’t lose!