Homemade chicken fingers are tastier, healthier, and just more satisfying.
Panfried chicken fingers are simply healthier and tastier to make at home. In fact, you don't even need to fry them. Baked chicken fingers are just as delicious. No matter the method, you can choose the breading and season to your own taste. Fresh breadcrumbs are exceptionally good, but panko (Japanese breadcrumbs) adds a super crunchy textural element, for the taste buds and the eyes. Even the gluten-free crowd can claim a win on flavor with quinoa flakes and sesame seeds. You'll never want to buy prepared chicken fingers again once you try these ILOC methods and ingredients!
Equipment: cutting board; chef’s knife; dry measuring cups; measuring spoons; mixing bowls; fork; (3) wide shallow bowls; cast iron skillet or large sauté pan (with straight sides); rimmed sheet pan; tongs; platter; paper towels
4, 6-oz split chicken breasts ½ cup flour 1 teaspoon salt ½ teaspoon pepper 2 eggs, lightly beaten 2 cups homemade breadcrumbs or panko, or 1½ cups quinoa flakes plus ½ cup black & white sesame seeds vegetable oil for frying
1. Slice each chicken breast diagonally into 6 strips, making a total of 24 "tenders." Place them on a dish and set aside.
2. Combine the flour, salt, and pepper in a wide, shallow bowl and set aside. Then beat the egg with a fork in a wide, shallow bowl and set aside. Put the breadcrumbs in a wide, shallow bowl and set aside. From left to right, line up the seasoned flour, egg mixture, and breadcrumbs, respectively.
“Breading is very procedural. It can be a messy proposition if you don’t follow the ILOC way: wet hand, dry hand! ”
3. Dredge one chicken strip in the seasoned flour and shake off excess. Then dip the coated chicken into the egg mixture, then directly into the breadcrumbs. With a dry hand, toss well to coat and set aside. Repeat with the remaining chicken strips.
Breading Is As Easy As 1-2-3
You need three bowls: one shallow bowl with flour and seasonings, a second shallow bowl with eggs and other wet ingredients, and a third shallow bowl with breadcrumbs. Moving from left to right is key, and so is keeping one hand dry and one hand wet. That is, flour the food with your left hand (dry), but dip it in egg with your right hand (wet). Move the food from the egg, shaking off excess, to the breadrcumbs using your wet, right hand. Dredge the food in the breadcrumbs with your dry, left hand and move it to a pan or plate. Never put your dry hand in the eggs, or your wet hand in the flour or breadcrumbs.
“The ILOC way that will change your life in the kitchen if you like baked chicken fingers: grease the breadcrumbs, not the pan.”
4. Heat 1 inch of vegetable oil in a cast iron skillet or large sauté pan over medium-high heat until the surface begins to shimmer. To test if the oil is hot, carefully lower the tip of one chicken finger into the oil. If the chicken finger sizzles and begins to brown, the oil is ready. If nothing happens, the oil is not yet hot, so remove the meat immediately.
5. Depending on the size of your pan, fry 6-8 chicken fingers at a time in 3 or 4 batches. Fry on one side for 2-3 minutes, or until the bottom and edges are golden brown. Turn each chicken finger carefully with tongs in the order in which they entered the pan, and fry for another 2-3 minutes, or until the chicken is fully cooked.
6. Remove the chicken fingers to a large platter or cutting board lined with paper towels to drain the fat. The chicken fingers can be warmed in a 400°F oven in a single layer on a sheet pan for 2 minutes. Serve with dipping sauces, such as BBQ sauce, honey mustard, and orange-ginger (½ cup orange marmalade plus 2 tablespoons orange juice warmed in a small saucepan with 1 teaspoon chopped ginger).
Makes 6 servings.
Baked, Not Fried
If you don’t want to splurge on fried chicken fingers, bake them instead. Preheat the oven to 425°F while you prepare the chicken. Toss the breadcrumbs in 2 tablespoons vegetable oil so that the breadcrumbs are evenly moist but still crumbly. Then follow the breading procedure as noted above. Place the chicken fingers on a rimmed sheet pan in a single layer. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until cooked and golden brown, turning them once at the halfway mark.
Love You, Tender
Every split chicken breast has one tender, that strip of meat that comes apart from the rest of the breast. We call chicken fingers “chicken tenders” because of their similar shape. In other words, if the tender was actually used than it can be called a "chicken tender," otherwise it's a "chicken finger." There’s absolutely no need to buy breasts just to get tenders when you can slice a chicken breast to make something similarly shaped and sized.