Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Chicken Fingers of the Gods


I don't love chicken fingers. Not that I hate them, but I don't think of them as the type of food that I would choose to eat, cause, say, it was my birthday. But I'm not 10 years old today, and my son is, so chicken fingers it is. Having said that, frozen chicken fingers are as close to Frankenfood as anything I have ever seen. Don't get me wrong, I floss with trans-fat and believe in the healing powers of sausage. But those bread product filled frozen chicken product fingers are just disgusting.

One thing I have discovered about pan fried fingers is that it is less about the actual coating and more about the prep of the chicken fingers beforehand and more about soaking them first. I have used Japanese bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, cornmeal, breadcrumbs and flour, all with a decent result. What's best? If your eating chicken fingers, the answer is whatever you happen to have in your kitchen.

INGREDIENTS TO BUY

Package Chicken Breasts, boneless and skinless (some people like Kosher because
it fries easier and you don't have to add any salt to anything
Whole Milk enough to fill a bowl to soak chicken
Kosher Salt
Pepper to taste
Corn Meal(white or yellow)
One egg, beaten
White flour, bread crumbs, Japanese Bread crumbs
or some other such crumb like thing.
Oil for pan frying. I like 1/2 olive oil and
1/2 canola (which cuts down on the smoke)

KITCHEN EQUIPMENT YOU WILL NEED

Good knife to cut chicken
Heavy bottom frying pan (large is better, cause you can cook more at once). I like cast iron because it is cheap, cooks evenly, and I have no problem with its weight.
Several bowls to hold milk, breadcrumbs
Spatula (metal so it doesn't melt)
Measuring spoons
A paper towel covered plate to put cooked chicken on

INSTRUCTIONS

Take Chicken and cut into even sized "fingers." I find that you can get 3 or 4 per breast. Try to keep them a somewhat similar size so they all take about the same amount of time to cook. There is often some membrane or gristle on the breast. Its worth it to cut it off. Drop the pieces in milk and the beaten egg(add 1 teaspoon of salt for each cup of milk that you use) and put the whole thing in the fridge (cause Salmonella sucks) Leave it at least 20 minutes and for up to an hour or more.

While this is happening mix together about one cup of cornmeal, one cup of the other crumb or flour product you are using and two teaspoons of salt. Fill the pan with oil to about 1/4 inch or so.

When you are ready to cook, remove the chicken from the fridge. Heat the oil in the pan to a little less than smoking (in all honesty, just put it on high and if you don't see smoke its cool). Take the chicken pieces, remove them from the egg/milk mix, shake them, and dredge them in the crumbs. Place in the pan. There should be a little room in between pieces.

In the best of all situations, you would know exactly when to turn the chicken so its entirely brown on one side and ready. Its better to have light tan chicken fingers than black ones. Turning a lot is fine. They are done when they feel firm to hard to the touch. Feel free to cut into one if you are not sure. It usually takes 8 minutes to cook. Tastes like chicken. Is good with ketchup or mustard.

3 comments:

jen k said...

Thanks for the great tips. For those of us stuck eating chicken fingers off our ten and six and one year old sons' plates, this is very helpful. How about your take on mac and cheese next?

lisa said...

I never knew about soaking it in milk... I continue to marvel at how I learn at your feet- or fingers. I also can't believe that you are able to sound so perfectly curmodgeonly in print.

Robin said...

now if we could just teach the 10-year-olds how to clean up. i am sure there are historical references here.