If I know you as well as I think I do–which is technically speaking not at all–then you can’t live without a crispy chicken finger. The basis of this judgment has been drawn from my conclusion that all living, breathing organisms have innate tendencies to seek three very crucial things: water, air, and buffalo chicken.
I draw all types of scientific conclusions.
Next time I’ll tell you about the theory of relativity as illustrated through cupcakes.
But today, we turn our bright eyes to the chicken finger. The crisp-crusted, moist and tender-middled, fiery red sauce-slathered, the someone-get-me-a-bib-and-for-cryin’-out-loud-where’s-the-damn-blue-cheese-dip?!?…chicken finger.
Here’s my methodology: Lots of healthy chicken tenders are baked. I get that. I appreciate that. And I love comfort food makeovers. Really I do.
But I’ve never bitten into a baked tender that altogether satisfied my intense cravings for foods that end in cutesy words like stix and dippers, and generally any soul-soothing noshable at a pub.
So I don’t want to solely bake these chicken fingers. But I don’t want to fully fry them either. What I’ve discovered is the magic of partially pan-frying. To do this, I cook the chicken a little more than halfway on the stove top in a modest amount of oil because I want a browned and crisped crust, but don’t necessarily want them to be drenched in oil, as tempting as that may be. The reason I don’t cook them completely in the pan is because that would require them staying in the hot pan for a lengthy amount of time, and unless I use a lot of oil, the fingers have a tendency to burn.
The beauty is that I’m still developing that golden brown, faintly greasy crust, and the tenders stay on the healthier side of things. Searing the breading on both sides allows me to lock in the moisture of the bird while still developing a crunchy coating. I then finish them in the oven so that they cook through. And then I dunk them in spicy, orange-hued hot sauce and dip them in creamy, cool blue cheese dressing.
Just come over and I’ll make you some. We’ll watch Bill Nye and talk science.
- 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast tenderloins
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 3 large egg whites beaten with 2 tablespoons hot sauce
- ⅔ cup plain dried bread crumbs
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon steak seasoning (I like Montreal Steak Seasoning)
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- ½ cup hot sauce (I like Frank’s Red Hot)
- Preheat your oven to 400° F. Spray a wire rack with cooking spray and set it on top of a large baking sheet.
- Place 3 shallow bowls in a row. Fill the first with the flour, the second with the egg and hot sauce, and the third with the bread crumbs mixed with steak seasoning.
- One by one, lightly dredge each tenderloin first in the flour, shaking off the excess, then dip it into the egg, and finally press it into the bread crumbs, taking care to coat both sides. Place the coated tenderloin on a plate and repeat the process with the remaining chicken.
- In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium-high heat, and add half of the chicken, spacing them evenly. Only add half of the chicken so you do not overcrowd your pan. Cook the chicken, undisturbed, until they develop a nice crispy crust on one side, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate and repeat the cooking process with the remaining half of the tenderloins.
- Place all of the chicken on the prepared rack and bake until the chicken is crispy and completely baked through, 8 to 10 minutes. Fill a shallow bowl with the hot sauce. Dip each tender into the hot sauce, just to quickly coat. Set the pieces back on the wire rack until you have finished coating all the chicken. Serve immediately with blue cheese dressing for dipping and a side of celery sticks.
Nutrition Information: Calories 288, Fat 9g, Carb 20g, Fiber 1g, Sugars 1g, Protein 29g