+ spicy honey mustard:
Well friends, it is that time. Five months after its conception, SPUDS is still going and going stronger every day! With that in mind, July is going to mark the "level 2" phase of our kitchen journey together.
Level 2? The recipes we have explored so far have been fairly simple, requiring very basic skills like chopping, boiling and pan frying. The ingredients have been equally simple, revolving around basics like eggs, potatoes and chicken. These "Baked Chicken Fingers" will be the first step towards more complex flavors, more interesting recipes and ingredients (still keeping our wallets in mind), the many uses of left-overs and classic college staples like fried rice and pizza. We're going to be packing more protein than your star line-backer and building a stash of take-out and delivery replacements that will save you time and money!
But I digress. I'm just that excited! These fingers are courtesy of Jamie Oliver and his cookbook "Food Revolution". I found the recipe for "Crunchy Garlic Fingers" online at Oprah.com one lazy afternoon. Immediately it reminded me of a particular college friend who amazed us with her ability to eat at least 6-7 double breaded, homemade chicken fingers at a sitting. Did I mention she's the tiniest little thing too!? She's now a graduate student studying half a world away from real American chicken fingers but that doesn't mean the rest of us can't enjoy them in her much lamented absence!
I was intrigued with this recipe because it had directions for baking the fingers as well as pan frying them. Did I also mention it had lemon zest in it? The lemon and garlic combined brought a lot of flavor to the coating and paired very nicely with the honey mustard. But, if you are really watching your weight just a spritz of lemon juice or a little spicy mustard would have been glorious too. One chicken breast was sufficient for two people but if you plan on feeding a small army, or at least 1 growing college boy, double the recipe or, as Jamie suggests, bread the chicken breasts whole and then slice after baking. This will require only one batch of breading. The honey mustard recipe is from allrecipes.com and makes about a 3/4 cup. I happened to be using a horseradish mustard, because I like it hot, but plain yellow mustard works beautifully and just who doesn't have a bottle of that stuff in the fridge?
Notes on Ingredients: Mustard keeps for ages in the fridge. I prefer spicy or Dijon because they have a little something extra but even plain yellow mustard can be used in a pinch. Both garlic and honey keep well at room temperature and do double duty in hundreds of recipes (everything from dressings to sauces to main dishes). Try to keep both on hand for fast, simple flavor boosters. And remember, buy your chicken when it is on sale and freeze it in individual servings. Just think ahead when you get ready to defrost it. Placing it in a bowl of warm, never hot, water for a few minutes is an easy way to speed up the process. Just be sure to pat the chicken dry before breading.
Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce:
1/2 cup mayo
2 tablespoons plain mustard
1 tablespoon Dijon or spicy mustard (mix in a dash or two of hot sauce if you don't have this)
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
1. Combine all ingredients in a small bowl.
2. Cover and refrigerate while you prepare the chicken.
3. For best results, cover and chill overnight.
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
6 saltine crackers or 1/2 cup dry cereal (such as corn flakes or rice crispies)
2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
salt and fresh pepper
1 heaping tablespoon flour
1 large egg
1 large skinless, boneless chicken breast
1. Preheat to 450.
2. Peel the garlic and zest the lemon.
3. Crumble the crackers (or cereal) in a large bowl or in a food processor. Add the garlic, butter, salt and pepper and lemon zest and combine thoroughly. If you don't have a food processor use your fingers or a fork to combine the butter and cracker mixture until it is combine and in fine crumbles.
4. Put flour on a second plate. Crack the egg into a bowl or plate and beat with a fork.
5. Cut each breast into strips, about an 1 inch thick.
7. Dip the chicken into the flour mixture to help the egg and crackers coat the breast. Then, dip the breasts into the egg mixture and then crumbs. Coat thoroughly, pressing crumbs to help them stick.
8. Place the chicken on a sheet pan and bake for 12-13 minutes or until cooked thoroughly. If unsure if the chicken is done, sacrifice on finger and cut it in half. If the meat is opaque and the juices are clear then the chicken is done.
9. Serve warm with honey mustard or your preferred dipping sauce.