Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Chicken fingers that don't suck


Fat Guy
 Share

Recommended Posts

I'm in the process of figuring out how to make chicken fingers for our son. I can't stand the thought of using store-bought frozen chicken fingers. Not only are they full of crappy ingredients, and not only do they taste bad, but also they're ridiculously overpriced compared to fresh chicken.

If it's possible to make good chicken fingers in the oven, without the need to deal with messy frying on the stovetop, that's even better.

Ideally, I'd like to be able to fabricate a lot of these, freeze them and then be able to heat a few of them (or have someone else, like a babysitter, heat them) at a time in the toaster oven.

Any thoughts?

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My first thought is WHY? Why even go there in the first place? Make something else his favorte staple, instead. My daughter loved stuffed grape leaves of any variety when she was a toddler, steamed string beans, bean 'dip' for her dippyy things(breadsticks, rusks, pita bread, toast soldiers, raw vegetables) and fruit dipped in soy sauce or balsamic vinegar. My neighbor's son couldn't survive without his little bowls of rice and string beans. I mean, he had to eat his rice and string beans EVERYWHERE! His mom was glad when he was out of diapers, LOL.

What I'm saying is, with a dad of such expanded tastes, chicken fingers is kind of eh. Oh, BTW, stuffed grape leaves freeze well, and they micorwave in 2 minutes in a serving of 3.

More Than Salt

Visit Our Cape Coop Blog

Cure Cutaneous Lymphoma

Join the DarkSide---------------------------> DarkSide Member #006-03-09-06

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I use a sweet-hot mustard from trader joe's as the "glue", if i don't want to do a egg, flour, crumb deal, then pat some panko onto some chicken breast (or tender) strips. you can bake or fry these, and kids do like them. a nice apricot preserve/soy dipping sauce is tasty.

i spoze they would freeze okay.

just make sure the lad knows that real chickens don't have "fingers"...

"Laughter is brightest where food is best."

www.chezcherie.com

Author of The I Love Trader Joe's Cookbook ,The I Love Trader Joe's Party Cookbook and The I Love Trader Joe's Around the World Cookbook

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Maybe try this recipe for fake fried chicken? I can't imagine that it wouldn't freeze, after cooking, for a quick reheat in a toaster oven. Chicken fingers can be good, but the stuff from the freezer aisle at the supermarket can be nasty.

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've made non-fried chicken, including cutlets and fingers, in the oven with a nice crispy coating by first coating the chicken in a mayo-mustard mix (2:1 or 3:1), then rolling them in fresh breadcrumbs and parmesan (2:1 or 1:1) seasoned with what looked good: salt, pepper, oregano, thyme, whatever I'm trying to use up.

I have no idea how these would freeze or more importantly if the coating would stay on through a freeze. They're really good fresh and hot, though.

Marcia.

Don't forget what happened to the man who suddenly got everything he wanted...he lived happily ever after. -- Willy Wonka

eGullet foodblog

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My solution is not to do it. Really. The more I think about this, the worse the idea seems. Maybe ground poultry, seasoned, shaped into little cigars, and rolled in some interesting coating, then pan browned, would be a good option. I know that ground poultry sausage is nicely thawable, because when I make it I freeze at least half. I think that Steve has a noble idea, it's just not a wonderful idea. There are so many things to do for the #1son, that can be put in the freezer and popped out by the sitter, grands, etc. Why limit your ideas to one thing, anyway? Heck, whatever you're cooking, practically, roll or pat it into a shape, freeze it, and voila! Edibles for the #1son, that engage him AND nourish him, and are easy for your caregivers to dole out. The only food we ever fed our toddler that I wouldn't eat was pureed cooked plums, and I would have eaten that, with toast, if there was enough to go around!

I'll wager that you can spend LESS time on this project and have BETTER results by adapting some of your own leftover foods to the task.

More Than Salt

Visit Our Cape Coop Blog

Cure Cutaneous Lymphoma

Join the DarkSide---------------------------> DarkSide Member #006-03-09-06

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Corn flakes make an amazing crust for homemade chicken nuggets or fingers, just use the regular panée a l'anglaise method but use crushed(roughly) corn flakes instead of bread crumbs, yields a crisper crust when cooking in the oven. My mom use to cook this all the time for us, when i was a kid. Not sure they will stand up to freezing, but it should work.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We used to make a kind of Chicken finger for our daughter when she went through her "picky" stage but we used cooked chicken, very thrifty!

Just sweat some onion and small dice vegetables in a little oil until just tender, then without removing the veg make a roux with plain flour then into a thick white sauce with milk until you get a failry thick consistency, leave to cool.

When cold mix in the chopped chicken and form into small slightly flattened balls and roll into breadcrumbs/oatmeal..etc. If you have the consistency right there will be no need to egg the balls, unless you so wish!

I have cooked them by deep frying, shallow frying and oven methods and apart from the odd leak they work well and importantly they get veg and goodness into picky eaters.

"It's true I crept the boards in my youth, but I never had it in my blood, and that's what so essential isn't it? The theatrical zeal in the veins. Alas, I have little more than vintage wine and memories." - Montague Withnail.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Two things: if you weren't trying to take deep-frying out of the picture, the way to do this would be:

- prepare the fingers as if for frying and eating straight away

- fry at the usual temperatrure but for just one minute

- allow to cool slightly and freeze

- when needed, (deep) fry directly from frozen

This is the process we used commercially for breaded fish fillets.

Secondly, I haven't tried, but you might well find that puts enough oil into the coating for them also to be oven finished. (Sorry I only have speculation for you here).

Edited by Blether (log)

QUIET!  People are trying to pontificate.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've had success with chicken breast pounded to about 1/2", dipped in egg and rolled in breadcrumbs, placed on a greased baking sheet and baked until done (time depends on heat and the size of your chicken pieces.) The secret to getting the bread crumb coating to appear "fried" is to hose those puppies down with cooking spray about halfway through. I spray the tops, flip 'em, and spray the bottoms (which are now the tops.) When the bread crumb coating is hot, the oil bubbles and sizzles as the crust absorbs it. It's not gourmet, but it IS easy.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have a 2 year old so I like to keep some chicken fingers in the freezer as well. But while I like to make as much from scratch as possible, chicken fingers isn't one of those things.

I buy the frozen Tyson chicken breast tenderloins in a big bag at Costco and they're actually pretty good. When I have nothing else prepared for my daughter, I just pop one in the toaster oven and it takes less than 15 minutes to cook. If we run out of those and I don't have a chance to get out of the city to Costco, I will buy the Bell & Evans ones at Whole Foods or the Trader Joes's brand is pretty good too.

Having said all that, I would think that this Barefoot Contessa recipe could be baked and then frozen, and here's another recipe for baked chicken fingers.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well, Bell and Evans makes pretty good chicken fingers, albeit expensive ones (I find them at whole foods). But, I agree that making your own is better. When my guys were smaller I chunked up chicken breasts, either brined or marinated them, patted them dry, dredged them in flour, then egg wash, then into either bread crumbs or panko. To be honest, I usually fried them but I'm sure you could bake them successfully. Since Bell and Evan's fingers are uncooked (that's what is says on the box anyway), I think you could probably do all the prep work and then freeze them. As a disclaimer though- I've never tried that.

Good luck!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I just make them up fresh, using boneless skinless chicken breast soaked in a little buttermilk beforehand. Toss with some well-seasoned panko, then shallow fried in canola oil - not a last minute solution by any means, nor something that you can create "en masse", but I just have this thing about making them up fresh.

They do taste pretty damn good, too....miles away from ready-made, and better than a restaurant.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I can't give you a recipe or a technique, but I can tell you that Cap'n Crunch encrusted chicken fingers (which I had in Edmonton something like a decade ago) were the best I've ever had.

I'm sure you can Google more than a few recipes...

-marc

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I love homemade chicken fingers. I'll make up a whole tray of them to freeze and just take out a few at a time. I usually deep fry or pan fry. But you could bake these too.

gallery_27944_2966_189614.jpg

Chicken Fingers

===============

Boneless Chicken Breasts

Garlic

Flour (seasoned with salt and pepper)

Eggs beaten with a little water

Fresh or dried bread crumbs ( I prefer fresh bread crumbs)

Parmesan cheese

.

Puree the garlic on a microplane and rub the chicken. Cut the chicken

into fingers and dip into seasoned flour.

Dip into the egg and then coat with the bread crumbs seasoned with

parmesan cheese.

Pan fry, deep fry or place on a oiled baking sheet and bake.

These freeze well too. Spread out in single layer on cookie sheet and

freeze. When frozen pack in ziplock bags or freezer containers.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

To keep them from being too rubbery when I make chicken fingers, I soak them in some cold salty water for about an hour or two. Kind of a brine, but not exactly. They just plump up a bit and don't get rubbery when re-heated. I generally coat with a honey mustard and then roll in Italian-seasoned bread crumbs then bake just til done, about 15 minutes (?i think?). They can be frozen after they're done and cooled. This is really easy to make for babysitting charges. Also, if I can't find individually frozen chicken tenders, i just cut breasts into strips (and pound them a bit if needed for shape). Really good with a sweet and spicy BBQ sauce for me or a dill-sour cream-mayo mix for the kids.

Edited by emilyr (log)

"Life is a combination of magic and pasta." - Frederico Fellini

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My kids won't eat fast food chicken anymore, they like mine better. I use fresh boneless, skinless chicken breast meat, cut it into strips, and dip it in buttermilk or a beaten egg (buttermilk is tough to find around here), then a mix of panko, dried parsley, dried basil, powdered garlic and fresh-grated parmesan cheese. Lay the strips on a cookie sheet (I use parchment for fast cleanup), and bake at 400 for 15 minutes. They come out nice & crunchy!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm with sugarsugar on this. I really like fried chicken but not the breast pieces, so after the overnight buttermilk brine (with hot sauce) the breasts get sliced into fingers before the panko-covered frying. I don't really know at what point freezing is a good option. I suppose right pre-frying and post-panko, or maybe a par-fry and then freeze.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Funny--I made paneed chicken last night, boneless breast pounded and coated w/egg wash & dry breadcrumbs mixed w/creole seasoning. Deglazed the pan w/lemon juice, swirled in a little butter. It was grownup chicken fingers and took all of 10 minutes to prepare. I have to agree that precooked, reheated frozen chicken is pretty bad. Why not get him started on chicken potstickers or gyoza? They're easily made ahead & frozen, a snap to cook, and don't really suffer from their time in the freezer...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You're all so lucky, sigh :hmmm: My ultra-picky 3 year old won't eat my home-made chicken fingers (or anything that I try to hide veggies in). She won't eat the Bell and Evan's ones, she won't eat the Trader Joe's ones. Nope, the only ones she eats are Tyson. The only good news is that, other than the chicken itself which I'm sure isn't the best quality, they don't have a lot of junk or chemicals in the breading.

Sometimes I truly wonder how this child came out of me. . .

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We actually know a couple of people who report that their kids will only eat the Tyson nuggets. I've tasted them and, while they're not terrible, I can't see why they inspire such loyalty. I suppose that may be our fate. If so, at least it's a convenient fate.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I should clarify that I freeze the breaded chicken fingers UNCOOKED.

I'm interested - may I ask you how you use the frozen-uncooked-breaded-chicken-fingers - I mean, how do you thaw/cook them when you want to eat some ? In my situation, I'd deep fry from frozen, but that doesn't help Fat Guy.

(My own breaded chicken pieces never last long enough to get frozen, but they are a great easy, tasty thing to take along on a group day out or to a casual party. I'm in the mustardy-egging and herby-breadcrumb camp).

QUIET!  People are trying to pontificate.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

bread some chicken tenderloin or smallish strips of breast and throw them in a toaster bag.. you have to experiment to see what size your toaster will cook in the time the breading gets crisp, but they work out really well. i think someone discussed this in more detail in the old toast and serve bag thread

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...