The epic battle between baked and fried begins. That’s right, two recipes for the work of one—the recipes are the same until you get to the cooking part. FUN! (I noted in bold letters where the recipes differ.)
Here’s what you’ll need to make both kinds of chicken fingers.
- Mixing Bowl (large)
- Mixing Bowl (medium)
- Baking Sheet
- Food Processor
- Cutting Board
- Chefs Knife
- Pot (large. optional. this is used for the fried version)
- Tongs (optional. this is used for the fried version)
- Silicone Brush (optional. this is used for the baked version)
- Paper Towel
- Meat Thermometer
- Chicken Breast (x4)
- Panko Bread Crumbs (1 1/2 cups)
- Fresh Basil (10 leaves)
- Parmesan-Reggiano (1/8 cup. Buy shredded or shred now. Put it in the freezer now—ahead of time.)
- Whole Wheat Flour (1 cup)
- Egg (x2)
- Grape Seed Oil (3 cups)
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Let’s get started! Go ahead and slice each breast of your chicken length-wise into inch think strips and put them aside.
In your food processor, chop you basil and frozen parmesan-reggiano till they be come crumbles.
Once ready, in your large mixing bowl, use your whisk to mix your basil parmesan-reggiano mixture with your panko bread crumbs and salt in order to form a new flavorful mixture. NOW YOU HAVE YOUR CHICKEN COATING! YAY!
Time to start forming your dredging process line. Use your baking sheet for a surface, pour your flour on one half and your panko crumb mixture on the other half.
In your medium mixing bowl, use your whisk to thoroughly scramble your eggs.
Line up your mixtures and also lay out your plate. (this is where all of your chicken prepped chicken fingers will line up.)
Grab your chicken strips and like play-dough, roll each one between your hands (as if you were making a snake).
TIME TO DREDGE! One by one start your dredging process.
Take your first piece of chicken and coat it with flour by rolling it in it.
Move that chicken strip to stage two and dip it in the eggs. When coated, slide the piece through two fingers to remove excess egg.
Then, stage three, roll your chicken in your panko mixture.
Place it on your plate and repeat the dredging process for all of your chicken strips.
THIS IS YOUR TURNING POINT—TO BAKE OR FRY? THAT IS THE QUESTION.
Well, before you go ahead and choose, allow me to give you some notes on each.
Baked, not fried: This version has an Italian-y vibe. You truly taste the basil and parmesan-reggiano in every delicious crunchy bite. Pair it with some tomato sauce for dipping.
Fried, not baked: This version has a traditional delicious gastropub feel. A perfect browned crunch with tender chicken inside. Serve it with barbecue sauce to really get the overall feeling of the style.
Ok. Time to choose—OR SPLIT THEM IN HALF AND COOK THEM BOTH WAYS! (have your chicken fingers and eat them too.)
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Clean off your baking sheet (or use another one entirely) and use your silicone brush to coat it with your extra virgin olive oil.
Line your chicken strips across your baking sheet.
When your oven is preheated. Put your baking sheet full of chicken strips in, let cook for 15 minutes (or until you test it with your meat thermometer and it reads 155 degrees—they should technically be 165 degrees and will continue to cook on the baking sheet a bit once you take them out of the oven.)
Go ahead and plate what was once your “chicken strips” and have been transformed in the oven into your delish “chicken fingers”.
THAT’S IT! THOSE ARE YOUR OH-SO-YUMMY BAKED CHICKEN FINGERS!
In your pot, on high heat, heat you grape seed oil. (it should be so hot that when you tap the corner of your chicken into it, it will sizzle like crazy.)
Prepare your plate by covering it with paper towel. (this will get rid of some of the excess oil.)
When your oil is hot, one by one, using your tongs (the idea being to keep your hands as far away from oil splashing as possible) put your chicken strips into the oil. Let cook for about 2 minutes—or until browned.
Ideally—and this is a tweak that differs from the image above—you want your chicken strips completely submerged in the oil so that it burns evenly from all sides while keeping the chicken tender inside. If you’re doing it as shown in the image above, at the 2 minute mark flip your chicken strip to cook the other side. When fully browned, remove from heat and onto your paper towel covered plate.
CONGRATULATIONS! YOUR GASTROPUB CHICKEN FINGERS ARE DONE, GORGEOUS AND DELICIOUS!
Dive in! TIME TO EAT! Indulge that inner kid in you that wants to devour all of the chicken fingers at once.