Thursday, January 20, 2011

It's Only Sauce: Parmesan Chicken Fingers

The other night, I was going to attempt what I thought was a simple recipe in my Barefoot Contessa Paris book. I talked to my mom and told her I was making asparagus with hollandaise sauce and a simple pan-seared chicken breast. There was silence on the other end- and then- "are you sure your ready for that?" Sure why not- it seemed simple enough. Throw some ingredients in the food processor and you're good to go.

I would learn later that hollandaise sauce is not easy... at all. My mom says it's a hard sauce to make because sometimes it doesn't emulsify (or blend). I think my first problem was that I was trying to cut the recipe in half. The recipe calls for 3 lbs of asparagus and I was only making less than a half pound. Cooking for 1 or 2 is obviously difficult for large portion recipes. I put the ingredients (lemon, eggs, salt, cayenne pepper) in the food processor and it turned into a really BRIGHT yellow sticky mixture. I had hoped when I added the melted butter it would turn into the creamy-yellow perfect sauce in the picture. However as much as I wished, it still retained its intense yellow hue. I decided to try it- and unfortunately it was inedible with a very overpowering salty buttery taste. Oops!

Just when I thought I was going to throw down my oven mitt for the night, I calmed down and reminded myself it's only sauce. So what could I do with some blanched asparagus and a chicken breast?

Side note- Blanching asparagus is putting it in a bowl of ice cold water after they are finished cooking in the boiling pot of water. This stops the asparagus from cooking and allows it to still keep its tender crisp texture.

I just ditched the sauce besides my mom usually just puts olive oil, balsamic vinegar and seasons with a little salt and pepper and serves. I determined I could still make a blog-worthy meal by spicing up the chicken.

Parmesan chicken fingers is one of my favorite (as well as my friends) recipes that my mom passed down to me. You just cut the chicken into slices, coat them in your breaded mixture and throw them in the over for 20 minutes. I also add red pepper flakes to give it a little bit of a kick.

Note: If you are not grating your own imported parmesan cheese to save money (like me!)- it still works if you use the bagged grated parmesan like Sargento's (which can give you stick-like shreds). DON'T USE PARMESAN IN THE GREEN CAN- that's too powdery. However, I like to pulse this cheese through my food processor once or twice. The smaller the better. It sticks to the chicken more effectively as well as it fuses with the rest of the breaded mixture nicely once in the oven. If you don't, the long shreds will singe and get crusty- but the chicken will still be fine.

Parmesan Chicken Fingers

Ingredients (Cut recipe in half if you just have one chicken breast)

  • 1 -2 pounds chicken breasts thinly sliced or chicken tenders
  • 1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup seasoned Italian breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon basil
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • pinch red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup milk

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Rinse and dry chicken. If using chicken breasts, slice chicken into strips about 1" wide and 1/2" thick. Set aside.
2. In a medium shallow bowl, combine Panko and Italian breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, garlic powder, thyme, basil, oregano and red pepper flakes if desired.
3. In a separate medium sized bowl, beat egg with milk until smooth and creamy.
4. Dip chicken pieces in milk/egg mixture and then coat them in the breadcrumb mixture. Place on baking dish. Do not overlap chicken pieces. Spray with canola or olive oil before baking.
5. Bake chicken in the oven for 18-20 minutes turning over chicken pieces halfway and both sides are golden brown. Serve immediately.

If serving at a later time, allow chicken to cool completely before storing in refrigerator.

Bon Appetite!
Chef Maggie

1 comment:

  1. I have learnt the hard way that it is easier to buy hollandaise sauce than it is to make. And there is some really good ones available now adays. But good for you at least trying. Nice chicken by the way.