Last night was the Final Four and the mighty North Carolina Tarheels (my favorite collegiate team) advanced to the NCAA Championship Game tomorrow night. A lot of people will be having parties for the game so I thought I'd play with some finger food tonight. Literally....oven baked chicken fingers. Plus, this one is easy! (Yes Brandi, even you, a bona fide member of PEAS would like it!)
Done a million times? Yep.
Is that going to stop me? Nope!
Final Four Chicken Fingers
4 ea chicken thighs, boneless, skinless (can substitute breasts but thighs are so much better)
2 sleeves butter crackers (Ritz, Townhouse, Club, etc. A sleeve is one of the cellophane packages inside of the box, I'd guess about 20 crackers in a sleeve.)
2 TB spices (see note in instructions)
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 TB lime or lemon juice
The spices: Use whatever you want. It could be half/half kosher salt and pepper. A mix of salt, pepper, basil and oregano would be good. Here's my favorite poultry rub recipe. It can be a bought mix, tonight I used Weber's new Kick'n Chicken.
Cut the chicken thighs into thirds to make strips. Season with 1 TB of the spices. Set aside.
Grind crackers with the remaining 1 TB of spices into crumbs in a blender (or put them into a ziplock bag and pulverize them with a rolling pin, rubber mallet, hammer, anvil, whatever).
Melt butter and add lime or lemon juice.
Dip each strip one at a time in butter with one hand and put into a plate of the crumb mixture. Use your other hand to coat the piece and place it on a lightly greased cookie sheet. (Using one hand for the butter dip and one for the crusting lets you do this without getting both hands covered in a gooey swampman looking mixture!)
Bake them at 350f for 45 minutes. Flip them 25 minutes into the cooking. Here's what will help them not get soggy, remove them to a cooling rack over a piece of newspaper.
Don't have a cooking rack? Sure you do, pull out the wire rack from your grill or even a toaster oven! (Can you tell I was once a bachelor and didn't have the proper kitchen tools?)
Let them cool for about 5 minutes and then serve with your favorite dipping sauce. I took blue cheese dressing for mine.My honest opinion is that they aren't as crispy and crunch as FRIED chicken fingers but it is less messy. I added the lime juice because I thought it would give a bit something different to the same old chicken finger and it did, but subtle. Supposedly oven baked is healthier than deep frying, from what I hear, but I have a soft spot in my heart for fried food. Or maybe that is a soft spot in my heart FROM fried foods..... ;)