Sunday, April 5, 2009

Giving You The Finger

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.
Pedestrian? Sure.
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..... ;)