This was a very haphazard recipe; I had been planning on making spicy chicken strips, chicken breast fingers essentially braised in a hot sauce until cooked through. They are quite delicious and handy to have on hand for sandwiches, salads and snacking. Yet I felt the need for something crunchy. So I changed plans, and took the marinating chicken strips, dredged them in a flour/multi-grain mix and baked them spread on a baking sheet instead of puddled in their spicy sauce. The result was – good. Crunchy, different, a satisfying dinner served with spicy red salsa and chutney. I would do some tweaking next time (longer marinade, cornmeal instead of flour, more spice) but I think the recipe could become a standby.
Make no mistake: this isn’t fried chicken. I’m always suspicious of those recipes for baked chicken strips that claim to taste “just like KFC.” For one thing – ew. For another thing, they seem to miss the essential point: fried chicken isn’t just about crunch, it is also about very moist and tender meat, the kind, in my opinion, that you only get when you can cook that meat very quickly at very high temperatures (like, for instance, when you drop it into boiling oil). So, if you want fried chicken, my advice is, fire up the fry-o-later and have at it. But if you want some crunchy chicken fingers that are healthy, flavorful and 100% local? Give these a try.
Crunchy Baked Chicken Strips
- about 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast
- 1/2 cup Flaming Wing Sauce (or hot or BBQ sauce of your choice)
- 1/2 cup multi-grain mix (Wild Hive 10-grain, or Bob’s Red Mill cereal mix)
- 1/4 cup wheat germ
- 1/4 cup cornmeal or whole wheat flour
- 1 tsp Kosher salt
- 1/4 – 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper or other chilé pepper
- 1 egg, beaten
- salsa, chutney, BBQ or hot sauce, for serving
- Slice chicken breast into 1 to 2-inch wide strips. Add chicken to a medium bowl with wing sauce; stir well to coat chicken and marinate at room temperature at least 30 minutes, or refrigerated for up to 2 days.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Mix flour or cornmeal, wheat germ, mutli-grain mix, salt and chilé pepper in a small bowl. Whisk well to combine. Spread mixture onto a plate or large shallow bowl. Dip each chicken strip into the beaten egg, then dredge well in the multi-grain mixture. Lay, close but not touching, on a lightly greased baking sheet.
- Bake at 350 degrees F until cooked through: slightly crisped at the edges and an internal temperature of 165 to 170 degrees F, about 20 – 25 minutes (smaller strips may need to be removed sooner). About halfway through the baking time, turn strips over with tongs, and turn baking sheet back to front. Remove from the tray with tongs or a flat spatula and serve hot with dipping sauce.
- I think 1/2 cup of cornmeal and 1/2 cup of multi-grain mix would be delicious; if I had not run out of cornmeal making fritters, that’s what I would have done tonight. I’ll test it out and report back.
- I tried this both with, and without, an egg wash prior to the dredge; the egg definitely helped to keep the coating on the chicken. If you are concerned about fat and/or cholesterol, consider an egg white wash instead (add 1 tbsp water or milk to help the egg white ‘beat’).
- Could have been spicier; next time I will try to marinate for longer and add more chilé powder to the mix.
Will last for up to 5 days in the fridge, but will loose crispness. Best served immediately.
Year round, but mostly winter, when it is not grilling season.
- Chicken: Empire Kosher, central Pennsylvania
- Wing Sauce: homemade (vegetables from the Ryder Farm CSA, spices, vinegar and hot sauce from away)
- Flour, 10-grain mix: Wild Hive Farm, Clinton Corners, NY
- Egg: Madura Farms, Goshen, NY
- Wheat germ, salt, pepper: away