Chicken Fingers And Breading

Chicken fingers are a great snack food, appetizer, or even a main meal served with fries. Too often though they are bland, or extremely dry. Unlike KFC, who’s “11 herbs and spices” consist of salt, pepper, msg, and parsley, (and I freely admit I love it) these are much better. I had been making these long before I put them on the menu at the restaurant, and they’ve always been a hit. The key to any good chicken (or any fried food for that matter) is to cook it just long enough to cook it through. Any longer, and chicken turns dry as a bone.

2 sleeves Ritz crackers (I like to use the Butter & Garlic ones)
1 TBS paprika
1 TBS onion powder
1 TBS garlic powder
1/2 TBS black pepper
1 TBS accent
2 cups italian seasoned bread crumbs

Place the crackers in a food processor and blend until finely powdered. Place in a large mixing bowl with the rest of the ingredients and mix until thoroughly combined. Place in an airtight container for storage. When using for breading, combine 2 parts flour to 1 part crumb mixture (i.e. 1 cup of flour and 1/2 cup mixture)

3 cups breading (2 cups flour & 1 cup crumb mixture)
1 pkg chicken tenderloins (the strips you can buy at the grocery store)
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
Oil for deep frying

Trim the tendons from the end of the tenders (the white stringy thing at the fat end of the tender). Place in a non-metallic dish and cover with the buttermilk. Refrigerate 2 hours or overnight. Heat oil to 375 degrees (a fryer works best if you have one). Take the tenders one at a time and drain off excess buttermilk. Place the tender in the breading and toss to coat. Now press the breading into the tender, turning it over several times, until it is thoroughly coated, and you can no longer feel any wetness on it. Place on a piece of wax paper. Repeat with the rest of the tenders. Fry them, a few at a time, until golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes, flipping to ensure even browning. Drain on paper towels and serve with your favorite dipping sauce. NOTE: The key to successful chicken (fingers or just plain fried) is the use of buttermilk. It is much thicker than regular milk, and creates that thick, crispy, crunchy coating that makes fried chicken worth eating. You can substitute regular or lowfat milk, but the quality will suffer. If you don’t want to have extra buttermilk lying around in your refrigerator, you can buy more chicken and make extra, as they freeze incredibly well. Also, this breading works great for chicken fried/country fried steak. Enjoy!