Making baked chicken fingers from scratch
Once in a while I will try to eat a little healthier and make my own breaded and baked chicken fingers using chicken tender loins and seasoned breadcrumbs.
The problem has always been that the chicken cooks, but the breaded coating still looks like it wasn't cooked. It never seems to get brown and toasty, like you get from fried chicken. I've even tried spraying them with cooking spray, and it didn't seem to make much of a difference.
I'm not sure why it never occurred to me to do this before, but today I decided to toast the breadcrumbs in a pan for a bit *before* breading the chicken with them, and it worked out perfectly.
I added about a cup of seasoned breadcrumbs and a teaspoon of olive oil to a 12" pan over a low heat, and kept stirring them constantly with a spatula. Yes, the breadcrumbs initially "clump up" a bit when the oil is added, but if you keep stirring, it eventually gets dispersed throughout all the breadcrumbs and they all become crumbly again. Just be careful, they go from tan to burnt really quick, keep an eye on them the whole time and keep stirring.
After that, it was just dipping the chicken in some egg, then the toasted breadcrumbs, and on to a wire rack in a baking sheet.
Wish I saw this a couple hours ago when I made oven baked chicken fingers . I marinated a couple breasts in buttermilk ranch dressing and breaded them with panko. Ended up drizzling with evoo and broiling to get it browned in spots. I'll have to try this next time.
I like to use panko vs regular breadcrumbs, as they tend to "crisp up" better. They aren't that brown, but at least they have the crunch. I did pretzels (used the nugget sourdough variety, crushed up in the food processor) once and they had the crunch for sure. I thought they were too salty though. My SO liked them though... he likes things saltier than I do. I've also heard of folks using cornflakes, but I haven't tried that yet.
This doesn't help your healthier issue, but I once made a Paula Deen recipe where she used potato chips for the coating. Quite delicious :)
Jacques Pepin used crushed canned fried onions (the French or Durkee stuff that goes into the traditional Thanksgiving green bean casserole) as breading, which has a lot of flavor but also a lot of salt. I like to combine them with plain bread crumbs or crushed crackers or crushed plain dry cereal.
For years my nephew would only eat my oven friend chicken tenders.
Which were pretty darn good I must say.
I made maybe a hundred twice a month. His dad ate them too,
YOUR TEMPERATURE IS TOO LOW. That's my thought.
My own recipe ( in that I just experimented and chose the best result) cooks at 425 with a high rack.
This ensures a brown crispy crust with tender juicy chicken.
I just posted on another thread a tip from ATKRadio. They were trying to get deep brown grill marks on chicken quickly, so that the meat could then be moved to a cooler part of the grill to finish cooking. They discovered that using powdered milk as the "breading" led to rapid browning, because of the milk sugars. Adding dry powdered milk to untoasted bread crumbs should help them get browner without the extra step of toasting.