Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Chicken Finger Conundrum

Chicken Fingers.

Who you foolin? You know your kid loves them.

There’s no need to get all judgy-mom/Jamie Oliver on me. I saw him do the vile gooey pink-chicken-parts-in-a-blender demo on his saving America from our obese disgusting selves program on ABC. I watched it from beginning to end. The entire series. It was fascinating. I think I was prego at the time. Probably stuffing my face with Fruit Loops and cheesesteaks while lying on the couch. Irony, yes?

 And I agree with that crazy British dude in all his lecturing glory.

But, the reality is: My Baby Evan grooves on his chickie.

What do you want from me?

Fortunately, the Jersey Girl has ways in which to rock out breaded chicken in a manner that is not disgusting. Or wrapped up in a pre-cooked Perdue package. Or found in the prepared frozen food section of the grocery. The HORROR!!

Sidenote: I’m not judging you if you feed these things to your kid. Or go the Mickey D’s takeout route. But I do hope you will consider the way shown below. Even me and The Husband eat these chicken fingers. The key to their fabulosity: garlic-infused Greek yogurt. Marinating in this wonder-sauce keeps the tenders so…. Tender.  

And you can make a whole bundle of them and sock them away in the fridge for your day-to-day operation. Or for those moments when you’re all like, “God. I’m exhausted. Calgon, take me away. Where’s my wine? Can I just watch Jersey Housewives? Jesus, kid. You need to eat. AGAIN!”

Shut up. You know you think these unmotherly thoughts.

Since we’re keeping it real, The Jersey Girl tends to order chicken fingers for the Babes quite often when we’re dining out. I’m not proud of this decision, but sometimes you gots to do what you gots to do – and by that I mean prevent screaming from an impatient toddler. The Husband staged an intervention this summer on the matter, so on a lunch outing the Jersey Girl ordered Evan a scrambled egg with cheese, which pretty much went untouched by a restless and annoyed toddler. I know his inner monologue was something like, “WTF? Where’s my chicken, Dad?!!! Chickie. CHICKIE. CHICKIE!!!!!!!”

Evan loves to play peek-a-boo. But, really. Who doesn't?

Rest assured, Evan makes his foodie Mama proud. While his old-standby of chicken fingers and fries (along with blueberries and strawberries brought by moi) often grace his plate in restaurants, he loves to try what me and his Daddy-O are eating, too, because the truth is my offspring eats enough for four people on a daily basis. So, he has the comfort of his familiar chicken while exploring the wonders of new tastes in what we eat. And well, I love that about my very hungry 21-month-old, who lately has been all about teetering and tottering with me in the kitchen with my pots and pans and wooden spoons. He tells me he’s making sauce. Should be delish.

Mmmmm. Chicken fingers. Yes, the salad will probably 
get thrown in your face by a 2-year-old who prefers a side of chips or pretzels.

Homemade Chicken Fingers
1 cup Greek yogurt
1 fat clove of garlic, chopped
1 ½ pounds chicken tenders
¾ cup Italian style bread crumbs
¼ cup grated Parmiggiano Reggiano cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil

Line a sturdy baking sheet with foil. Lightly brush with olive oil.

In a medium bowl, combine yogurt and chopped garlic. Place chicken tenders in the yogurt mixture. Marinate for 15-20 minutes. (Don’t marinate for long because the chicken will become tough and stringy. Yuck.)

Preheat oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit.

In another bowl, combine bread crumbs, cheese and salt and pepper. Stir until well combined. When the chicken is finished marinating, coat each chicken tender in the bread crumb mixture.

Place each tender evenly on the prepared baking sheet. Once all the tenders are breaded and lined up, drizzle each with some olive oil.

Bake in the super hot oven for about 12 minutes.

Enjoy with your hungry little monsters!!