Almond-Crusted Chicken Fingers

I am creeped out by the idea of chicken fingers.  I always have this flash of an old hen with bony fingers where the chicken claws should be, the ends of her scrawny talon fingers touched with red polish and pointing accusingly at me.  However, chicken fingers are a great favorite with children. So many people say they would lose weight, but their children won’t eat “diet food”.  Without getting into a protracted discussion of what diet food is (and why I don’t eat it), I decided to experiment with making child-friendly breaded chicken fingers that didn’t have to be fried.

Chicken fingers are not actually fingers, of course. They are a strip of rib meat typically found attached to the underside of the chicken breast, and usually sold separately as chicken tenders. They have virtually no fat, and can be cooked in many ways, from stir fry, to threaded on skewers for satay, or just cooked quickly on the grill.  They are the basis for the chicken fingers on so many restaurant children’s menus.

These chicken fingers, which originally appeared in Eating Well, are good, but didn’t have quite the crispiness I was craving. The next time chicken tenders are on sale, I’m going to experiment making them with Panko crumbs instead of almond crusting.  You can dip the fingers in anything you’d like – low fat ranch dressing, ketchup, or a sweet and sour dip (like I made).

Almond-Crusted Chicken Fingers

Cooking spray
½ cup sliced almonds
¼ cup whole-wheat flour
1½ teaspoons paprika
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon dry mustard
¼ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1½ teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 large egg whites
1 pound chicken tenders

Preheat oven to 475°F. Line a baking sheet with foil. Set a wire rack on the baking sheet and coat it with cooking spray.

Place almonds, flour, paprika, garlic powder, dry mustard, salt and pepper in a food processor and process until the almonds are finely chopped and the paprika is mixed throughout, about 1 minute. With the motor running, drizzle in oil. Process until combined. Transfer the mixture to a shallow dish.

Whisk egg whites in a second shallow dish. Add chicken tenders and turn to coat (I did them two at a time). Transfer each tender to the almond mixture, turning to coat evenly. (Discard any remaining egg white and almond mixture.) Place the tenders on the prepared rack and coat them with cooking spray; turn and spray the other side.

Bake the chicken fingers until golden brown, crispy and no longer pink in the center, 20 to 25 minutes.  Makes 4 servings at about 4 grams of fat/serving.


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I have lost 200 pounds. I did not do it through surgery – I don’t like knives and needles – or by joining a club, vigorous exercise, or rigorous dieting. I did it by gourmet cooking. To be precise, by cooking low fat, really delicious food. I love to cook as much as I love to eat. Food magazines are some of my favorite reading. I would feel deprived if I couldn’t have the sensuous experience of good food crossing my lips. This blog is about my perpetual feast, my passionate love of food, with recipes, photos, and occasional advice and principles that I have learned along the way.

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