As much as I like eating healthily, I also like a good amount of junk food. For as long as I can remember, I was able to pass up on savory, salty junk food – chips, French fries, chicken fingers – in favor of sweets and desserts. I’m not what the physiological reason is that would command my taste preferences to change, but they certainly have over the years.
Now, while I am certainly tempted by soft chocolate chip cookies and pumpkin chocolate chip squares, I am just as likely to pass on dessert in favor of indulging in a salty or savory treat. No, make that a spicy, salty, savory treat.
I think you’d be hard-pressed to find a person for whom chicken fingers don’t evoke some sort of childhood memory. For me, chicken fingers were a frequent staple at the dinner table and one of the only items my brother and I liked to order off the kids menu at restaurants. Unlike some of my other childhood snack staples (does anyone else remember the microwave popcorn that was dyed a “surprise” neon color that you’d discover when you opened the bag? Ew), chicken fingers are also a big kid favorite.
This grown-up edition of a childhood favorite uses lime, cilantro and chipotle pepper powder as a flavorful marinade and the breading is based on crunchy panko breadcrumbs, laced with a little bit of heat. These are a perfect appetizer or finger food served at a party, but even better as a quick weeknight dinner. They freeze well, so if you’re cooking for one or two you can pop whatever you don’t need in a freezer safe bag and save them to reheat on an even busier night.
- 1 pound (16 ounces) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1½ tablespoons lime juice (from about 1½ limes)
- 2 green onions, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 clove garlic, mashed
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 3 teaspoons ground chipotle powder, divided (or more if you like a lot of heat)
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
- Line a baking sheet with foil and coat with a thin layer of cooking spray. Place chicken on a cutting board and slice into thin strips (about ½ inch in diameter). Set aside.
- Make the marinade: In a bowl, combine lime juice, chopped green onion, cilantro, garlic, salt and 1 teaspoon chipotle power. Add chicken and toss until it is evenly coated with the mixture.
- In a separate shallow bowl, combine the panko breadcrumbs and 2 teaspoons chipotle powder . Toss the chicken strips in the panko mixture, one at a time, until each fully covered in breadcrumbs. Shake off any excess breading and arrange on the baking sheet.
- Bake in the oven for 10 minutes. Flip the chicken fingers so they brown on the other side, and cook for another 5 minutes until the chicken is cooked through and the crust is brown. Makes about 16 chicken fingers. Serve with your favorite dipping sauce.