Believe it or not–I have not forgotten about this blog. I started a new job two months ago, which I absolutely love, but cooking…and therefore blogging…has played second fiddle to ramping up in my new role. The blog always lingers in the back of my mind as I whip together a quick meal, while the large stack of unread food magazines gives me the stink eye from the living room end table. I’m sure my blog is giving me the virtual stink eye as well, which I imagine looks like this *-(
Food, at the end of the day, is just sustenance fueling our bodies. Good thing I have never looked at food that way. Food is comfort, and when I think of comfort food, I think of warm-out-of-the-oven chicken fingers, tangy dipping sauces, and a cold brew (with a baseball game playing in the background). I decided to make my triumphant return to this blog by embarking on my first Gluten-Free Challenge. What is this challenge, you ask? Simply put, it is taking a very gluten based food and turning it into a delicious culinary creation those with Celiac’s, Gluten intolerance, and Gluten sensitivity can actually digest. The starting point for this particular challenge? The chicken fingers’ crunchy coating.
I’ve been experimenting with a variety of Gluten-Free bread crumb products intermittently over the past few months…to lackluster results. The bread crumbs just make the end product so…dense. I came to the realization that with Gluten-Free food, sometimes it is better to keep it simple and go back to the basics. Chex Mix is always on our kitchen counter. Cinnamon, Honey, and Rice Chex. 3 boxes. Every week. It’s C’s favorite snack, and I enjoy a bowl of cereal as I watch “Once Upon a Time.” Seems like the best starting point, if any. I put a cup of Rice Chex in a baggie, and with a heavy can of beans, rolled it back and forth across the baggie. It didn’t take much for the Chex to break up into tiny, Panko size pieces. Eureka! Simple, homemade, Gluten-Free Panko breadcumbs. The rest of the recipe was cake (a gluten-free one) from there.
My “go to” flour these days is Gluten-Free Bisquick, which I set aside as the first bowl in the chicken finger assembly line. Next, two large brown beaten eggs. Finally, the Panko crumbs, seasoned with red pepper flakes, minced onion, garlic powder, and Pecorino-Romano cheese. It took less than 15 minutes in the oven for these tenders to come out golden brown.
Now, the next best thing about crunch chicken fingers is the sauce you are going to dip it in. The chicken fingers themselves are tangy because of the red pepper flakes, so I first whipped up a cool sauce made with Greek Yogurt, lemon, and dill. But, to keep with the theme of tang and heat, I made a second sauce that included Sriracha. It’s a battle of the sauces! Perhaps a new form of The Hunger Games? With full stomachs, and no death.
1/2 lb lean chicken breasts (about 2-3 breasts) sliced into tenders
2 cups Rice Chex, ground into Panko sized crumbs
1/3 cup Gluten-Free Bisquick
1/3 cup Locatelli Pecorino-Romano cheese
1 tablespoon minced onion
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 eggs, beaten
1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F. Spray a large baking sheet with cooking spray.
2. Separate the Bisquick, eggs, and ground Chex Mix into three separate bowls.
3. Add cheese, minced onion, garlic powder, and red pepper flakes to the bowl of ground Gluten-Free crumbs. Stir to combine.
4. Coat chicken in Bisquick, shaking off excess, then dunk in the egg. Coat with Chex crumbs, pressing down with a fork.
5. Arrange on baking sheet, and bake for 12-15 minutes until crispy and cooked through.
Cool Lemon Dill Greek Yogurt Dipping Sauce
1/3 cup non-fat Greek Yogurt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped
1 teaspoon lemon zest
Tangy Sriracha Lime Dipping Sauce
1/3 cup non-fat Greek Yogurt
1 teaspoon Sriracha (add more if you want a spicier sauce)
1 teaspoon lime juice
1. Mix sauces together into separate, small bowls.
2. Tweak the ingredients to your liking. If you want more powerful flavors, add more Sriracha, dill, or lemon!