I discovered the trick to the most delicious chicken fingers on earth while working as a line cook at an area restaurant. Soaking the chicken in buttermilk and some sort of Cajun seasoning overnight before breading and cooking them results in the the most tender, melt-in-your mouth chicken fingers you’ll ever eat. In doing some research, I learned that the acids, enzymes and calcium tenderize and flavor meats, poultry and seafood and can even be safe for those who are lactose intolerant. This blog post validates what I already discovered…
“Southern cooks have long known that chicken fries crisper and is more tender and juicy if soaked in buttermilk before cooking.”
Here are some more guidelines for using buttermilk to marinate meats, poultry and seafood. I used the technique to create Buffalo Chicken Salads this week.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- 1 to 1 ½ pounds of chicken breasts
- Cajun seasoning of some kind (I used Dinosaur Bar-B-Que Cajun Foreplay Spice Rub)
- Panko bread crumbs
- Romaine lettuce
- Blue cheese dressing (I used Wegmans Yogurt Blue Cheese dressing)
- Wing sauce (I used Frank’s Red Hot Buffalo Wing Sauce)
Marinate your chicken the night before you’re ready to cook. Cut the chicken breasts into uniform strips, removing any fat. Place them in the container or bag and cover them in buttermilk and sprinkle at least 2 teaspoons of Cajun seasoning into the mix. Combine the chicken, buttermilk and Cajun seasoning and marinate overnight.
When you’re ready to begin cooking, place about 1 cup of panko bread crumbs into a medium bowl. Remove the chicken strips one at a time and coat them evenly in the bread crumbs. Place them on a greased baking pan or roasting pan with a rack in it. Cook the chicken fingers at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes or until they are cooked throughout.
Meanwhile, prepare your salad. Chop the romaine, celery and carrots (or use shredded carrots). Place them in a large mixing bowl and set aside.
When the chicken fingers are done cooking, cut them into bite sized pieces and place them in a medium bowl. Add as much or little wing sauce as you’d like, keeping in mind the golden rule – you can always add more, but you can’t take it away. Toss the chicken in the sauce until it’s thoroughly coated
Toss the lettuce, carrots and celery in the large bowl with as much blue cheese dressing as you’d like. Plate the salad and top with the chicken fingers. For those looking for a non-breaded version of this recipe, you could probably just skip the breading. Or here’s a similar recipe I also really enjoyed.