You know those ‘duh’ moments? The ones where you think, “Why have I not done this all along?”
I had one last week.
I’m a sucker for a spicy chicken wing, and Buffalo wings* are near the top of the heap for me. Sometimes, though, my inner finicky, tactile-defensive, high-maintenance child** rears its head, though, and I don’t want to deal with the messy, greasy bones. Yeah. I hardly know myself those days.
*I feel silly calling them Buffalo wings because Buffalo is my neighbor geographically and people can smell a non-local a mile away if they call ’em Buffalo wings. There. Travel advice from Foodie with Family. When in Buffalo, just order hot wings. And napkins.
**Why yes, my mother is a psych nurse. Why do you ask?
In those cases, I’m always tempted to buy those packages of frozen boneless ‘wingz’. Really? Can we please indicate they’re not actual ‘wings’ from a chicken in another way? My kids call this ‘trendy illiteracy’. I love my kids. Every time I cave and buy a package I’m always disappointed. The wingz (GAH) are either mushy piece meat or the breading is too soft or they taste of preservatives or the sauce is off-tasting.
I told you I was high maintenance. But wait! There’s more!
I have always wanted to like chicken nuggets. I love chicken. I love breaded things. Why wouldn’t I love nuggets? It’s like this. As a child, I desperately clung to the idea that chicken nuggets were what I wanted to eat at McDonald’s. I ordered it every time. (And people, we didn’t go out to eat a whole lot, so that was commitment on my part.) And every last time I ordered the nuggets (with hot mustard, thankyouverymuch) I would bite into a nugget and come away with a mouthful of gristle. That was the point where I gagged. Every cotton-pickin’ time. Sometimes it was the first nugget and my meal was finished then. Sometimes it was the last one and I was lulled into a false sense of security by all the other nuggets then WHAMMO. One thing was certain, though; it was inevitable. Frozen chicken nuggets and more chi-chi restaurant chicken fingers were slightly more reliably not gristly, but meh; Who wants to order chicken fingers at a grown-up restaurant?
So where does my duh moment come in? I figured I could make them myself. Big, fat, hairy lightbulb. I opted against frying them because I reasoned that in doing so, I could eat more pizza at other times. (Nutritional math, people. It’s how I roll.) Besides this, baking them in the oven means a delicious product that is slightly healthier AND creates less overall mess.
And healthier yet is the fact that in lieu of using egg and milk to stick bread crumbs to the chicken, I chose Greek yogurt with crunchy whole wheat panko crumbs. The variety of Greek yogurt I use is a lower fat one without funky fillers and additives; it simply starts with a lower content milkfat than other yogurts. One lovely bonus of using Greek yogurt here is that it keeps the chicken moist without making the breading soggy. Hooray for Greek yogurt!
After parking the chicken in yogurt with spices…
…then dredging them through panko you’ve seasoned with more spices, and baking them on a foil lined tray ’til golden brown and crispy and cooked through, you can stop right there and eat away til you’re chicken nuggeted out, content in the knowledge that you’ve trimmed those chicken breasts of all gristle.
~OR~ you can go just one step further and toss it in a lightning-speed, two-ingredient (because that’s all authentic wing sauce ever needs!) Buffalo wing sauce for Boneless Buffalo WingS. You better believe I intended to capitalize that ‘s’. I feel I’m striking a blow for people everywhere whose eyeballs throb when they read deliberate misspelling on packaging. One recipe, two possible results, both delicious. And gristle free. Hooray!
Can you say tidy fingers and no grease stains on the couch pillows on game day? Can I get an air fist-bump here?
- 8 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 2½ cups plain Greek yogurt
- 2 teaspoons cumin, divided
- 1½ teaspoons cayenne pepper, divided
- 1½ teaspoons garlic powder, divided
- 1½ teaspoons onion powder, divided
- 3 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 4-6 cups panko bread crumbs (preferably whole wheat)
- Cooking oil spray (canola, vegetable, grapeseed or peanut.)
- Mild: ¼ cup each Frank's Red Hot Sauce and melted butter
- Medium: ⅓ cup Frank's Red Hot Sauce and ¼ cup melted butter
- Hot: ½ cup (or more!) Frank's Red Hot Sauce and ¼ cup melted butter
- Bleu Cheese Dressing for dipping
- Combine the yogurt, 1 teaspoon each of the cumin, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder, 2 teaspoons of the kosher salt, and the black pepper in a one-gallon resealable plastic bag. Close it and use your hand to squish the contents around until it's mostly evenly combined. Set aside.
- Trim the chicken breasts of any gristly bits and slice them into even pieces. I usually cut it in half cross-wise, then into pieces that are about 2-inches by 1½-inches by ½-inch but you can cut them into any shape you'd like as long as they're mostly equal in size. This makes them cook more evenly. Transfer all of the chicken pieces into the bag with the yogurt, seal the bag, and squish everything around so the chicken is evenly coated in the spiced yogurt. Let this rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with foil and lightly spritz it with cooking oil (either a spray bottle of oil or non-stick cooking spray.)
- Add 4 cups of the the panko bread crumbs and the remaining cumin, cayenne, garlic and onion powders, and salt to a pie plate or other shallow dish and stir them together. Using tongs to keep your hands neat, remove one chicken strip at a time and lay them in the dish of bread crumbs. Flip them over, pressing crumbs onto all yogurt covered surfaces, then transfer the coated piece of chicken to the lined baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining chicken and crumbs, leaving a little space between each piece to allow air to circulate around it as it bakes. If you find yourself running out of crumbs, add the remaining panko and spice it up with a little more cumin, garlic and onion powder, and salt. When you have coated all of the pieces, bake for about 25 minutes or more, depending on the size you've cut the chicken to, or until the coating is golden brown and crunchy and the internal temperature of the thickest piece is 170°F.
- These can be served as is with a variety of dips ~OR~
- Stir together the proportions of hot sauce and butter to create the degree of heat in the sauce you prefer. You can either serve this as a dip (as my husband prefers) or toss the crispy wings in the sauce. If you toss them in the sauce, serve them immediately as they do soften after a short while. These are wonderful with the traditional bleu cheese dip!
- Store leftover nuggets or wings, if you have any, tightly wrapped in the refrigerator and eat within 3 days.
Is anyone else weirded out by certain foods?
This post was originally published on September 25th, 2013.