Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Chicken Strips with Balsamic Dipping Sauce

Captain's Log

First, the excuses

I cannot BELIEVE I used to cook homemade meals, like those displayed on this blog, 3-4 times a week! My job has me on my feet all day, lifting, carrying, standing, walking, and the idea of chopping vegetables and browning meats just makes me tired. I used to enjoy it maybe 2-3 times a week when I had an office job, but I feel another level of physical exhaustion these days that just makes cooking feel like a burden. My schedule is also arranged in such a way that I never have two consecutive days off. This is because of a choice I made (more hours, more money!) but it's really made those involved, delicious meals a rarity. I do still cook, and my fellow helps quite a bit. It's just more of the heat-and-eat variety, or the classic our-kitchen-is-kind-of-a-mess-so-I-can't-take-good-blog-pictures-right-now. 

And now food

I got this recipe originally from (guess where?) The Food Network, and I've since adapted it some to suit my needs. The original recipe, for example, involves marinating the chicken. I don't do this. I also don't use the same vinegar/oil proportions recommended for the dipping sauce. These chicken strips, plus mac n cheese, is one if my love's favorite dinners. Here's what you need:
  • a package of chicken tenderloins (or sliced chicken breast)
  • 1-2 eggs
  • maybe 1 cup flour
  • maybe 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan or grated other hard cheese, like asiago
  • oil for drizzling
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • salt/pepper
  • a few tablespoons olive oil
I start by making the dipping sauce because it involves raw garlic and, in my humble opinion, it tastes better if it has a little time to sit. I grate two garlic cloves into a measuring cup using my microplane, and then I glug in some balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, and a little bit of oil. I don't measure, but, as you can see, the final product is right around 1/2 cup. Taste it to be sure there's enough salt.. you want it to have a kick from the salt, vinegar, and garlic. All powerful, separate elements.

This time I added a little dijon mustard to help it emulsify, but, in retrospect,
I think I prefer the sauce without it!
Then I get started on the chicken. Preheat the oven to 450-500°.. whichever your home can stand during these hot days. A toaster oven is also good for mitigating the heat. 

I set up my breading station:
Flour with S&P, beaten egg with a little water or milk to thin it, and breadcrumbs mixed with parm/asiago/other cheese. These are regular crumbs, but I think a mix of regular crumbs and panko would be awesome.
I prepared a baking sheet with foil 'n' oil, and then I started breading the chicken.

First, flour...
Shake off the excess so it just looks "dusted"
Then egg..
yes yes I know I should have taken the ring off
And, finally, breadcrumbs.
Really pack 'em on there
Then I line the tenders up on the aforementioned baking sheet so that, ideally, they're not touching.
I drizzled them with olive oil to help with browning, and then tossed them in the oven for 12-15 mins. Use that cooking time to prepare the vegetables.
Pretty good, right?
It's tempting to use a lower oven, in the 375-400° range, but it really has to be high up there in order to get crispy chicken. Otherwise it'll just be, like, kinda soft. 

And we're done!
All in all it's a pretty standard baked-fried-chicken recipe, but what makes it special is the garlicky balsamic sauce. Do it! It's amazing!

Administrative Note:

The wedding is in less than two months! Eeee!!! It's all very exciting. I fly east for practice hair, a final dress fitting, and the bridal shower next week. Then when I return it's back to work for a couple of weeks, and then my sister, one of my favorite people ever, will be visiting. Then a few weeks later I get married! It's a full couple of months. Perhaps we'll do a team post while she's here. Otherwise, well, I may not be around much. But I have every intention of returning to the blog once the dust settles.

1 comment:

  1. I would like to RT for a team post! or +1. Or 'Like'. A lot of 'Like.'

    This chicken looks amazing! I should never read your blog before lunch.