It’s hard to believe that it was very close to 20 years ago when this recipe was first transcribed. Megan was in kindergarten, and her teacher put together a cookbook for Mother’s Day. She asked the children to tell her how Mommy made their favorite food.
Megan knew exactly how her mom made her favorite-crispy chicken: “First you take the chicken. Then you put the crispy on it. Then you put it in the oven. Then you eat it,” Crispy chicken has always been a McGrath/Bernstein family favorite. A version was in my first cookbook, The Ugly Snuggly (a book named after a bathrobe). The seasonings, coatings, and toppings have varied, but the concept and process have survived two decades of family life.
The seasoned buttermilk soak makes the chicken tender and tasty. Gluten free, paleo and low carb cooks may substitute extra nuts and/or cheese for the panko.
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, organic and/or local are best
1 cup buttermilk
2 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
1 tsp salt 1 tsp crushed red pepper
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 1/2 cups panko (whole wheat if you like, see note)
1 cup toasted almonds, ground
1/2 cup grated parm
Cut the chicken into “fingers,” 3 or 4 strips per piece. Mix the next 5 ingredients in a sealable container or zip top bag, add the chicken, and get everything well mixed. Put the chicken to soak in the fridge for at least one and up to 8 hours.
Preheat the oven to 375°. Mix the panko, ground almonds, and parm in a wide, shallow bowl. Dredge the chicken fingers in the crumb mixture and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Dont crowd them unless you are cooking in a toaster oven and have no choice.
Bake for 25-35 minutes or until the crispy is nice and brown and the pieces feel firm to touch. you can always cut one to check. Make sure no one else sees you do this because then you have to share your little appetizer. Serve with your favorite dipping sauce* and lots of veggies. Leftovers are great for lunch over a nice salad! *If I get two requests in “comments,” I will give you the recipe for the Sweet and Spicy Sriracha Sesame Sauce pictured here.