One of my youngest son’s favorite meals is Parmesan chicken. He likes chicken and he loves pasta. Put the two together and he is extremely happy with dinner. I also enjoy Parmesan chicken (light on the pasta) but sometimes a big fat chicken breast is too much for me. Okay, I will admit I go for the chicken breast first when I eat fried chicken but that is a different kind of meal.
I decided to alter my recipe for Parmesan chicken by substituting chicken fingers for a full chicken breast. Thus, Parmesan Chicken Fingers was born. Using the chicken fingers allows everyone to choose exactly the right portion of meat for their appetites rather than filling their plates with a large single chicken breast.
To add an extra layer of crispiness to the chicken fingers I mixed in a little ground cornmeal with the panko bread crumbs for the coating. I wasn’t sure I could pull this one off with my taste testers but the guys loved it. Sometimes you just have to sneak in something new to a recipe and then sit back and wait for the reactions. I got the idea to add fine ground cornmeal from one of the many cooking shows I like to watch. I think the chef was making fried chicken (yeah, I went back to talking about fried chicken) and added cornmeal to the coating to add an extra layer of crunch. It looked so good on the plate I figured it would be good on my Parmesan Chicken Fingers too.
Bottom-line …. it worked! Such an easy recipe and thankfully a tasty one too.
Parmesan Chicken Fingers
2 packages chicken fingers
1 jar spaghetti sauce
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
½ cup panko bread crumbs
½ cup flour + 1 tbsp
½ cup frying olive oil or vegetable oil
¼ cup finely ground cornmeal
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tbsp milk
1 tbsp flour
1 tbsp salt
½ tbsp ground black pepper
½ tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Season chicken fingers with salt and pepper. Place ½ cup flour on a plate and set aside. Beat eggs with milk and set aside.
Mix panko bread crumbs, cornmeal, 1 tbsp flour, grated Parmesan cheese and red pepper flakes in a bowl.
Dredge chicken in flour (shake off excess) then dip in egg mixture. Roll in bread crumbs and place on a cookie sheet to rest.
Heat oil in a no stick frying pan over medium heat. Test the oil to see if it is hot by place the thick end of a chopstick in the center of the pan. It you see rapid bubbles then the oil is hot (Thanks for the tip Mama Noi). Fry the chicken in batches until lightly golden brown. Drain on a paper towel.
Place chicken in a casserole dish and drizzle with spaghetti sauce and top with mozzarella cheese. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes until cheese is melted and golden. Serve with pasta.
P.S. For the grand kids I make Parmesan Chicken Fingers with a honey mustard or BBQ dipping sauce.