Now, I think everyone likes chicken fingers or tenders, but I get tired of those made the traditional way with the seasoned bread crumbs, parmesan cheese and a marinara sauce for dipping. So, I tried to come up with something a bit spicy and a unique dipping sauce for a unique taste. This is my version. Spicy seasoning, and the panko makes it a bit lighter. Baked vs fried and then the aioli is to me what sets this apart. Since this is finger food, I love to serve this with fresh corn on the cob, and my salad cups. Basically a small chopped salad served in a small lettuce cup. This just makes it a great easy "finger food" dinner.
Chicken and Seasoning
- 1 1⁄2 lbs chicken breasts (boneless skinless, you can use tenders as well)
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika (smoked is important in this dish)
- 2 teaspoons dried basil
- 1⁄2 teaspoon cayenne (more if you like things a bit spicier)
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1⁄2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1⁄2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- 1 1⁄2 cups panko breadcrumbs (ground fine)
- 2 eggs
- 1⁄2 cup flour
- cooking spray
- 3⁄4 cup mayonnaise
- 2 1⁄2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 1⁄2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped fine (you can use a bit more basil if you want, I often use a bit more, according to your taste)
- Aioli -- Mix the mayonnaise, red wine vinegar, garlic, basil, salt and pepper. Check for seasoning and cover and refrigerate.
- Chicken -- I like to cut the chicken into finger size pieces. I don't like them too thin as they will dry out, but because they are baked I like to cut them around 1/2" thick (I like to think they are about the size and thickness of my thumb).
- Chicken Flour Base -- In a large baggie add the flour, salt and pepper. Dredge each chicken piece in the flour mixture and then toss well to coat. Make sure to shake off the excess flour. Just set to the side until they are all coated.
- Panko and Egg -- I like to grind up the panko a bit to make the crumbs a bit finer. I just used my mini food processor to grind them up. Then to the panko, I added all the seasonings (except the salt and pepper) which we already used in the flour mix. Then add the panko to a small pan. In another pan, add the eggs and beat well.
- Dredge -- Now dip each piece of chicken, already dredged in flour into the egg and then the panko seasoning. Set on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or you can use foil.
- Bake -- Spray the chicken with olive oil (both sides). Now I have an atomizer which I fill with olive oil. But you can buy a olive oil spray like "Pam." right at the store. But I use my atomizer all the time and well worth the 10.00 investment. Those recipes that cause for a drizzle of olive oil -- using an atomizer will save you tons of money. Well, time to bake. I bake at 400 for about 12-15 minutes depending on the thickness of the chicken. They should be golden brown.
- Serve -- Just serve the chicken strips with the Basil Aioli.