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Chicken Fingers

November 9, 2010
The Journal

By Wendy Monro

Well, miracle of miracles, as I looked into the refrigerator the other day to plan what we would have for dinner, Jack says, "Mom, I am over cheeseburgers."

I stopped what I was doing and closed the fridge door to look at him directly. I asked him to repeat what he just said.

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The chicken fingers are served with homemade onion rings and French fries, ketchup and ranch sauces.

Yes, I heard him correctly; he is officially done eating cheeseburgers for every meal. It would have been nice had he come to this conclusion a few days ago, before I bought a huge box of them at Sam's Club.

What will I do with all of those burgers? I am sure he isn't finished with cheeseburgers all together.

Now this is what Daphne would call a "crossed blessing" and what everyone else would call a mixed blessing.

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Chicken Fingers Recipe

Serves: 4

Time: 30 minutes

5 cups of canola oil (depends on the size of your deep fryer or the pot you will use because the chicken will have to be completely submerged into the oil).

4 chicken breasts

3 cups flour

1 cup corn meal

2 teaspoon garlic salt

1 teaspoon pepper

1 teaspoon Emeril's Essence

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

3 eggs

1 cup milk

1/3 cup water

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Preheat oil to 375 degrees. Slice the chicken into strips. Combine flour, corn meal, garlic salt, pepper, Essence, paprika and cayenne pepper. Mix well. In another bowl, combine eggs, milk and water. Beat well. Dip the chicken strips into the egg mixture and then into the flour mixture. Lower the battered chicken strips into the hot oil for about four minutes, until they are crispy and golden brown. Lay them onto a cookie sheet. Once they are all fried, place the tray into the oven and cook for another fifteen minutes. Cut through one of them to make sure the chicken is cooked all of the way through. Serve with onion rings, fries, cut up carrots, and celery. Also, serve with ranch and ketchup (or your favorite dipping sauce).

If you are going to make onion rings, use the exact same batter mixture as above (wet and dry). Then, you just substitute sliced onions for the chicken. These were so delicious.

Cheeseburgers have always been my back up plan for Jack, just as the frozen salmon filets are my back up plan for Daphne. No matter what I am making for dinner, I can whip up these other things for Daphne and Jack and be just fine.

Then again, it will make me feel more comfortable knowing he is eating less red meat. I thought to myself, maybe he'll try to like some fish or include more vegetables into his diet. I thought, maybe he will start to like rice or potatoes or pasta even.

Nope, his new thing is chicken fingers. Yes, another fried food. All he wants is chicken fingers now. I am not even sure where this came about because I don't remember him having chicken fingers lately.

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After telling me he was over cheeseburgers, all he could talk about was chicken fingers with ranch. I told him we would go out and get some the following weekend. I knew they served them in the restaurant where he plays hockey on Sunday.

So, on Sunday, I picked up some chicken fingers with ranch and he absolutely loved them. He couldn't eat them all in one sitting and took the rest home.

He savored those chicken fingers for three days. After that, I told him I would learn how to make them at home. He was very excited. He always tells me that I never make anything for my article that he likes. I always tell him that everyone already knows how to make a plain cheeseburger with way too much ketchup.

That week I only had chicken thighs. I cut the thighs into strips, battered them and fried them in the Dutch oven with olive oil. They were good and Jack liked them. How could he even notice the flavor of the chicken with loads of ranch smothered on each bite?

I probably could have battered and fried tofu and he wouldn't have known. I knew they weren't just right. They didn't seem like the ones you order at the bar.

I decided to do it properly. I went out and bought some chicken breasts and a big bottle of canola oil. I thought, if I was going to do this properly, I needed to dig out the deep fryer and dust that baby off. I hadn't seen my deep fryer for at least a year.

Once I got it ready, I realized we needed some French fries to go with this. Then, I thought, why not onion rings as well? If we are going to fry something, why not fry everything?

So, I made chicken strips, French fries, and onion rings. I only had red potatoes; but, they still turned out very tasty. The onion rings were to die for.

Unfortunately, everyone kept coming in to the kitchen stealing the fries and rings while I was cooking. There wasn't much left of those by the time the chicken was ready. It didn't matter. Jack was in heaven.

This morning, no joke, Jack told me he is going to become a vegetarian like Daphne. I said, what about all of those chicken fingers I just made? He said he would eat those first. Jack a vegetarian? We'll see.



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