Monday, January 10, 2011

Crusty Chicken Tenders Parmesan and Fines Herbes

These are especially good served cold the next day.

Okay. This recipe actually begins with pledge and a promise. Raise your right hand and repeat after me: "I promise never ever to use store-bought breadcrumbs. They are bad. They are nasty. They are sawdust. I will always make fresh breadcrumbs. So help me God!"

See, wasn't that easy? I think dried commercial breadcrumbs are a relic of the 1950s or something when chunks of SPAM was an ingredient preserved in JELL-O. I'm sure they all have their uses, (and I do like JELL-O), but fresh breadcrumbs are so superior to the dried there is just no question in my mind at all. And they just don't work in this recipe. I tried.

To make fresh breadcrumbs simply add
torn up bread to mini-prep and pulse.
Store unused crumbs in freezer for later use.
After experimenting with store-bought breadcrumbs (they overpowered the taste of the cheese and herbs with their "powdery saw dust), then tried all fresh breadcrumbs (took too long to brown and crisp up in the oven, but they sopped up the butter and juices really well) to Panko breadcrumbs (too crisp and too much crunch.)

Finally, I used half fresh and half Panko. Perfect! The fresh crumbs absorbed the butter without fighting for the cheese/herb flavor, and the Panko crumbs gave just the right amount of crunch.

I do not recommend the thin-sliced chicken breasts one now finds in the markets. They bake in about ten minutes, not enough time for the bread-crumb mixture to brown resulting in a tough, overdone chicken. You want a chicken filet about 1/2-3/4 inch thick. I've gotten thick ones and merely sliced through them lengthwise. Large chicken tenders work very well, too, and it's what I used for the illustrations of this recipe. If you have children, they will prefer the tenders. Allow these to cool a bit before serving. Refrigerated leftovers are great served cold.

Look for large, meaty tenders. Rinse and pat dry on paper towel.

Baked Chicken Parmesan with Fines Herbes
  • 1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs
  • 6 tablespoons Kraft Parmesan & Romano Grated Cheese
  • 1 heaping tablespoon fines herbes 
  •    click here to go to recipe: Kitchen Bounty: Fines Herbes
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 3 chicken breasts or about 10 large chicken tenders
  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted

Lightly spray a baking dish large enough to accommodate either the breasts or the tenders. OR (and this is the way I now do it) line a cookie sheet with foil. Preheat oven to 400 F degrees,

Combine the dry ingredients on a plate of sheet of waxed paper. Have the melted butter ready in a small bowl. 

Dip chicken in butter and then roll in crumbs coating liberally. Place in prepared baking dish. (May be made ahead and refrigerated until ready to use.)

Try not to crowd the chicken. Place in oven and bake for about 20 minutes, uncovered and without turning over, until golden.

Cheesy, salty, herby. I love 'em!

Allow to cool 10-15 minutes. Because of the rich nature of this dish, serve with plain rice and a vegetable. 

Notes: I had no problem using the Kraft cheese. You may, of course, use fresh and grate your own. But good Parmesan and Romano is extremely expensive. This recipe is easily doubled.

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