Nowadays, when I think of "fast food", I think of cross-contamination, of egg and milk breading migrating through hot oil to attack The Kid's beloved french fries or chicken strips. (You don't want to know how I reacted when I found out that Chik-fil-A fries everything in peanut oil!) After much experimentation, I've managed a respectable, and healthier, homemade chicken strip. I tried different breadings: soft bread crumbs, cornflakes, and panko, by themselves and in various combinations. This is the best result I've found, but I'd love to hear any suggestions. I think that a cornflake and dry bread crumb combination would be best, but I'm unable to find a safe commercial brand of crumbs. As usual, be sure to read the labels on all ingredients.
3 chicken breast halves Stage 1:
1/2 C all-purpose flour Stage 2:
1/4 C honey, microwaved 10-20 seconds
1 Tbs dijon mustard
1 Tbs lemon juice
1 Tbs vegetable oil
2 C corn flakes
1 C panko (Japanese style bread crumbs)
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
Preheat oven to 375F. Line a broiler pan or cookie sheet with nonstick aluminum foil. (You could also coat a pan with vegetable oil, but I have not tried it.) Measure out the corn flakes into a quart size ziploc bag. Try to squeeze out all the air before closing tightly and giving to your child with the instructions to smoosh the cornflakes into the smallest pieces possible. (Accompanied by threats of bodily harm if the bag is opened in a carpeted area.)
Place flour on a large plate. Microwave honey in a medium bowl, then whisk in mustard, lemon juice, and oil with a fork. Leave the fork in the bowl for use with the chicken. Mix together crushed corn flakes, panko, paprika, garlic powder, and salt on another large plate. Cut each chicken breast half against the grain into six pieces, making the strips in the thicker part of the chicken slightly narrower, so that they are closer to the same size.
Put your chicken pieces through the three stage assembly line. Dredge each chunk o' chicken in the flour, being sure to tap off any excess. Drop gently into the honey mixture. Use the fork to turn chicken over and place on the breading plate. (Sticking your fingers in the bowl will lead to an unbelievable mess.) Cover both sides of the chicken with the breading mixture and place directly onto pan without allowing the chicken pieces to touch each other. Repeat until all the chicken is breaded.
Bake chicken for 25 minutes, increasing or decreasing the time by 5 minutes if the breasts are unusually thick or scrawny. Cut into the thickest piece of chicken to make sure all pink is gone and the juices are running clearly. Now practice saying, "No, this is better than McDonald's!"