Frozen chicken fingers have nothing over homemade chicken fingers, which are surpisingly quick and simple to make. A cornmeal breading imparts a sweet, slightly nutty flavor that kids, especially, appreciate. If you don't have cornmeal, use polenta instead. Start with thawed boneless chicken breasts and cut them into one-inch strips. The thinner they are, the faster they'll cook. Use fresh oil to fry them and keep the oil hot, but not smoking.
You can easily substitute polenta for cornmeal as a breading for chicken fingers, because the two are essentially the same product. Polenta is typically cornmeal with a slightly coarser grind for a rustic flavor. Some polenta products are instant, meaning that they cook in about five minutes when water is added. Both regular and quick-cooking polenta are interchangeable with cornmeal, although coarsely ground polenta makes a slightly crunchier, more robust breading.
To substitute polenta for cornmeal, pour the polenta into a wide dish. Use the same amount of polenta that you would cornmeal -- typically 1 or 2 cups, depending on how much chicken you have. Season it with your desired seasonings, such as salt, pepper, chipotle chili powder or chicken seasoning. Dredge the chicken pieces in the breading and fry them in hot oil on the stove top. Be sure to salt and pepper the chicken pieces before you dredge them so they're well seasoned. You can also dip the chicken in beaten egg or milk before dredging if you prefer; this produces a crispier coating and alllows more of the polenta to adhere to the chicken.
When you think of polenta, you might think of the rustic Italian dish, in which cornmeal has been cooked with water and seasonings to make a sort of porridge. Prepared polenta won't work as a breading, because it won't stick to the chicken fingers. Use only dry polenta for breading. Prepared polenta can be served as mush or allowed to cool to a firm consistency. Once firm, it can be cut into slices and topped with marinara sauce and cheese. You can also grill or saute sliced polenta.
Kids appreciate chicken fingers served with nothing but ketchup, but you can gussy up this simple dish with a fancy sauce. Try ranch or blue cheese dressing or make a fruity sauce by combining fruit preserves, such as apricot or blackberry, Dijon mustard and honey.
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