A comfort meal: chicken fingers and roasted potatoes
For dinner tonight, I am making baked chicken fingers and savory potatoes.
I contemplate whether the potatoes should be chunks and tossed with spices, or whether I want to cut them into the normal fry shape and even try to coat them. Seasoned fries complete with some kind of coating around the potato seems trendy, and part of me wants to experiment. However, savory potatoes that are coated with spices and cooked in the oven until crisp are pretty amazing.
And I am all about food memories. And doing things as simply as I can.
For the chicken, I buy one breast that is boneless and one breast that is on the bone. Together, the two breasts weighed about a pound and a quarter.
If you have a sharp knife, I highly recommend buying the one with the bone, which is less costly per pound, and, yes, you do pay for the bone. However with a chicken breast, most of the weight is in the meat, and with that bone you can make a flavorful broth. (Medium saucepan, ¾ full with water; bones; 1 small-medium onion, peeled, quartered; 1 carrot, broken in half; a celery stalk, if you have it. You can add herbs or spices, but they are not really necessary. I put in some sage from the garden. I thought of it as tea.)
I cut the breast on the diagonal, and because it was big I cut it again through the middle. I put some flour and spices in a bowl, add the chicken and mix until it is well coated.
I cut the potatoes into uneven chunks and then put them in a gallon plastic bag, toss in the spices and shake. I coat the bottom of a baking sheet with olive oil and pour the potatoes on the sheet. Using a spatula, I toss the potatoes until they are well coated.
Because the potatoes will take longer to bake than the chicken—50 vs. 20 minutes—I put them in the oven first. After only a few minutes there are savory smells in the kitchen.
Now back to the chicken. To bread, I start by pouring two beaten eggs into the bowl with chicken pieces, and then using a fork, I mix to coat the chicken. I pour the breadcrumbs (I use Panko, but regular is fine) into a shallow bowl, and then, using a fork, I toss the chicken into the crumbs about five or six at a time.
I fry the leftover egg in some sesame oil and cut into strips for the salad.
After the potatoes have been in the oven for 10 minutes, I remove the baking tray, push them to one side and load on the coated chicken. I toss it in the oil and bake for about 20 minutes, turning once. With salad and a dipping sauce, it is a comforting meal.
The chicken and the potatoes cost $3.31 at Pete’s in Narrowsburg; the salad was from the garden. There was at least another meal’s worth of chicken. I’ve been snacking on it for the last several days. (I stored it in the plastic bag that I tossed the potatoes in. The extra spices on the inside of the bag are a plus.)
I have a memory of husband Stephen licking his fingers at the end of the meal and saying “Now that was a comforting meal.” (Really, I didn’t prompt him.)
Making food memories. That’s what it’s all about. It’s simple.
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3 yellow or red potatoes, scrubbed and cut into uneven chunks
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. smoked paprika (you can use plain)
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
1 tsp. sugar (optional)
2 large chicken breasts (sliced on the diagonal and cut in half through the middle to make “finger” shape)
½ cup flour
½ tsp. garlic powder
½ tsp. smoked paprika
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
2 eggs, beaten
1 – 1½ cup of bread crumbs (Panko or regular)
For the potatoes: Cut up potatoes, place in bowl or plastic bag. Mix spices in small bowl and coat potatoes. Add oil to bottom of a baking sheet, toss potatoes. Heat oven to 350°. Bake potatoes for 30 minutes, tossing after 15 minutes. Continue to bake with chicken on the tray.
For the chicken: Cut up, toss with flour and spices, add beaten egg, coat in breadcrumbs. Arrange on baking pan. Bake for 20 minutes.