last week i was seeking some food inspiration. i had already planned on making this for dinner, but i knew that a vegetarian cous cous dish alone wouldn’t fly with my other half. so i decided to do some kind of baked chicken finger, but i didn’t really want to use bread crumbs (i’m trying to cut down on bread and white flour, not that it’s really sticking). so i was scouring epicurious and found this kinda crazy recipe for chicken fingers dredged in dijon mustard and rolled in crushed cheez-its. i thought the cheez-it idea was a little on the gross side – maybe because i’m not really a fan of the crackers? what really “cracked” me up (haha get it?) was one of the comments on the recipe – a woman didn’t have cheez-its on hand, but she did have cheetos…i’m glad i wasn’t invited to her house that night. i realized i had a ton of ground almonds left over from some breakfast bars i made at christmas…so i tried it out and lo and behold they were danm good. tender and juicy on the inside with a nice crunch and some tang from the dijon. the breading is a little on the delicate side, but for the most part held up just fine. obviously this has been done before – i’ve seen pecan-crusted chicken so i bet any nut you like will do.
Almond-crusted chicken tenders
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 1/2 cups almond meal (ground in processor or blender)
- 1 1/4 lb chicken tenders (not coated or cooked)
- 1/3 cup Dijon mustard
Put oven rack in lower third of oven and preheat oven to 475°F. Brush a large shallow baking pan with oil (2 tablespoons) or spray generously with cooking spray. I highly recommend using a silpat or covering pan with foil first; the breading may stick.
Toss tenders with mustard in a large bowl until coated, then dredge, 2 at a time, in almonds until evenly coated. Arrange tenders in 1 layer, without crowding, on pan. Bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes total, turning the pan around halfway through.