09/06/2013 11:57 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

The Simplest and Best Chicken Fingers

Food52 co-founder Merrill Stubbs' baby, Clara, has quite the appetite -- and it's all Merrill can do to keep up. Armed with her greenmarket bag, a wooden spoon and a minimal amount of fuss, she steps into the fray. 

Today: Merrill shares her own mother's recipe for chicken fingers.

Well, I said I was going to do it, and now I'm doing it: I'm writing about my mother's amazing chicken fingers.

Her chicken fingers were among our favorite treats growing up. I'm sure they were the most requested food item for any birthday party we had at home between the ages of 5 and 12 -- which was most of them. After all, this was back in the 80s, when a well-orchestrated scavenger hunt or a game of Sardines constituted a birthday party.

The chicken fingers were just as good the next day, long after the birthday cake crumbs ground into the rug by little feet had been vacuumed away, either reheated gently in a warm oven or -- yes, I'll admit it -- eaten straight from the fridge.

The breadcrumb coating my mother used was packed full of flavor (and plenty of salt, which is key), and she was careful not to overcook the chicken, so it was tender rather than stringy. She sautéed the chicken fingers in a mixture of oil and butter and drained them well on paper towels, so they were never greasy.

After some strategic interviews with my mother about her process and some fiddling with the breading ingredients, I think I've come up with a reasonable simulation of her beloved chicken fingers. So far, Clara seems to like them. It remains to be seen if she'll request them for birthday parties.

Chicken Fingers

Makes 10 to 12 large chicken fingers

1/2 cup all purpose flour

Salt and pepper

1 cup dry breadcrumbs (panko works well)

1/3 cup grated Parmesan

1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh oregano

2 large eggs

4 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 tablespoons butter

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut lengthwise into 1-inch strips and pounded gently until about 1/3-inch thick

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here. 

Photos by James Ransom