Based on general perception, if the meat counter is the ice cream parlor, the flank steak would be chocolate raspberry; the pork belly, salted carmel; the ahi tuna steak is watermelon sorbet; and chicken would most likely be vanilla…maybe cookie dough.
Two easy options are buying enough garlic and/or pecans to choke a horse at your local green grocer and asking yourself “What would the Barefoot Contessa and/or Virginia Willis do?” and/or you could also make the following chicken fingers that were recently in Saveur, which automatically makes them classy.
Chicken fingers with honey-mustard-rosemary dipping sauce and Andre 3000’s kale/collards recipe? You too can have all this.
First, add the Dolly Parton and Beyonce stations to your Pandora account if you haven’t already, put them on shuffle and get out the mayonaise (also, just so you know, you’re about to hear some early 2000s Usher hits).
I use Savannah Bee Company Sourwood Honey for nearly everything that requires honey. Much like J. Crew cardigans, cars with two sunroofs, mail-order bacon, a Third Man Records Platinum Vault Membership or a Dyson, it isn’t the cheapest of comforts, but it’s one that I think is worth it. Besides, a vacuum cleaner won’t do anything for your cornbread situation.
First, make the dipping sauce by mixing together:
- 1 1/2 cups of mayonnaise (preferably Duke’s)
- 1/4 cup honey
- 2 tablespoons chopped rosemary
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon dry mustard powder
- Salt and pepper to taste
You can easily halve this if making dinner for a smaller group of people or gnomes.
For the chicken fingers, cut 2 lbs. of boneless, skinless chicken breasts into 1 inch wide planks. Toss them with the following in a large bowl:
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 tablespoon black pepper
- 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon dry mustard powder
Put a cup of flour in one pie dish, 4 lightly beaten eggs in another pie dish and 3 cups of panko breadcrumbs in another. Heat some canola oil to 325 American degrees in a cast iron skillet, braiser, pan or something that won’t catch fire. One plank at a time, dredge each piece in flour, shake of excess, dip in egg, coat in panko and fry until outside is golden brown.
If you haven’t clicked on the link to Andre 3000’s kale recipe in the latest issue of Bon Appetit, you should because it is wondrous. I used collards instead of kale, but I’m sure both are equally good much like Outkast’s Speakerboxx/The Love Below.
Or if that chicken fingers don’t blow your skirt up, you could make Southern cooking genius Virginia Willis’ Oven-Fried Chicken Breasts with Pecan Crust with some fingerling potatoes, haricot verte and Willis’ Vidalia Honey Mustard Dressing.
Miss Willis kindly has the recipe online here, and if you do everything she tells you, it should all work out. Although I will say if you don’t enjoy jamming out to El Camino while eating Fresh Market’s Wasabi Wonder mix in close proximity to your oven, choose smaller chicken breasts that won’t require more time and checkin’ up on.
Once you try this Vidalia Onion Honey Mustard Dressing with the potatoes and haricot verte, you’ll need this link too. After I bought this cookbook at one of my favorite bookstores, E. Shaver in Savannah, I carried it around with me to people’s houses and coffee shops for a good week. I even woke up with it next to me one morning.
- 1/2 Vidalia Onion (Sweet or Walla Walla will work if you live up North and can’t find those awesome bags of Vidalias they bring out once a year with Blake Shelton and Carrie Underwood on the label)
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons honey (Sourwood, Tupleo or Orange Blossom work best)
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1/2 cup canola oil
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
Rev up the engine on your food processor and pulse the onion until smooth. Add the vinegar, honey and mustard until combined. Add the oil in a steady stream until you have reached emulsification. Taste and adjust with salt, sugar and pepper. The dressing will keep for three days and tastes good on about any salad you can come up with.
The third option from Ina Garten requires you to have access to a whole mess of garlic. Literally, as in you will have garlic peels all over your sink and/or floor. So if you’re not too tired after finding 40 cloves of garlic and peeling each one, we can start Ina’s increable Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic, which is a pretty common French recipe, but I think Ina’s contains the best ingredients. Zut Alors!
All this typing has made my chicken fingers ache, so I’m going to direct you to the Food Network’s compendium of recipes for the directions. If you read the recipe four or five times and design a game plan, it actually isn’t that difficult. The next time I make this, I plan to use just legs and thighs. My boyfriend and I rarely fight, but I was pretty steamed when he took the last piece of dark meat. Also, the sauce that is born out of this recipe is so good, you’ll dream of wading in a kiddie pool filled with it.
I found a cookin-sized bottle of Hennessy at Shivs, the only liquor store open on Sunday in Savannah. I normally don’t frequent places named after prison weapons, but I had a deep hankering for this recipe. It turns out Shivs is actually a fairly decent purveyor of booze.
It’s very important to get your chicken skin browned before you leave it to stew in its own juices, but don’t go crazy unless you happen to be listening to Prince, which I also highly recommend for cooking music.
Ina uses so much thyme in her recipes that it’s a good idea to have a Barefoot Contessa Festival for two or three days so you can use up all the fresh thyme you’ve bought/grown/stolen from your neighbor’s herb garden.
It’s definitely not the Adriana Lima of chicken dishes, and the awful lighting in my house at night sure doesn’t help matters, but it’s so so so good. The garlic cloves become sweet and mashable after they are roasted and taste great mixed with potatoes and asparagus.
If this novella of a post doesn’t convince you to give chicken a chance, I don’t know what else I can do short of writing a three part song about these recipes with Paul Simon or flying to your house to make you all three.
Ask not what your chicken can do for you. Ask what you can do for your chicken.