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This Is Why All Decisions Regarding Cheese Should Go Through Me

I just learned something weird.

In the 1630s, the Dutch became obsessed with tulipsThey threw tulip-themed dinner parties.  They met at taverns after work to drink wine and look at bulbs, and they made crazy–absolutely crazy– financial decisions in the hope that the price of tulips would keep going up.

Tulips only bloom in April and May for about one week, so during the rest of the year people signed contracts to sell bulbs they wouldn’t have until the end of the blooming season.  This essentially started a market in tulip futures.  [STAY WITH ME, LIBERAL ARTS PEOPLE.]  The price of tulip contracts rose and rose until the Dutch were trading the most ridiculous things for them.  According to an article in The Paris Review, one particularly nutty guy traded the following items for a rare bulb.  I repeat: for ONE (1) SINGLE BULB, he pledged:

a bed
a suit
a silver goblet
4 fat oxen
8 fat pigs
12 fat sheep
160 gallons of wine
2 tons of butter
2.5 tons of wheat
4 tons of beer
5 tons of rye
1,000 lbs. of cheese

To be clear, that was A THOUSAND POUNDS OF CHEESE.  Probably Gouda, no less.

You know the thought experiment “If you could go back in time and have dinner with one person, who would you pick?”  Well I’d pick that guy.  I’d go over to his place, pour myself some of that wine, scratch each of his 12 fat sheep behind the ears, and then I’d whack him upside the head.  Because I’m pretty sure the ancient documents say HE THAT KNOWETH A THOUSAND POUNDS OF CHEESE SHALL NOT WASTETH THEM LIKE AN IDIOT.

I do not wantonly give away cheese, you guys.  I take it very seriously.

I suspect you’re a bunch of cheese lovers too, so I want to introduce you to these Parmesan chicken fingers.  They’re worth approximately 100 tulip bulbs in today’s currency.

chicken fingersThe dish comes together in about 30 minutes.  All you have to do is combine the wet ingredients, combine the dry ingredients, and dredge the chicken in both.  Then throw it in the oven for about 15 minutes.chicken fingers For the past two months, these chicken fingers have been in our weekly meal rotation.  They’re juicy on the inside, slightly tangy from the mayo and the buffalo sauce coating, and crunchy on the outside.  Not crunchy like fried crunchy, but pleasantly crisp in a healthier, baked way.

But back to our story–

On February 7, 1637, the tulip bubble burst.  The tulip speculators were ruined.  The Dutch people went back to polishing their clogs and snacking on herring, since chicken fingers hadn’t been invented yet.

The End.

Baked Chicken Fingers {Download & Print Recipe}
by eggton
(I was inspired by my friend Caitlin, and I developed a version of this recipe for Life & Beauty Weekly magazine.)
I highly recommend using panko breadcrumbs where called for in this recipe.  I’ve done it with regular canned bread crumbs, which are more finely ground, and the chicken fingers aren’t as light and crunchy as when I make it with panko.  The cayenne, along with the buffalo sauce, give the chicken fingers a little kick.  If you’re making these for kids who don’t like spicy food, be sure to use mild buffalo sauce (or substitute Dijon mustard) and leave out the cayenne.  I prefer to buy chicken breasts and cut them into strips instead of buying chicken tenders, which often have a strip of tendony stuff running down the middle.

Ingredients:

1 1/2-2 lbs. chicken breasts or chicken tenders

1/2 c. panko breadcrumbs

1/2 c. seasoned breadcrumbs

1/2 c. grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese

4 Tbsp. butter, melted

1/4 c. mayonnaise

1/4 c. buffalo sauce

1/2 tsp. cayenne (optional, makes it a little spicy)

1/4 tsp. dry mustard (optional)

1/8 tsp. salt

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Rinse and clean the chicken, and if you have chicken breasts instead of tenders, use kitchen scissors to cut the breasts into strips.  (It doesn’t matter how wide
your strips are, just try to be consistent so your pieces will cook evenly).  Place the chicken pieces on a paper towel and pat dry.
In a pie tin or large shallow bowl, combine both bread crumbs, Parmesan, the cayenne and dry mustard (if using) and salt.  Stir to combine.  Drizzle the melted butter over the dry ingredients and mix with a fork (or better yet, your hands) until the dry ingredients are evenly moistened.

In a separate small bowl, combine the buffalo sauce and the mayonnaise. Stir to combine.  Have a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a pyrex dish handy.  To prepare the chicken fingers, take a piece of chicken and dip part of it in the buffalo sauce mixture.  Use your fingers to lightly coat the chicken—you don’t want it totally gloppy otherwise your chicken fingers will be soggy.  Then dredge the chicken in the crumb mixture, flipping it over and using your fingers to lightly pack a thick crumb coating onto the chicken.  Transfer the chicken finger to the baking sheet.  Repeat with the remaining chicken.  (You may need two baking sheets or do two batches.)

Bake the chicken until it’s cooked through.  This may only take 10-15 minutes for thin pieces of chicken, longer if the chicken you  have on the thick side.  Confirm the chicken is no longer pink in the middle by cutting a piece off one of the thickest chicken fingers and testing it.

Serve with dipping sauces like BBQ, ketchup, buffalo sauce, honey mustard, or ranch.

~~~

This is what it looks like outside our house.snowBut it’s okay, because this is what it looks like inside.thunder and scott sleeping

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68 Comments Post a comment
  1. a #

    That chicken sounds delicious!

    Gotta love when the snowpile blocks the street signs. The North is going all out to welcome you, isn’t it?

    February 7, 2014
    • The North is definitely pulling out all the stops. People keep saying this is abnormal, but to be honest, I’m ok so far because I expected the absolute worst. I hear April gets to be kind of a drag because it’s *still* cold. I’m going back to Alabama next weekend–I can’t wait to be outside!

      February 7, 2014
      • texascritter #

        Did they put the second Washington sign up just in case the snow gets higher? 🙂

        The chicken sounds terrific, I’m not a chicken fingers fan but that looks so scrumptious, I just might try it!

        February 8, 2014
        • Ha! I didn’t even think about the second sign, but now that you mention it, that’s pretty funny. The snow is up past the 1 step and the back door now. when we open it to let the dogs out, snow comes right in onto the carpet!

          February 8, 2014
  2. The cheese-for-tulips travesty is more than made up for by this delicious-looking cheese-on chicken recipe. And by this sweetest-ever face of Thunder.

    February 7, 2014
    • Thunder’s face makes up for a lot. For example, the other day I found her chewing on my comforter….

      February 7, 2014
  3. These. Look. Delicious. I make a similar recipe but with buttermilk instead of mayo and – brace yourself – this CHIPOTLE TABASCO SAUCE. But mayo?? I’m intrigued. I always see that commercial by the mayo industry on TV like “BAKE YOUR CHICKEN COVERED IN MAYO AND IT WILL BE DELICIOUS” but I feel like they are lying to me, because they’re the mayo industry. And that sounds WEIRD. But I think I will have to try this, because I like you and I trust you and buttermilk is SO last year (or last 50 years – or something) – WATCH OUT! I’M JUMPIN’ ON THE MAYO TRAIN!

    February 7, 2014
    • Right back at you, sister–I’ve never marinated chicken in buttermilk, but I was just reading about the science behind it (breaks down proteins, maybe, to tenderize the meat? Heck if I remember) and thinking I wanted to try it. I’ve also heard that Jamie Oliver’s chicken in milk is divine. Anyway, I tend to hate mayo. I don’t like it on my sandwiches. Even homemade aoli—something about the texture just puts me off. So I was really surprised when I LOVED fish coated with mayo and then coated with salt and vinegar potato chips and baked. I absolutely loved it. (https://eggton.com/2012/06/24/live-reporting-from-the-bathtub-in-a-helmet/) So I decided to give chicken and mayo a try, and now I’m convinced that mayo is a great coater of things. I guess I wouldn’t say I’m ON the mayo train; I guess I’d say I’m hanging off the caboose of the mayo train with one hand…

      February 7, 2014
      • Jamie’s chicken cooked in milk is fabulous and I vouch for it absolutely!

        February 8, 2014
      • Amy #

        Mayo on fish makes the most tender, delicious fish! I do a mayo/ketchup or sour cream/ketchup combo that I spread on top of fillets and bake. My mom used to make it growing up and it’s so yummy.

        February 20, 2014
  4. Barb #

    Is there a recommended amount of melted buttert?

    February 7, 2014
    • Barb, thank you so much for pointing that out. I really appreciate it. I am so scatterbrained. It’s 4 Tbsp. I changed the recipe to reflect that. Thank you!

      February 7, 2014
  5. Barb #

    I just sent the last question — but I really didn’t want my email to appear! Can you just include the amount in the recipe? Many thanks. Barb

    February 7, 2014
    • Hi again! I fixed your comment to enter your name so it wouldn’t show your email. It should be gone now. Sorry for the confusion!

      February 7, 2014
  6. Well at least you’re eating good. The professor is pleased to hear you have great survival skills. You must have a Punchyish nature. That little pup with you sure does can see it in the face. That’ll do it right?

    February 7, 2014
    • We are trying, my friend! Trying to survive, although after this morning I do think I need to learn how to “shovel with my knees, not my back”…

      February 7, 2014
  7. These look AWESOME! What does not look awesome is that picture of outside your house. Also, that guy was flat-out wrong. One does not simply exchange 1000 pounds of cheese for 1 tulip bulb. Thanks for sharing (both the recipe and the story)!

    February 7, 2014
    • Can you believe that snow? It’s basically THE OPPOSITE of the print of the Italian coast that you wrote about. THE OPPOSITE!

      February 7, 2014
  8. These look great! And imagine… chicken tenders made from pieces of actual chicken! 😉 I’ve been holding out giving my kid anything resembling a chicken nugget because I have a feeling it’s one of those point-of-no-return type of things in a toddler diet, but I might have to give these a shot. Thanks!

    February 7, 2014
    • Also, I just read your “About” and saw you’re in Chicago, too! As someone born and raised here, I can honestly tell you this winter is the worst in the history of… ever. Take me with you to Alabama, please!

      February 7, 2014
      • I hear you on kids and chicken nuggets. They’re, like, pathological about them. I just watched this video from McDonalds (Cargill, I guess, is its parent company?) about what goes into chicken nuggets. It’s funny that they say “a natural amount of chicken skin” goes into the nuggets as a binder. Like “natural” means anything. The chicken skin is the one thing they don’t show (shocker.) Gross. http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2014/02/06/272112028/oh-so-thats-what-goes-into-a-mcdonalds-chicken-mcnugget

        February 7, 2014
        • Chicken skin doesn’t seem too bad until you see where the chickens they use come from… serious ick factor. I think I’ll stick with your version of chicken nuggets- they look a gajillion times better. And I’ll stick to eating my chicken skin crackly and piping hot on a roast chicken, thank you! 😉

          February 8, 2014
  9. I love cheese.. c

    February 7, 2014
    • I love it, too, Cecilia. I could probably write a sonnet about it if I had the energy (but eating so much cheese makes me sleeeeeepy.)

      February 7, 2014
  10. Cindy #

    Did I miss something? How much melted butter are we talking here?

    btw – love your writing style!

    February 7, 2014
    • Thank you so much, Cindy. You didn’t miss it– I forgot it! It’s 4 Tbsp. I edited the recipe to reflect that. THANK YOU for pointing that out!

      February 7, 2014
  11. Kind of like carrots being orange because they were bred that way in the Netherlands in the 17th century in honor of the Queen. Well, maybe it’s a little different from the tulip bulb bubble, and no cheese involved… Still, every time you eat a carrot you can think of the Queen of the Netherlands.

    February 7, 2014
    • Whaaaaaaat? I didn’t know that, Liene! So interesting.
      I cooked with purple carrots a few weeks ago. They released a purple dye that got over EVERYTHING. It turned everything purple, just like a beet! I’ll by the Queen’s own orange carrots from here on out.

      February 7, 2014
  12. looks great!

    February 7, 2014
    • Thank you for reading it, Burlap Kitchen!!

      February 13, 2014
  13. I actually knew about the tulip stuff!!! I don’t remember how (and didn’t even remember that I knew it until I read this post) but I definitely heard about it in some class at some random time. Now I sort of want to learn more about it. And totally agree that that guy was cah-razy. Tulips aren’t THAT great.

    These chicken fingers look like the exact sort of thing I want to eat during the week. Perfection!!!

    February 7, 2014
    • Mairsydoats #

      Read Michael Pollan’s The Botany of Desire. The Tulip Craze is only one quarter of the amazingness in that book. I think about something from that book just about every day.

      February 7, 2014
      • Thanks for the rec! I’ll definitely look into it 🙂

        February 7, 2014
        • I think I have that book lying around somewhere, ladies! I’ll reread the tulip part. I had completely forgotten about it.

          February 13, 2014
  14. Oh my goodness, what an adorable squishy faced napping crew that is!!!

    February 7, 2014
    • Thunder’s squish face is at its most adorable, I think, when it’s squished into blankets. It really highlights the squish effect, for some reason….

      February 13, 2014
      • I have the same problem. For Thunder, of course, it’s not a problem. On a grown woman, squish face is…down on the list of desirable traits??

        February 14, 2014
  15. Wow, not only is 1,000 lbs. of cheese not worth ANY NUMBER of tulips (in my opinion at least), but also 160 gallons of wine?!? Not to mention all that other stuff… Thanks for being so passionate about Gouda, so we can all remember what’s really important in life.

    I’ve still never once made anything involving breading and chicken (though I’ve enjoyed such things many times at restaurants). But I’ve been thinking about experimenting with this type of dredging/breading/baking of chicken a lot recently, mostly because I’ve been reading the Dinner: A Love Story cookbook, and then also because of the recent NYTimes website feature about preparing a whole meal on 2 baking sheets. But I have to say, of all the dredged/breaded/baked chicken recipes I’ve been mentally collecting lately, yours looks the best! Panko instead of regular bread crumbs? Sold. Cheese in there WITH the bread crumbs?! YES.

    Stay warm in the midwest winter. Having grown up there, let me be the millionth person to tell you that winters usually aren’t as bad as this one; it’s climate change craziness!

    February 7, 2014
    • So, after I read your note I went over to Dinner: A Love Story, which I haven’t read in a while but really enjoy, and did a little refresher. How do you like the cookbook so far, Allison? I didn’t see the NYT thing about the baking sheet dinners, but I’m going to look that up now!

      February 13, 2014
      • I loved the cookbook! I actually (gradually) read it cover to cover. Even despite the strong focus on cooking for kids/picky eaters, and all the pork/beef recipes– none of which apply to me in my day to day cooking– I still found plenty of weeknight cooking strategies and inspiration.

        Considering her success in the food (magazine) world, the writing was (mostly) really down to earth, and most of all utterly practical and useful (especially vs. some other cookbooks whose photos I enjoy gazing at longingly until I am way too hungry to actually cook any of their complicated recipes and then I settle for making something fast and easy instead…). Actually I was reading the DALS cookbook on my old black & white kindle, so I basically just ignored the photos!

        February 16, 2014
  16. jenny_o #

    Awww … that is the cutest picture. Were they both actually asleep or are they just great actors? 🙂

    February 7, 2014
    • They actually were asleep, isn’t that cool? I tiptoed in and tried to be as quiet as possible, but I woke them up with all the picture taking. They grumbled a little but then fell asleep again for maximum cute effect.

      February 13, 2014
  17. Hey Katherine! I enjoy your storytelling and different combination of ingredients that make up this dish. I’m intrigued. I’m inspired by you.

    February 8, 2014
    • Rhema, what a kind note you left. Thank you so much. I’m humbled. But hey, isn’t it fun, being inspired by things?!? This morning I was inspired by the way the sunlight came through a piece of swiss chard that I was washing. I probably stared at it for a full two minutes. Aaaaaanyhoo, have a great weekend!

      February 13, 2014
  18. That shot of Thunder and Scott… well.. the snoring must have been musical.
    I must say, the only thing I miss once in a while as a vegan is cheese. But when I sneak a little cheddar my gut rebels. Oh, well. I can look at the pretty pictures.

    February 8, 2014
    • Their snoring was. . . aggressive, I’ll give you that, Sandy Sue! 🙂

      February 13, 2014
  19. Love that last picture;) And I agree–cheese decisions at my house need my prior approval!

    February 8, 2014
    • Over here, cheese decisions regarding havarti are subject to an even higher standard. I need at least 24-hours advance notice of any intent (by someone else) to eat it…

      February 13, 2014
      • Mmm. That’s how I feel about Gorgonzola….

        February 13, 2014
  20. I’d exchange a 1000 tulips for a cheese, the other way round is just wrong!!
    I hope the cheese gets you through that winter!

    February 8, 2014
  21. Okay, I’m a cheese lover to so your chicken fingers would be winners in my book. But how have you overlooked the blatant skinnyism of that deal? Only fat pigs and fat sheep and fat oxen will do? Harrumph. I submit that the skinny ones are probably just a lovely for scratching behind the ears.

    February 8, 2014
    • You make a good point. In fact, I venture to say that the skinnier the animals, the more unhappy they are! And therefore more in need of a scratch behind the ears. I revise my prior statement!

      February 8, 2014
  22. Your story just goes to show that worth is in the eye of the person coveting the item in question! Your chicken fingers sound so good, but I couldn’t in a million years imagine my kids, in their childhood pasts or even today, dipping them in Dijon mustard. Definitely it would be mild sauce around here!

    BTW, your neighbourhood looks remarkably like mine. Snow piled everywhere and the street getting narrower by the day. I am so ready for warmth!

    February 8, 2014
    • I’m probably alone in my love for Dijon mustard. They didn’t carry it at the grocery store I used to go to in Alabama so I talked to the manager and he ordered it for me. I don’t think I let the store down–I was constantly going back for more! Good luck managing the winter where you are, my friend. Just a few more months. . .

      February 13, 2014
  23. Thank you for having a baked recipe. Ditch the mayo!!!.

    February 8, 2014
    • I generally hate mayo (especially in sandwiches) so I agree with your sentiment!

      February 13, 2014
  24. Great story. Beautiful dog!

    February 8, 2014
    • Thanks, Cheri. She’s a trooper! Half English, half French bulldog.

      February 13, 2014
  25. You should read the novel ‘Tulip Fever.’ A whole book dedicated to Tulip mania!
    Recipe looks delicious!

    February 10, 2014
    • Thanks for the heads up, my friend. I did find myself clicking on (and reading most of) an academic paper I found on-line. I thought it was fascinating, so I think I’m up for reading the book, too!

      February 13, 2014
  26. Kristi #

    I love this recipe and plan to make this one night this week. I too cut out the tendon thing…really don’t like it either. Thanks for sharing!!! We ate excpect snow but nothing what you have up North!!!!

    February 10, 2014
    • Kristi, if you downloaded the printable version of the recipe, note that I left out “preheat the oven to 400 degrees” when I first posted it. I corrected it, but I wanted you to know in case you already printed it out. Hope you like it!

      February 13, 2014
  27. I don’t even know how to respond to this. If I knew someone who owned 1000 pounds of cheese, you better believe we’re gonna be best buds, because I love to munch on cheese. And, um, that’s a lot of wine too, so sign me up for that as well. Mmmm, so crunchy.

    February 11, 2014
    • Yeah, basically this guy was rocking a lot of quality products. I bet he had awesome parties (until, that is, he went bananas and threw it all away for a stupid flower. I bet his party friends were like, “DUDE. WHAT ARE YOU DOING.”)

      February 13, 2014
  28. Amy #

    Hehehe, I love this story. I so wish you could go back in time and meet that man (mainly so you could pet those wee sheep).
    I definitely want to make these chicken fingers because it would make Nate so so happy. I’m wondering tho, how do you keep them from being soggy? The couple experiences I’ve had with baking chicken fingers, one side always stays soggy and the breading falls off 😦

    February 20, 2014
  29. looks very tasty ! found you by accident – fun read thanks

    February 22, 2014

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