There's a reason why some foods are childhood favorites: They're delicious, if somewhat lacking in sophistication (and nutrition). Having kids has prompted me to revisit the dishes of my youth — like fish sticks, scrambled eggs, and fruit leather — with varied results.
The most victorious of such ventures is this chicken fingers recipe, with almond meal breading and yogurt-herb dip. It gives a nod to nostalgia while incorporating some of the ingredients and flavors of my modern kitchen.
Use Almond Meal to Coat Chicken
The most significant update to the chicken fingers of my childhood is replacing the bread crumb coating with almond meal. It's a simple way to increase both nutrition and flavor.
The yogurt-herb dip that accompanies the chicken fingers also doubles as a replacement for the flour and egg in the "dry, wet, dry" process. So, instead of dipping the chicken in flour, then egg, then the almond meal, I toss all the chicken pieces with some of the yogurt-herb dip before dipping each "finger" in the almond meal. It's faster, with less cleanup, and once again more flavorful.
The real reason I consider these such a success isn't so much because I love them (although I do), but because my kids seem to enjoy them just as much as I enjoyed chicken fingers as a child.
Almond-Crusted Chicken Fingers with Yogurt-Herb Dip
1 cup plain whole-milk Greek yogurt
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup finely chopped fresh soft herbs, such as parsley, dill, tarragon, or cilantro
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided, plus more for finishing
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 3/4 pounds total)
1 1/3 cups almond meal
Butter and olive oil, for pan frying
Stir the yogurt, mayonnaise, herbs, and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt together in a small bowl. Transfer 1/3 cup of the yogurt-herb dip to a large bowl and reserve the rest for serving.
Cut the chicken crosswise into 1-inch-wide strips and season with 1/4 teaspoon of the salt. Add the chicken to the large bowl with the yogurt-herb dip and stir to evenly coat.
Have a large plate or baking sheet ready. Place the almond meal in a medium shallow bowl. Working with one piece of chicken at a time, place in the almond meal, turn to evenly coat, and place on the plate or baking sheet.
Place a couple tablespoons each butter and olive oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat, enough to coat the pan. Once the butter is melted and bubbling, add a single layer of the chicken (do not crowd the pan). Fry until the chicken is cooked through and the almond meal coating is deeply golden-brown, about 4 minutes per side. Place on a paper towel-lined plate and sprinkle with salt.
Add another tablespoon each butter and olive oil to the pan and repeat until all the chicken is cooked. Serve warm with the yogurt-herb dip.
- Almond meal: Use almond meal in this recipe, not almond flour, which is finer in texture.
- Storage: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Reheat in a 325°F oven until warmed through, 10 to 15 minutes.