There are few better crowd pleasers than chicken fingers; especially for children. The problem is they are usually fried (read: high cal) and if they aren’t, they are often bland or soggy. This recipe is the remedy for both of these problems. I swear these are some of the best baked chicken fingers I have ever made. The original recipe has layers of flavors which is what caught my attention, but they were supposed to be fried, so I took a page out of my mom’s book and baked them like she did when we were kids. The addition of the orange makes these a bit more appealing to grownups than the generic versions that kids love. Not to mention the sauce was amazing! Of course, the original recipe called for blood orange, but I couldn’t find any so I substituted regular orange. I do think the blood orange would add really beautiful color. This one is definitely worth the effort! You could even make them as an appetizer.
Baked Crispy Chicken Fingers with Orange Sweet and Sour Sauce
Inspired by Everday Exotic: Blood Orange chef Roger Mooking
Blood Orange Rub:
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (6 ounces each), cut into strips
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1/2 tablespoon ground black pepper
2 teaspoons fennel seeds, ground in a mortar and pestle
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
*Zest* of 1 blood orange, chopped
Crispy Chicken Fingers:
Vegetable oil spray
1 cup flour, seasoned with salt and pepper
2 eggs, whisked
2 1/2 cups breadcrumbs (use good fresh bread)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Sweet and Sour Blood Orange Sauce:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 red onion, diced
1 cup honey
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
*Zest* of 2 oranges
4 blood oranges, peeled and roughly chopped
1 cinnamon stick
1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 2 tablespoons cold water
8 fresh basil leaves, julienned
For the blood orange rub: Place chicken pieces in a large dish and add the garlic powder, pepper, ground fennel, olive oil and orange *zest*. Coat the chicken with the rub and place in the fridge for 30 minutes.
For the crispy chicken fingers: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking tray with foil and spray lightly with vegetable oil spray. Place the flour, whisked eggs and breadcrumbs into individual dishes.
Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper. Dredge the chicken in the flour, followed by the eggs and then the breadcrumbs. Place the breaded chicken on the prepared baking tray leaving a little space between each piece.
Spray the tops of the chicken fingers with cooking spray. Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden and cooked through rotating the tray halfway through.
For the sweet and sour blood orange sauce: Heat the olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Add the red onions and sweat until tender and translucent. Mix the honey, red wine vinegar and 1/2 cup water in a bowl. Add to the saute pan and stir.
Add the orange *zest*, blood orange pieces and cinnamon stick.
Season with salt and pepper, stir and cook until the mixture has reduced by half. Strain the mixture through a sieve into a new pot over medium heat making sure to get as much liquid through as possible.
Bring to a simmer and then remove from the heat. Continue to cook over very low heat for 3 to 5 minutes. Place the pot back over medium heat, add the cornstarch mixture and bring to a simmer to cook the cornstarch out, 3 to 5 minutes.
Remove from the heat and stir in the basil.
Serve alongside the chicken fingers and enjoy!!