I don’t know about you all, but we’re still making our way through some hot weather here in Southern California—whew-wee! Can we please be done with this?
Where’s the cool fall?
Where are the temperatures that beckon for me to wrap myself in a comfy-cozy blanky, or throw on a jacket or sweater when I go out in the evening?
They seem to be hiding at the present moment, that’s for sure.
So it makes it just a wee-bit less appealing to turn on an oven for the time being (only a wee-bit less, mind you), but you know what? I’m not going to let it stop me. Especially if it’s for a quick 20-or-so minutes, and what comes out of said oven is a healthier, guilt-free twist on some snacky-comfort food that I’m gonna love popping into my mouth!
(Truth is, I’ve never been one to let outdoor temps dictate my cravings, anyway; why start now?)
We love crispy chicken tenders or chicken fingers in our household, as they’re just such a simple little pleasure.
Typically, we like to fry our strips, like we did with this out-of-this-world recipe for Coconut-Crunch Chicken Strips with Honey-Mango Dipping Sauce, or these Crispy Chicken Stix with 3 Dipping Sauces.
But this time, I wanted some “poppers” that I didn’t have to heat oil for, and so this recipe for Crispy-Baked Garlic “Popcorn” Chicken with Parmesan-Ranch Dipping sauce seemed like just the ticket!
A savory and flavorful outer crispy crust surrounding juicy and garlic-marinated bite-sized pieces of chicken is what I was after, along with a creamy and zippy sauce to plunge them into—ideal for big and little fingers, alike.
And since they’re not fried, doesn’t that automatically mean we can eat more?!
(Well, doesn’t it?)
Hey, hot weather: you’ve never stopped me from flippin’ on my oven before, and you’re certainly not gonna stop me now.
Looks like it’s time for me to pop up some “popcorn” chicken, in that case!
Taste what’s good and pass it on.
Crunchy-Baked Garlic “Popcorn” Chicken with Creamy Parmesan-Ranch Dipping Sauce
by Ingrid Beer
Yield: Serves 2-4
• 1 pound chicken tenderloins (or skinless and boneless chicken breasts), cut into tiny bite-size pieces
• 2 cloves garlic, pressed through garlic press
• ½ teaspoon salt, divided use
• ¼ teaspoon, plus a pinch, black pepper, divided use
• ½ cup flour
• 2 ½ cups corn flakes
• 2 tablespoons grated parmesan
• ¼ teaspoon paprika
• ¼ teaspoon granulated garlic
• ¼ cup buttermilk
• Cooking oil spray
• Creamy Parmesan-Ranch Dipping Sauce (recipe below)
-Preheat your oven to 400°, and line a baking sheet with foil.
-Add the diced chicken pieces into a medium-size bowl, and add to it the garlic, ¼ teaspoon of the salt, and pinch of black pepper; toss together to combine, and marinate the chicken while you prep the rest of the ingredients.
-Add your flour to a large ziplock bag, and set aside.
-Add the cornflakes, parmesan, paprika, ¼ teaspoon of salt, ¼ teaspoon of black pepper and granulated garlic to the bowl of a food processor, and process just until a fine crumble (not too fine and powdery, but not too chunky); add that mixture to another large ziplock bag, and set aside for a moment.
-Add your chicken pieces to the bag with the flour, and shake to coat the pieces well.
-Place the flour-coated pieces into a medium-size bowl, and drizzle over them the buttermilk; using your fingers, mix the buttermilk gently into the chicken, just to coat it.
-Take the buttermilk-coated chicken pieces and add them to the ziplock with the corn flake mixture, and shake to coat the pieces well.
-Place each piece of coated chicken onto the foil-lined baking sheet in a single layer, give them a light misting of the cooking oil spray, and bake for 20 minutes; then, turn on your broiler, and allow the popcorn chicken to become extra crunchy by broiling for 2 minutes more.
-Serve warm with the Creamy Parmesan-Ranch Dipping Sauce.
Creamy Parmesan-Ranch Dipping Sauce Ingredients:
• 1 cup sour cream
• ¼ cup mayonnaise
• 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
• 1 clove garlic
• Zest of 1 lemon
• 2 teaspoons lemon juice
• ½ teaspoon black pepper
• ¼ teaspoon, plus a pinch, salt
• 2 tablespoons roughly chopped chives
-Add all ingredients to the bowl of your food processor, and process until completely smooth and blended; serve immediately, or keep covered in fridge until ready to serve.