All grown up: Chicken fingers for adults - KATV - Breaking News, Weather and Razorback Sports

All grown up: Chicken fingers for adults

Updated: Sep 22, 2011 01:44 PM EDT
© Todd Coleman / Bonnier © Todd Coleman / Bonnier
  • RecipesMore>>

  • Edamame-Chicken Stir-Fry over Brown Rice, 7/29/14

    Edamame-Chicken Stir-Fry over Brown Rice, 7/29/14

    Tuesday, July 29 2014 8:00 AM EDT2014-07-29 12:00:36 GMT
    Keith Cleek Leigh Bullington2014 Arkansas Rice ExpoIngredients8 ounces of skinless, boneless chicken breast3 tablespoons of bottled hoisin sauce1 tablespoon of rice vinegar1 tablespoon of reduced-sodium soy sauce1/4 teaspoon of crushed red pepper3 teaspoons of olive oil or canola oil2 teaspoons of grated fresh ginger1 cup of bias-sliced carrots (2 medium)2 cups of broccoli florets1 cup of ready-to-eat fresh or frozen, thawed, shelled sweet soybeans (edamame)2 cups of cooked whole grain brown...More >>
    Keith Cleek Leigh Bullington2014 Arkansas Rice ExpoIngredients8 ounces of skinless, boneless chicken breast3 tablespoons of bottled hoisin sauce1 tablespoon of rice vinegar1 tablespoon of reduced-sodium soy sauce1/4 teaspoon of crushed red pepper3 teaspoons of olive oil or canola oil2 teaspoons of grated fresh ginger1 cup of bias-sliced carrots (2 medium)2 cups of broccoli florets1 cup of ready-to-eat fresh or frozen, thawed, shelled sweet soybeans (edamame)2 cups of cooked whole grain brown...More >>
  • Gluten Free, Reduced Carbohydrate Chocolate Cobbler, 7/24/14

    Gluten Free, Reduced Carbohydrate Chocolate Cobbler, 7/24/14

    Monday, July 28 2014 3:41 PM EDT2014-07-28 19:41:01 GMT
    Brandon Douglas: Gluten Free, Reduced Carbohydrate Chocolate CobblerMore >>
    Brandon Douglas: Gluten Free, Reduced Carbohydrate Chocolate Cobbler
    More >>
  • Ahi Tuna Wraps, 7/28/14

    Ahi Tuna Wraps, 7/28/14

    Monday, July 28 2014 11:55 AM EDT2014-07-28 15:55:57 GMT
    Ryan MarshTrio'sFor the marinade:1 c. pineapple juice1 c. soy sauce1/4 c. juice from pickled ginger1/2 c. rice wine vinegar1 T. sugarMix all marinade ingredients together in a medium bowl and set aside.For the Volcano Sauce:1 c. mayonnaise2 T. sesame oil3 T. Sriacha sauceMix all ingredients together and transfer to a squeeze bottle. Keep refrigerated until ready to use. To assemble:Ahi or other very fresh tuna, cut into 1/2-inch cubesRomaine or bibb lettuceWhole avocados, pitted and dicedPrep...More >>
    Ryan MarshTrio'sFor the marinade:1 c. pineapple juice1 c. soy sauce1/4 c. juice from pickled ginger1/2 c. rice wine vinegar1 T. sugarMix all marinade ingredients together in a medium bowl and set aside.For the Volcano Sauce:1 c. mayonnaise2 T. sesame oil3 T. Sriacha sauceMix all ingredients together and transfer to a squeeze bottle. Keep refrigerated until ready to use. To assemble:Ahi or other very fresh tuna, cut into 1/2-inch cubesRomaine or bibb lettuceWhole avocados, pitted and dicedPrep...More >>


By David Sax


Though upscale versions of childhood comfort foods—peanut butter and jelly, corn dogs, s'mores—have colonized restaurant menus, there's one glaring exception. Chicken fingers, the ubiquitous kids' entrée, get little respect.

Chicken fingers came about in the late 1970s, when American poultry processors began marketing the small, flat tender, or tenderloin, from the underside of the breast as a separate cut. A miniature breaded cutlet, the chicken finger—likely named for its shape, akin to human digits—became a popular way to use the new cut.

Paired with a sugary sauce (honey mustard, barbecue, sweet and sour), they proved to be the perfect utensil-free food for picky children, and by the mid-1980s, it seemed, there wasn't a kids' menu that didn't feature them—as tenders, or worse, as nuggets, made from artificially bonded meat trimmings. According to market research from the Mintel Group, chicken fingers were the third most popular item on American menus in 2010, behind steak and Caesar salad.

Still, as popular as chicken fingers are, the consensus among adult eaters was summed up a few years back by David Kamp, writing in the New York Times, when he lamented the "palate-deadening potential" of his kids' favorite food. Chicken fingers, it seemed, would never grow up.

But the generation gap is murkier than it appears. As I discovered recently at Mitzi's Restaurant, in downtown Winnipeg, Canada, a raging chicken finger fan is hiding below the surface of most adults. At this 33-year-old Chinese restaurant, the lunchtime lineup stretches out the door for homemade chicken fingers.

Added to the menu in 1988 by owner Peter Eng, who felt he could do better than the frozen ones his kids were eating, the 125 pounds of fingers served daily at Mitzi's (mitzi sounds like the Cantonese word for tasty) are made from scratch.

"Others grind [the meat] or mold it," says Shirley Eng, who, like her husband, hails from Hong Kong. "Ours is real chicken."

Fresh breasts are sliced into strips, then marinated overnight in salt, pepper, sugar, garlic, paprika, and other seasonings. Flour-dusted and dredged in an egg wash, the chicken is coated in breadcrumbs (ground loaves of supermarket white), and fried in canola oil.

Unlike the uniform fingers most places serve, Mitzi's are thin, short, and slightly gnarled by the fryer's heat. The breading is light and crisp, and the juicy flesh has just enough spicy, sweet flavor to enliven the chicken, which is best dipped in Mitzi's signature honey-dill sauce.

Peter Eng's rendition is so good that a food once irksome to him has turned out to be a boon for business. On Mitzi's predominantly Chinese menu, the non-Asian fingers stick out like a, well, sore thumb.

Still, says Shirley Eng, they make up 80 percent of Mitzi's business.


See Mitzi's Chicken Fingers recipe »
 

© 2012 SAVEUR
All rights reserved.
*DISCLAIMER*: The information contained in or provided through this site section is intended for general consumer understanding and education only and is not intended to be and is not a substitute for professional advice. Use of this site section and any information contained on or provided through this site section is at your own risk and any information contained on or provided through this site section is provided on an "as is" basis without any representations or warranties.