Chicken Fingers with General Tso’s Dipping Sauce

October 12, 2014

As a single father, you can be sure that I’ve made quite a few chicken nuggets (see here , here, here, here and here). But in my opinion, the biggest leap forward in chicken nugget evolution came a few years ago when I switched away from breading-based nuggets. I adapted this batter fried chicken recipe and used it to make batter-based nuggets; which has become my go to recipe. But a recent job change means that I simply cannot afford the requisite 1 hour and 15 minutes to make them (and be left with a pretty big mess in the kitchen) on a weeknight. Today’s recipe promises make-ahead convenience without sacrificing the crispness of the final chicken. I was skeptical, but was excited to give them a try. Unfortunately, the recipe yielded barely enough chicken for one meal, so I had nothing left-over (which I was intending to serve for dinner one night and use the left-overs as “make-ahead”). The chicken fingers are solid, 3-1/2 stars. Cooking with such a small amount of oil greatly simplifies clean up. There are a few minor issues (see comments below).

Easy to make and not much of a mess

Easy to make and not much of a mess


  1. While I love the idea of cooking with just 1/4-cup of oil per batch, it simply did not work in my kitchen. My Cook’s-Illustrated-recommended, 12-inch TFal skillet does not have a perfectly flat cooking surface (it’s raised slightly in the middle, pushing the oil to the sides).
  2. The recipe calls for a ridiculously small amount of chicken; just 1-1/2 pounds; enough for a single dinner. I’m not sure why they advertise this recipe as a make-ahead time-saver. I suggest doubling the recipe (The brine is already enough to accommodate 3 pounds of chicken fingers. Increase Panko from to 3 cups. Use 3 eggs; maybe 4).
  3. While the original recipe calls for 2 cups of Panko, there was a lot of leftover. I’ve reduced the amount in the recipe to 1-1/2 cups.
  4. The original recipe called for 3 eggs, but I’ve reduced the recipe to use 2 eggs.

So many Dipping Sauces……

  1. I’ve previously made General Tso’s Chicken. While that recipe wasn’t a perfect replicate of classic General Tso, it was delicious nevertheless. Chris Kimball has finally come out with a General Tso’s recipe, which was the basis from which I adapted it for use as a dipping sauce. My adaptation is at the bottom of this post.
  2. A classic and simple BBQ Dipping Sauce Recipe is here. But it yields more sauce than I usually need, so I would recommend cutting the recipe in half.
  3. I made a delicious Hoisin Sesame Dipping Sauce.
  4. Another sweeter Sweet and Sour Dipping Sauce is here. I thought that this sauce was disproportionately sweet (which was okay with my kids).
  5. A spicier version is Spicy Sweet and Sour Dipping Sauce. I loved the fresh lime juice in this sauce.
  6. Spicy Orange Dipping Sauce. But beware, the recipe uses a habanero chile, so it was pretty hot.
  7. Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce. Chris Kimball have a basic recipe using only honey and mustard. However, the recipe yields a cup; probably need to use down by at least 50%.
  8. Spicy Jamaican Jerk Dipping Sauce. The recipe yields a lot of sauce. Start by cutting the recipe in half.

Storing and Reheating……

  1. Transfer cooled chicken fingers to zipper-lock freezer bags, press out air, and seal. Freeze for up to 1 month.
  2. Do not thaw before reheating.) Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Place chicken fingers on wire rack set in rimmed baking sheet and bake until heated through and crisp, about 30 minutes, flipping chicken halfway through baking. Serve.
  3. To cook, simply heat the oven to 350 degrees, and bake them until they’re heated through and crisp, about 30 minutes, flipping the chicken halfway through cooking.

Rating: 3-1/2 stars.
Cost: $4.50.
How much work? Low.
How big of a mess?  Low/Medium.
Start time 4:45 PM. Dinner time 5:00 PM.

The Cook’s Illustrated original recipe is here. and was published by CNN here. The General Tso’s Chicken recipe from which I adapted the sauce is here. The recipe as I cooked it today is as follows:

Chicken Fingers Recipe:
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1-1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
2 large eggs
1-1/2 cups panko bread crumbs
3/4 cup vegetable oil

  1. Trim chicken and cut lengthwise into 3/4″-wide strips.
  2. In a large bowl, add 2 cups of cold water and dissolve 1 tablespoon of salt. Add chicken fingers to brine, ensure that they are entirely submerged, cover with [plastic wrap and refrigerator for 30 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, toast the 2 cups of Panko in a 12″ nonstick skillet over medium heat, swirling constantly so that it brown evenly.
  4. Also, prepare 3 shallow dishes as follows: (1) add flour, onion powder, garlic powder, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 3/4 teaspoon pepper to a pie plate is whisk until combined. (2) lightly beat 3 large eggs, and (3) spread the toasted panko into a third pie plate.
  5. When chicken has finished brining, discard the brine and pat chicken dry using paper towels.
  6. Working in batches, dredge chicken in flour mixture, dip in eggs, then coat with panko, pressing gently to adhere; transfer to large plate.
  7. Put a wire rack set inside a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet.
  8. Wipe of skillet and pre-heat 1/4 cup oil over medium burner until it begins to shimmer. Cook one-third of chicken in skillet for 3 minutes per side until it turns golden brown. Be sure to check the temperature of the larger pieces, as a few of mine didn’t cook to 165-degrees. Transfer to prepared wire rack and they become ready.
  9. Wipe out skillet and repeat shallow frying the remaining batches. Serve immediately and allow the chicken cool for 30 minutes before freezing.

General Tso’s Dipping Sauce Recipe:
3 tablespoons water
3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
1-1/2 tablespoons white vinegar
1 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoons sugar (or I suggest substituting 2 tablespoons apricot or orange jam)
1 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

  1. Combine water, hoisin sauce, vinegar, soy sauce, sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl and stir with a fork until cornstarch is dissolved and no lumps remain. Set aside.
  2. Add oil to a small saucepan. Saute garlic, ginger and red pepper flakes for 1 minute. Add the hoisin mixture, making sure to scrape out and sugar or starch that has sunk to the bottom. Cook, stirring, until sauce boils and thickens, about 1 minute. Transfer sauce to a dipping bowl and serve.

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