Pretzel-Crusted Chicken Fingers and Zucchini Sticks with Cheddar-Spicy Mustard Dipping Sauce
Rachael says, "The original recipe for Pretzel-Crusted Chicken, published in 365: No Repeats, remains one of the most popular in the literally thousands of meals I’ve written in the last decade. Here, it becomes a kid favorite, too, because I slice up the chicken breasts into the kid crowd pleaser: chicken fingers! I added zucchini sticks to the meal as well, swapped pretzels for whole wheat pretzels and cut back on the milk in the sauce by half and added chicken stock in its place."
- 1 bag whole grain pretzels, any shape
- 2 teaspoons dried thyme leaves or 2 tablespoons fresh chopped thyme
- 3 eggs
- 1/2 cup water
- 4 pieces boneless, skinless chicken breasts (6-8 ounces each)
- 2 medium zucchini
- Salt and pepper
- Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), for pan frying
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 1 cup milk
- 1 1/2-2 cups shredded sharp yellow cheddar cheese (a 10-12 ounce cut), grated
- 2 heaping tablespoons spicy brown mustard, such as Gulden’s brand
- 2 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch wide 4-inch long sticks
- 4 celery stalks, halved lengthwise and cut into 4-inch long sticks
- 8 dill pickle spears
- Pre-heat the oven to 250ºF.
- Place the pretzels in a food processor or blender and grind until fine. Transfer the ground pretzels to a shallow dish and season with thyme. Crack and beat three eggs with about 1/2 cup water in a second shallow dish.
- Slice each chicken breast into three long strips, cutting into the breast on an angle. You will yield 12 large chicken fingers.
- Cut the ends off the zucchini and cut each in half, into 4-inch lengths. Cut zucchini into sticks. Season the chicken and zucchini with salt and pepper. Coat the chicken breast and zucchini in the ground pretzels, then in egg, then in the pretzels again. Wash up.
- Once the chicken fingers are coated in pretzels, heat just enough EVOO to coat the bottom of a large nonstick skillet to medium to medium-high heat. Cook chicken in a single layer, in two batches if necessary, about three minutes on each side, until chicken juices run clear and breading is evenly browned. Drain chicken on paper towels, then transfer to keep warm in low oven. Repeat the same process with the zucchini, adding a little more EVOO if necessary.
- While the zucchini are browning, melt the butter in a medium saucepot over medium heat and and add flour to it. Cook the flour and butter for one minute, then whisk in the stock and milk. When the milk mixture comes to a bubble, stir in the cheese and mustard with a wooden spoon. Season with a little salt and freshly ground black pepper and remove cheese sauce from the heat.
- Serve chicken and zucchini sticks with ramekins of dipping sauce, carrot sticks, celery sticks and dill pickle spears on the side.