When my sister and I were growing up, on the busy weeknight nights that our parents were working at their restaurants we often got to sleepover at our Grandma's house for the night. Every time we went over, we were always greeted with appetizers set out when we got there, one of our favorite movies on queue, our favorite dessert treats in the fridge, and a deck of cards on the coffee table ready to play our favorite game after dinner, which was always delicious. Some of my Grandma's go-tos back then were our favorite teriyaki pork tenderloin, enchilada pie, and ritz chicken.
So at first thought, "ritz chicken" may sound boring. But let me reassure you, it was anything but! Something about the buttery ritz flavor baking into the chicken created the best lip-smacking tenders which tasted as good as a fried chicken finger, but way less heavy. Which brings me to these babies! Crunchy, buttery tenders that are the perfect satisfying and fun-to-eat weeknight dinner we all crave.
Due to my sister and I's apparent obsession at the time with caesar dressing, my Grandma eventually took to coating the chicken tenders in ranch prior to dredging them through the crushed ritz. This added a little extra flavor and I think helped to keep the chicken moist. For this recipe, you'll combine a little greek yogurt with some dijon mustard, and you've got the perfect coating. Healthy and simple! Mix up your crushed ritz, a little parmesan, and some thyme, and you've go the perfect "breadcrumb" mix that is made for the little bit of dijon flavor in the coating.
Right after lightly coating each tender in the greek yogurt dijon mix, you'll gently dredge each tender through the ritz mixture. I find it helpful to dredge each piece through, then take a scoopful of the ritz mixture with your hand and lightly press it onto each tender to ensure it's evenly coated. The more ritz the merrier here! Lay the tenders on a cookie sheet and drizzle with a bit of olive oil to give the ritz a little crisp. Pop those in the oven and get excited for the cheesy, buttery ritz-aroma that's about to fill your kitchen!
Meanwhile, toss some arugula with olive oil, lemon juice, parmesan, and some black pepper, and you've got the perfect little side salad. When I have any type of "breaded" chicken, two musts for me are some greens and lemon. The lemon always brightens it up, and the greens (especially arugula) add that extra kick.
I also firmly believe that any chicken-fingeresque dinner should have a delicious dipping sauce on hand. The usually suspects of ketchup or ranch are elevated in this case with a simple lemon aioli. Combine a little mayo, lemon juice, olive oil and some spices, and you've got a homemade aioli-like dipping sauce that will go perfectly with the ritz tenders.
In the last minute of baking the chicken, turn the broiler on and pull up a chair to the oven window! Watch extra closely and take the chicken out once the ritz crumb is lightly golden.
Top tenders with extra thyme and Maldon, pile up some of the lemony arugula onto your plate or as a side salad, and enjoy each buttery, ritzy dunk!
Satisfying ritz baked chicken fingers with a healthy twist, complete with extra delicious flavors like dijon mustard, thyme and lemon.
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