The Incompetent Chef: Panko Crusted Chicken

I don't really watch cooking shows. I can't eat the food, and I can't smell the food, and I usually can't cook the food so I'm usually just left really, really hungry, my hopes impossibly raised as I crawl to my fridge and eat leftover poached chicken. The only time I even see cooking shows is at the gym (holla atcha Lucille Roberts!), which I always thought was a weird thing to play in a gym. I do like those crazy cake shows, but those might as well be called edible sculpture shows. Besides, baking is way more fun than cooking being a) cheaper, b) having a high effort/tastiness ratio.*

But, I do technically have to eat and I do now have a captive audience (hi! That's you!), so, here's my first attempt at hosting my own virtual cooking show, "The Incompetent Chef." I'll be pondering many things, like whether I should take pictures of my food and how I can type with chicken fat all over my hands. On the menu for tonight: Panko-crusted chicken.

I got this recipe from The New York Times' Recipes for Health series. They're not too hard and when I cook them I feel like I'm a grown up, except for when I make a recipe from their "For Kids" section. The recipes there sort of mask the healthy foods and simulate the unhealthy foods so as to trick kids into thinking, "Hey! This stuff is good, and good for me!" Sadly, despite a family that looooves them some fruit and vegetables, I'm still learning that life lesson. One of my favorite recipes from the section is Panko-crusted chicken (I think the only recipe in the whole series with no fruits or vegetables in it...), and that's what I'll be making tonight.


1 pound chicken tenders, cut in half if desired
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 eggs, beaten with 2 tablespoons cold water
2 cups panko
2 tablespoons canola oil or peanut oil

Season the chicken tenders with salt and pepper.
Put the flour in one shallow pie plate or baking dish, the egg mixture in another, and the panko in another.
One at a time, dredge the chicken tenders in flour to coat them lightly but evenly.
Tap to release excess flour, then dip in the egg mixture, and finally in the panko, turning and rolling the tenders to coat evenly.
This will not be messy if you use tongs, or use one hand for dipping into the dry ingredients and the other for dipping into the egg.
Make sure the tenders are evenly coated.
Shake off the excess crumbs.
Place on a baking sheet, and chill uncovered for 15 minutes or up to a day.
Heat a wide skillet over medium-high heat.
Add the oil.
When it is rippling hot, add the breaded tenders.
Turn the heat down to medium, and cook for four to five minutes on each side, until golden brown and crisp.
Cook in batches, if necessary, so that you don’t crowd the pan.
Watch carefully; the panko should not blacken, but the chicken tenders should be dark brown on each side.
Remove from the heat and serve.

5:40 - Let the liveblogging begin!
5:41 - I hate cooking without some music or TV in the background. The silent judginess of the blog is annoying. Liveblogging off to a poor start.
5:45 - chicken cut into tenders. I sprang for the fancy Perdue stuff and it's disappointingly stringy
5:48 - do people really measure out exactly 2 tablespoons of water for scrambling the eggs? That is lameface. Just go with it, man. Forget about the labels.
5:50 - ditto with the flour. Oh. My keyboard is now floury...
5:51 - mmm, panko. I hate sushi, but panko is nice. You can find them in big supermarkets. It took me about 8 minutes of staring at the Asian food shelves before I saw it.
5:55 - chicken goes in flour, egg, panko, repeat. Assembly line! Sometimes I sing a little song to pretend I'm on a real assembly line, maybe like making cars at GM except without the $13.4 million bailout.
5:59 - chicken is panko-ed and I have 15 minutes to clean up. And watch the Office!
6:06 - dishes washed. I hate washing dishes.
6:08 - I am eating Gruyere as a snack. Is this too much information?
6:10 - this is unrelated, but Pam on the phone telling Jim she failed design school as she fights back tears is so heart-wrenching
6:12 - also where Michael talks about how sad he is that Holly is gone.
6:15 - I can start frying now. There's a weird commercial on hulu where a little kid has cigarette burns all over him
6:18 - I don't really know what "rippling hot" means, but it sounds cool
6:20 - The recipe recommends using tongs. I couldn't agree more. Of the few things I've learned in my limited time in the kitchen, including a short stint as a short-order "cook" (more like short-order fryer-watcher), is that tongs are a-ma-zing. I have two.
6:22 - oh my gosh! also sad when Pam ditches on her dreams to come back to Jim. Why is the Office so heart-breaking?!?!
6:29 - ah! I'm getting burned by hot oil! Damn crockery!
6:32 - done! so good.

*Is that a high ratio or a low ratio? What I mean is all you do is mix powders with eggs and water and sweet deliciousness emerges. But I always get confused about ratios. I am not an economist, so I don't have to know these things. Dave is, so sometimes I ask him, but he's not here right now.

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