Saturday, March 6, 2010

Chicken a la Niki

The original recipe that this variation is based off of came from a book called Clueless in the Kitchen: A Cookbook for Teens and Other Beginners. My mom gave it to me when I was 22. We crossed out the word "Teens" and wrote "Niki" above it to make me feel better about my kitchen ineptitude. Because I never had the right ingredients on hand, I kept messing with the recipe until I found the perfect combination loved and adored by my husband.

I say that the seasonings are "to taste" because I just keep adding a pinch at a time until it tastes yummy. (I know -- hard to believe I don't have my own cooking show!) When I didn't have olive oil, I used milk or a beaten egg. Once I found myself without Italian Seasoning, so I just threw in a little basil and rosemary. Instead of saltines, I have used store bought "bread crumbs", Ritz Crackers (regular and whole wheat), and other random crackers I had stuck in the back of the pantry. Be creative and use whatever stale crackery-type objects you have floating around in the disaster-you-used-to-call-a-pantry-that-your-toddler-just-helpfully-rearranged-for-you.


One package chicken tenders
One sleeve of saltine crackers
Seasoned salt (to taste)
Italian Seasoning (to taste)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Spread some aluminum foil onto a cookie/baking sheet. If you have some of those nifty metal cooling racks, put them on top of the aluminum foil. If not, don't worry about it.
  3. Crush the saltine crackers into smithereens and pour them into a bowl. Mix in a couple of pinches of the seasoned salt and Italian Seasoning, then taste it. Not salty enough? Add some more seasoned salt. Can't taste the Italian Seasoning? Add some more. See how easy this is?
  4. Pour the olive oil into a bowl. Dip a chicken tender in it, then roll the tender in the breading mix. Plop the little guy onto the cookie sheet (and on the cooling rack if you have it) and repeat the process until you run out of tenders. Sprinkle the leftover breading on the tenders.
  5. Pop the cookie sheet into the oven and set the timer for 15 minutes. (If you don't have the cooling racks and are baking the chicken directly on the aluminum foil, then set the timer for 8 minutes. When the timer rings, flip over the tenders, and set it again for 7 minutes.) Take out a tender and cut it open to make sure its done. As far as I can tell, there's no way to reliably check the temperature of such a thin cut of chicken, so I don't even bother to try.
It's good to dip the tenders in spaghetti sauce. I like making a side of pasta with some jarred spaghetti sauce. A few times, I added grated parmesan cheese into the breading mix and it was pretty good.

I actually made this for dinner tonight using cornflake crumbs (they sell these in a box!!), and they were terrific. We sliced them up and wrapped them in tortillas with shredded lettuce, cheese, and ranch dressing. Better than a Sonic chicken wrap!

This recipe makes enough for two super hungry adults who tend to overeat, but if you make pasta and a salad to go with it then you will probably have some leftovers. Double the recipe if you are having guests.

Oh yeah, and here's Charlotte (almost two years old) getting ready to cut out some SERIOUS Christmas cookies. Yes, she's not making Chicken a la Niki just yet, but I have high hopes for the future.


  1. DAMN! I love Chicken a la Niki! I prefer saltines. Those cornflake things in a box are terrible. TERRIBLE.

    But saltines provide a nifty taste and texture . . .


  2. Um, he liked the cornflakes in the breading last night. He's just being obstinate.

  3. dude, this sounds AWESOME. I'm putting it on the menu this week!

  4. I need to try this too.....sounds good and it even sounds like something I could get my kids to eat!

  5. I was being polite about the cornflakes last night.