Monday, March 16, 2009

Comfort Food...All Grown Up

Last night we whipped together a great comfort food dinner, but thanks to the dairy and soy free diet restrictions we ended up classing things up a bit. On the menu....Fancy Chicken "Fingers" with Not-So-Poor Poor Man's Pasta. Sounds good, doesn't it?!?! HA!
As you may have already discovered, those easy store-bought Italian bread crumbs that made baked chicken so easy are packed full of dairy and soy, along with a host of other not-so-tastey additives. But never fear, there is an alternative that's even better...panko! Panko is the Japanese version of bread crumbs, and they have an extra nice crunch to them that you just don't get with run-of-the-mill breadcrumbs. You'll find panko next to said breadcrumbs in the grocery store.
Poor Man's Pasta is a great, fast recipe that my friend Emily shared with me. It's called Poor Man's Pasta because it calls for very few ingredients, of which you likely have in your pantry. The best thing about this recipe for the dairy and soy free diet is that it uses breadcrumbs instead of parmesan cheese, which ends up giving you the feeling that you're eating pasta with parmesan cheese, when of course you're not...and parmesan cheese is something I miss dearly. The reason my version is a not-so-poor Poor Man's Pasta is two-fold...1)I use panko, instead of basic breadcrumbs, and 2)I like to add fresh green beans or peas for a nice fresh crunch.
I apologize in advance for the lack of measurements for these recipes, but it truely does depend on how much you're making. Feel free to post comments if you have questions.
Grown Up Chicken Fingers
Skinless boneless chicken breasts
Panko breadcrumbs
Dry spice rub of your choice (I recommend Napa Style Toasted Spice Rub)
BBQ Sauce for dipping (I recommend Tom Douglas Redhook Brewery BBQ Sauce)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Put the chicken between plastic wrap and pound thin using a mallet or rolling pin (about 1/2 inch thick or less). The thinner the chicken, the fast it will bake. Cut the chicken into strips. In a small bowl, mix the panko with the spice rub. Don't skimp on the spices - you want some good flavor here. Press both sides of the chicken into the panko spice mix and place the coated chicken on a cookie sheet. Bake in the oven until the internal temperature of the chicken is 165 degrees and the coating is lightly browned. Serve with BBQ sauce for dipping.
Not-So-Poor Poor Man's Pasta
Spaghetti or linguini noodles
Fresh green beans or pea pods, cut in half
4-5 cloves of garlic, minced
Olive oil
Black pepper
Panko breadcrumbs
Blanche the green beans or pea pods in boiling water until just tender (about 2 min. for beans and 30 sec. for the peas). Set aside in some ice water to help keep their bright green color. Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Add the spaghetti and cook until al dente. While the pasta cooks, heat a small skillet over low/med. heat. Add several good "glugs" of olive oil (enough to coat the pasta). Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, being careful not to burn. Remove from heat. When the pasta is done cooking, drain and add back to the pot. Add the garlic and oil, and the beans or peas. Add a generous amount of panko breadcrumbs and several grinds of fresh black pepper. Serve with the chicken fingers.


  1. The panko bread crumbs I have contain soy.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. I just bought Ian's all natural italian style panko bread crumbs. Does not catain milk, casein, eggs, nuts or GMO. Soy is not listed as an ingedient. But the product is processed in a facility that manufactures products containing soy.

  2. Every panko package ingredients I ever read contain soy. The bread that the crumbs come from is made with soy flour. If anyone finds a brand that is different, I'd like to know about it. Thanks.

  3. So what im trying to find out is what is used in place of egg to bund the bread crumbs to the meat? My son has a dairy allergy so what is the substitute for the egg dredge?

    1. We never considered eggs to be a part of the dairy family