These family-friendly baked chicken fingers have long been in my dinner rotation and use a cheat method adopted from an out-of-print children’s cookbook. In place of the standard three-part breading process, the chicken breast brines in yogurt before coating in panko. A hot sheet pan slicked with oil produces a very moist and tasty baked chicken “tender” with less time and no stovetop splatters. (Mind you, no baked chicken fingers turn out as crackling crisp as pan-fried. But a liberal hand with the oil makes a big difference.) Be sure to use a sturdy sheet pan, since a lightweight type will warp at 450°F.
Note: Sweet potatoes contain a lot of moisture and take a while to brown, so I microwave them first (another cheat), then slice and smash them so that they crisp up like home fries. Choose the sweet potato variety with beige skin and cream-colored flesh instead of the orange variety for best browning.
medium pale-skinned sweet potatoes (about 1 pound)
Avocado oil or vegetable oil
sambal oelek chile sauce
In This Recipe
Whisk the yogurt, egg, dijon and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a mixing bowl until well blended. Slice each chicken breast at an angle into 1-inch-wide strips. Add them to the bowl and toss to coat them well. Let the chicken brine while you prepare the vegetables.
Stab the sweet potatoes in 2 to 3 places with a paring knife and microwave for 6 minutes until you can just slip a paring knife easily into them. Trim the ends and slice into rounds 1-inch thick.
Preheat the oven to 450°F with the rack in the upper third of the oven. Smear 1 tablespoon oil with your hands onto a large sheet pan. Space the sweet potato slices on one end of the sheet pan and turn once to coat them with oil, seasoning them with salt and pepper. Use the bottom of a cup to smash them lightly. Toss the broccolini very lightly with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and arrange on the other end of the baking sheet. Roast the sweet potato and broccolini for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, bread the chicken by placing the bread crumbs in a shallow bowl. Transfer 2 to 3 pieces of the chicken at a time into the bowl. Press to coat the breadcrumbs on all sides and transfer to a plate, then repeat with the remaining chicken pieces. Dispose of the yogurt mixture and any leftover breadcrumbs.
When the broccolini is browned and crisp-tender and the sweet potatoes are golden on one side, remove the sheet pan from the oven. Transfer the broccolini to a serving platter and cover to keep warm. Flip the sweet potatoes and crowd them onto one end of the sheet pan.
Spread about a tablespoon of oil onto the pan before arranging the breaded chicken on it. Drizzle with a little more oil on the chicken for the best browning. Bake the chicken until nicely browned underneath, 8 to 10 minutes.
To make the hot honey, warm the honey in a small bowl near the heat of the stove. Stir in the chile sauce and lemon juice with a pinch of salt.
Turn the chicken and check the potatoes. If they are well browned, transfer them to the serving plate and continue to bake the chicken until cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes more. Transfer the chicken and potatoes to the platter with the broccolini and serve the hot honey on the side or drizzled over the chicken and potatoes.