Stick it to me - Kid-friendly chicken
Filed under: Mealtime
Welcome to Dishing it Out, ParentDish's weekly food column. Katie Workman lives in New York City with her husband and two boys, Jack and Charlie. By day she is the Editor-in Chief of the soon-to-be launched recipe website, Cookstr.com. Her posts will appear on Tuesday mornings.
Why is it that food tastes so much better on a stick? If you were at a state fair and someone handed you a cornbread-encrusted hot dog on a plate with a fork and a knife, it wouldn't be all that appealing, right? But put it on a stick -- now it's a corn dog, and maybe the best thing you've eaten all week.
And so many great kid foods come on a stick: popsicles, cotton candy, lollipops. But of course the common denominator is that they're usually not the healthiest food moments of the day. But what if you could blend the fun of the stick with the food you really want your kids to eat?
For anyone trying desperately to break out of the frozen chicken nugget rut, chicken on a stick is a good way to make the transition to real chicken, and not a lot of work. Here are three versions: one is super-simple, one is a bit crunchier (and only involves the added ingredient of one measly egg), and the third is the "Mom, that's so cool!" showstopper: Chicken Parmesan on a Stick.This isn't exactly inventing the wheel. Cavemoms skewered hunks of primitive beasts on sticks for their children. But what I do know is that chicken on a skewer often gets eaten with fewer protests and more cheer than chicken NOT on a skewer.
Easy Chicken on a Stick ( or "Chicken Pops" if you're so inclined)
15 or so wooden skewers
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs, or chicken tenders
1 cup all-purpose flour
salt to taste
freshly ground pepper to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
Cut the chicken into 1-inch thick strips, if you are using pieces. Stir up the flour with salt and pepper in a shallow bowl. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.
Coat the chicken pieces in the flour mixture. Saute the chicken for about 3 minutes on each side, until lightly browned, and the chicken is cooked through.
Insert a skewer into each of the chicken pieces. Serve with dipping sauces if you want -- barbecue sauce, ketchup, mustard, whatever your kids like.
Crispy Chicken on a Stick version:
Lightly beat one egg in a separate bowl. After coating the chicken pieces with flour, dip them in the egg, then back into the flour to coat. Proceed exactly the same way as above.
Chicken Parmesan on a Stick version (pictured above):
Just before you begin, preheat the oven to 350° F., and put the skewers in water to cover, to prevent them from burning.
Make the Crispy version (cooking it for only 2 minutes perside), then insert a skewer into each piece, making sure it's secure. Place them on a baking sheet with a rim. Spoon a little bit of marinara or spaghetti sauce down the center of each piece. Sliver up some mozzarella (fresh mozzarella is really the clincher, if you have it), and arrange a few pieces on top of the sauce. Bake the skewered chicken for 4-5 minutes, until the cheese is melty.
And of course none of us want to see anyone get poked with a skewer. (I have horrible memories of the time my older son, Jack [now 8, then 2] ran into the wall while playing a plastic flute - a narrowly averted disaster). You have to use your judgment about when your kids are old enough to handle a pointed stick. It's definitely a good idea to have them seated at the table, and you can also try chopsticks, which are less pointy.
I just asked Jack why he likes this kind of chicken so much, and he looked at me as if I were a dope and said, "Mom, everything tastes better on a stick."
Right. Just checking. Soon, salad on a stick (seriously).
To sign up for Cookstr, launching soon, and see what Katie Workman does for her day job, please visit www.cookstr.com.
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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.