Dill Pickle Chicken Fingers with Ranch Yogurt Dip

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Since the pubs closed about 8 million years ago, Bae and I have been trying our best to create at-home pub nights whenever possible. We try to have a variety of our favorite beers on hand and together we devise a pub-ish menu. One night it might be nachos, while another could be burgers. Fish and chips have made an appearance and so have homemade potato chips. But thus far, our favorite at-home pub creation has to be these Dill Pickle Chicken Fingers with Ranch Yogurt Dip. They hit the spot like no other and I have to say, they may be the best chicken fingers I’ve ever had.

Adding Pickle Brine to the chicken marinade

Vehicles for Ketchup

As the lockdown soldiers on and restaurants remain shuttered, my cravings for food I didn’t make myself rage on. And the longer I go without a restaurant visit, the trashier my cravings become. Remember a month ago when I said I was missing the cassoulet from my favorite French restaurant? Yeah, those days are gone. Now I find myself fixating on french fries, onion rings, and yes, even chicken fingers. Basically, if it can be smothered in ketchup I want to hear about it.

Ranch yogurt dip

The Pub’s the Thing

Yes, I know you can get all of these things via takeout, but they’re just not the same. They steam in their containers while they make their way to your home. The batter gets soggy and sad and makes them barely worth the calories they contain. Plus, these are the foods I associate with a loud, boisterous pub. Places of laidback fun, packed to the gills with old friends, “casual” first dates, and cover bands of varying degrees of mediocrity. A pub has a vibe and that vibe can not be packed into a takeaway box.

Dredging the chicken fingers

But I suppose I should get used to missing that. Even as Toronto begins to open up, I’d say we’re still a long way off from drunkenly draping ourselves on our friends over a couple of beers and a communal plate of nachos. And while I can’t have my friends simply pop into mine for a cheeky pint, I can at the very least make my own damn chicken fingers. And I can make them as boujee as I want.

Dill Pickle Chicken Fingers

Dill Pickle Chicken Fingers

These Dill Pickle Chicken Fingers are more akin to a gastropub offering. They’re a prime example of the high/low snackage that has become obnoxiously prevalent these days. But you know what? I don’t much care how on-trend these are. I like to make food I want to eat and I don’t think much past that. So, forgive my fancy version of chicken fingers. They had no choice and I have no shame. And for the record, I have a deep appreciation for Wendy’s Homestyle Chicken Strips, which I think are no longer available? But the fact remains, I haven’t forgotten where I come from.

Dill Pickle Chicken Fingers

Now, like all good fried chicken parts, these fingers start with a brine. And this particular brine came, in part, from a pickle jar. Yes, a splash of pickle juice will do ya. I was without buttermilk so I subbed in full-fat yogurt, added a couple of dashes of a buffalo-style hot sauce, and finish with a clove of minced raw garlic. If you’re sensitive to the bite of raw garlic, you can saute it first and then add it. I mixed the whole mess up with the chicken and let it sit for a while. And in return for my patience, I was gifted juicy chicken with a hint of dilly, vinegary deliciousness.

Dill Pickle Chicken Fingers

Okay, so let’s talk dredging. I subscribe to the double-dredge method. This involves taking the chicken out of its brine, dredging it before returning it to its brine then dredging it again. The result is a delightfully crisp, craggy surface that provides an extreme contrast between the crunchy exterior and tender interior. The uneven surface also holds onto dip like a dream.

Dill Pickle Chicken Fingers with Ranch Yogurt Dip

Ranch Yogurt Dip

And speaking of dip, let’s talk about this Ranch Yogurt Dip. This dip boasts all the usuals you’d find in a pack of ranch seasoning. Sometimes it feels good to go classic. I did opt for freshly grated parm in place of the partially dehydrated stuff, which did elevate the final dip. But other than that, it tastes just like a good old fashioned ranch dip. It is perhaps a little tangier and lighter than the mayo/sour cream concoctions but it certainly doesn’t read as lacking in any way.

So that’s pretty much everything you need to know about these Dill Pickle Chicken Fingers. They’re fairly straight forward, a teeny bit refined and all the way good. Pair with your favorite beer and a side of classic rock.

Enjoy!

Dill Pickle Chicken Fingers with Ranch Yogurt Dip

These Dill Pickle Chicken Fingers feature tender strips of chicken marinated in dill pickle brine, yogurt, and hot sauce double breaded and fried to golden perfection. Served alongside a pot of Ranch Yogurt Dip, these fingers bring the pub home.
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Brining Time 3 hrs
Course Appetizer, Snack
Cuisine American
Servings 2

Equipment

  • Candy Thermometer
  • Large Cast Iron Skillet

Ingredients
  

Ranch Yogurt Dip

  • 2 tsp dried parsley
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • ½ tsp dried dill weed
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp Aleppo pepper flakes or Cayenne
  • 1 cup full-fat yogurt
  • ½ lemon juiced
  • ¼ cup parmesan cheese finely shredded

Dill Pickle Chicken Fingers

  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • ½ cup dill pickle brine
  • ½ cup full-fat yogurt
  • ¼ cup buffalo-style hot sauce I used Frank's
  • 1 ½ tsp kosher salt divided
  • fresh ground pepper divided
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 cup neutral oil I used canola
  • Dried parsley for sprinkling
  • Aleppo pepper flakes for sprinkling

Instructions
 

Ranch Yogurt Dip

  • Place the spices in a small bowl and whisk to combine. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl place the yogurt and pour in the lemon juice. Add the spice mixture and stir to combine. Fold in the parmesan cheese and cover. Chill until ready to serve.

Dill Pickle Chicken Fingers

  • Remove the tenders from the underside of the chicken breasts and place them in a large bowl. Slice the remaining chicken into strips and place them in the bowl as well. Add the garlic, pickle brine, yogurt, hot sauce, ½ a teaspoon of the salt, and fresh ground pepper. Using a clean hand, toss to coat the chicken and evenly disperse the ingredients. Cover the bowl and transfer to the fridge. Let marinate for 3 hours or overnight.
  • Once the chicken has marinated, place the flour, baking powder, and the remaining salt in a large bowl. Add a fair amount of fresh ground pepper and whisk to combine. Set aside.
  • Take a chicken strip out of its marinade and toss it in the flour mixture. Return the finger to the marinade and toss again. It doesn't have to be fully coated just sticky. Place the finger once again in the flour mixture and toss to coat. Transfer the finger to a cooling rack placed inside a baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining chicken strips.
  • Pour the oil into a large cast-iron skillet. Heat the oil until it reaches 350°F. Try to keep the oil within 25° on either side of that temperature by adjusting the heat throughout the frying process.
  • Working in batches, add the chicken fingers to the oil. Fry until golden on one side, then flip, this should take about 3-4 minutes per side. Once the fingers are golden transfer them back to the cooling rack. Sprinkle immediately with a little salt, dried parsley flakes, and Aleppo pepper flakes. Keep the fingers warm in a 150°F oven while you finish frying the fingers.
  • Arrange the fingers on a platter and serve with pickle spears and a bowl of the Ranch Yogurt Dip. Serve immediately with cold beers.
Keyword dill pickle, fried chicken, ranch

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