Welcome to Cooking Skool, a four-week series designed for young cooks. Each week serves up three themed recipes and how-to videos. Your kitchen guide is LNP | LancasterOnline food writer Kim O’Donnel, who walks you through every step of the way. Together, we’ll try new things, get creative and learn some math, science and history in between. Belly up to the counter and join us for our kitchen adventure!

In this third week of our series, we are taking things to a new level; we are making dinner. For many of us, dinner is the main meal of the day, when we gather as a family to talk about the day and refuel after work or school.

You may notice that some of this week’s recipes involve a few more steps. We are building upon our one-pot-and-pan skills and taking on maybe two pans and learning some new techniques. None of it is difficult, but maybe this week, you grab a partner to join you in the kitchen. After all, two sets of hands are more fun and gets dinner on the table in a flash.

On this week's menu: Homemade chicken strips, beans and rice and zucchini boats.

If you ever wondered how you can re-create chicken strips from your favorite fast food restaurant or the ones in the frozen aisle, here is the inside scoop on making them at home.

Kool Tidbits

  • Also known as fingers and nuggets, chicken strips are made from boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into thin pieces that kind of resemble an index finger. To be clear, chickens do not have fingers.
  • The technique used to coat the chicken strips in flour, eggs and breadcrumbs is called dredging.

Tool Kit:

Disposable gloves; cutting board; sharp knife; 3 shallow bowls or dishes; measuring cups and spoons; 3 forks for stirring; large frying pan; sheet pan; tongs or flipper; apron.

Tips:

  • The order for dredging — flour, beaten eggs, breadcrumbs — is intentional. Here’s why: the flour sticks to the chicken; the eggs stick to the flour; and the breadcrumbs stick to the egg. This ensures you get a crispy coating when frying.
  • You can set up the dredging station like an assembly line, with a plate or sheet pan at the end for the coated strips. When you have a few ready to go, your partner can start frying.
  • Dredging also can be used for fish fillets, pork chops or rounds of zucchini and eggplant.
  • To keep chicken strips warm, place in a 250 F oven. To reheat the next day, place in the oven or crisp up in an ungreased skillet. Do not use the microwave, which will make the coating soggy.
Cooking Skool chicken strips

In this week's Cooking Skool, learn to make crispy chicken strips, a fast food favorite.

Homemade Chicken Strips

Makes 4 to 5 servings.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt plus more for seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 to 3 eggs
  • 1 3/4 cups breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Optional: 1 teaspoon ground oregano and/or 1 teaspoon dried mustard
  • About 1 1/2 pounds boneless thinly sliced chicken breasts or chicken tenders
  • About 1/2 cup neutral oil for frying
  • Optional dipping sauces: Ketchup, mustard, ranch dressing, hot sauce

Directions:

Set up your dredging station with three shallow bowls. In one bowl, stir together the flour, salt and pepper. In a second bowl, beat two of the eggs with a fork. In a third bowl, stir together the breadcrumbs and cheese, plus the spices, if using.

With gloves on, pat dry the chicken with a paper towel on both sides. (This reduces water splatter when cooking.) Cut the chicken breasts lengthwise, into strips about 1/4-inch wide. (If using chicken tenders, you may omit this step.)

Lightly sprinkle some salt on both sides of the chicken, then dredge a few pieces at a time in the flour, making sure both sides are coated. Tap lightly to remove any excess flour, then drag the chicken into the beaten eggs, turning onto the second side to coat. With tongs, lift out of the eggs, allowing any excess to drip off. Lay the chicken into the breadcrumb mixture, pressing on both sides to make sure it sticks. Transfer to a plate or sheet pan. Repeat the process for each piece of chicken. If you run out of egg wash, use the remaining egg.

Place the skillet on the stovetop and turn the heat setting to medium-high. Add 1/4 cup of the oil and let it warm up; the oil is ready when a small breadcrumb sizzles when dropped into the pan.

Carefully add a few chicken strips at a time into the pan. Cook until golden brown and cooked through, about 3 minutes per side. Add more oil as you continue to cook the rest of the strips. Transfer the strips to a rack or a paper towel-lined plate to drain.

Eat while warm. Serve with your favorite dipping sauce.