The Lexingtonienne



When my dad turned 50, he, my stepmother, Sister, Little Brother and I went to a very fancy restaurant in Louisville to celebrate.



I was 23 then and living in Los Angeles. For all intents and purposes a grown-up, I had exposed myself to a decent array of “fancy,” “big-city” dining experiences. But Kentucky’s own 610 Magnolia was, by far, the fanciest I had ever seen.


We had tried in advance to prepare Little Brother, who was 12 years old at the time and subsisted on a steady diet of ice cream and chicken fingers. “Ross,” we had said, “We’re going to a restaurant that’s very adult and isn’t really for kids. But it’s Dad’s birthday and this is where he wants to go. Do your best, and we can go to McDonald’s afterwards if necessary.”



When we got to 610 Magnolia, the menu was even fancier than I had anticipated. I didn’t know what half of the offerings were. There were things like lemongrass nage and gremolata aioli and yucca. Yucca? Little Brother, who literally ordered chicken fingers every single time we went out to eat anywhere, was out of luck at this place.



Still, he endured an amuse bouche where the waiter placed a compartmentalized plate containing three tiny, edible sculptures before each of us. I consider myself a foodie, but to this day I still have no idea exactly what all I ate that night. Whatever it was, it was delicious. And throughout the evening, Little Brother exhibited a sense of humor coupled with a zen-like patience that exceeded his 12 years. That is, until it was time for dessert.




Dad ordered an artisanal cheese plate. Little Brother ordered mocha dacquoise (which, to this day, still makes me giggle), and Sister had some sort of confection involving a fried banana. The fried banana, apparently, was Little Brother’s breaking point.


His brow lowered ominously into the expression he had donned since infancy to warn everyone around him that a category 8 storm was brewing. It is not unlike when Bruce Banner begins to turn green, signaling that you have officially passed the point of no return.


“Hey!” he snapped in his trademark gravelly growl. “If they can fry her a banana, why can’t they go back there and fry me some chicken fingers?!?!”


Thankfully we were able to talk our little Incredible Hulk off his chicken finger ledge, but he made a perfectly good point. Because I’m here to tell ya… frying some chicken fingers is pretty easy business. It’s no lemongrass nage, but here’s a recipe that’s sure to please both the kids and the adults in your life.


Adapted from The Barefoot Contessa Family Style

1 package chicken tenders, rinsed and patted dry
1 C all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 eggs
1 C Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs
1/2 C grated parmesan cheese
Olive oil

Combine flour, salt, and pepper in a shallow bowl. Beat the eggs in another shallow bowl. In a third shallow bowl, stir together breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese. Arrange bowls in an assembly line by the stove.

In a large skillet, melt about 1 tablespoon each butter and olive oil over medium-low heat. Dredge each chicken tender in flour, then egg, then breadcrumbs, coating well. Cook for about 3 minutes on each side.

Depending on the size of your pan, you may need to work in batches. If so, keep cooked chicken fingers warm on a cookie sheet lined with paper towels in the oven on the lowest possible heat. If you are working in batches, add additional butter and olive oil to the pan for each batch.

Have a great week,

P.S. My friend Rebecca had requested finger foods you could serve, for example, to your book club. I made these once for a book club meeting and they were a big hit. You can do it about 30 minutes before your guests arrive and keep the chicken fingers warm in the oven until you’re ready to serve. (Btw, Rebecca, I’m planning on posting some more finger food recipes in the future!)


  • Comment by laser vision — November 8, 2010 @ 8:36 pm

    still mad about that

  • Comment by Adrian — November 9, 2010 @ 12:48 am

    INCREDIBLE HULK/CHICKEN FINGER LEDGE! Love it. These look yummers.

  • Comment by rebecca — November 9, 2010 @ 7:03 am

    Thanks, Hannah! Perfect timing on this post since I am hosting book club a week from today 🙂 You may have to email me more ideas before then!!

  • Comment by Dad — November 9, 2010 @ 7:41 am

    The chef at 610 Magnolia, Edward Lee, was the winner against Jose Garces on “Iron Chef America” broadcast this past Sunday on The Food Network. His secret ingredient was tongue and cheek. Sorry, Ross – still no chicken fingers!

  • Comment by Danielle — November 9, 2010 @ 8:00 am

    I wondered if perhaps you were referring to 610 when you mentioned a fancy restaurant in Louisville. My husband took me there for my birthday many years ago and we still talk about that dining experience to this day. It encompassed several of our firsts too, including foie gras (blt). We ate it all and loved every morsel. It’s on our list to go back to someday – hopefully sooner rather than later!

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