365 Recipes: Fried Chicken Tenders

The Recipe:

One of the Christmas presents we received (well, technically, the Partner in Crime received it, but the two shall become one flesh and all…) was an adorably miniature deep fryer. It’s taken us a while, but we’re slowly venturing into the exciting world of deep frying things. Donuts are at the top of my list to try next, but for now, here’s my first attempt at fried chicken, inspired by the recipe from this amazing Cook’s Illustrated cookbook (seriously, buy it; you won’t regret it) and this Chowhound thread.

The Ingredients:

Chicken Marinade
10-12 chicken tenders
1/2-1 cup buttermilk
Salt, pepper, paprika, and cayenne, to taste

Breading
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 large egg, beaten
1 cup buttermilk

Peanut oil or vegetable shortening, for frying

The Recipe:

  1. Earlier in the day, combine all marinade ingredients in a plastic storage container or bag, toss to coat, and refrigerate.
  2. About 2 hours before you plan to eat, remove the chicken from the marinade, shaking off excess, and spread on a wire rack set on top of a baking sheet. Refrigerate an additional hour.
  3. Remove chicken from refrigerator and prepare two pie plates; one with the flour, and one with the baking powder, baking soda, egg, and buttermilk whisked together. Preheat the oven to 200F, and place another wire rack and baking sheet on the middle shelf. Place a paper-towel lined plate beside deep fryer. Pour oil into deep fryer to a depth of about 2 inches and heat to 350F.
  4. Working in batches of four, dip tenders into flour, turning to coat. Shake off excess, then dip into the egg mixture and turn to coat, allowing the excess to drip off. Coat in flour once more, shake off excess, and place in fryer basket.
  5. Fry pieces for about 4-5 minutes, until crust is golden brown and inside of chicken is no longer pink (you should only have to check one piece and use it as a guide as they will all be the same size.)
  6. Remove chicken to paper towel to drain for 1 minute, then place in warm oven and continue frying the remainder of the batch. Serve with your favourite dipping sauce. (I used buttermilk biscuits and coleslaw with buttermilk dressing as my sides for a pleasing round of buttermilk-based dishes.)

The Verdict:
It’s a good starting point. I was happy with the moisture of the chicken and the crispiness of the breading, and although the breading didn’t adhere to the chicken as well as it would’ve if I used skin-on pieces, the ease of prep and the uniform cooking time were good trade-offs. My big beef with this as a recipe was just that the breading was pretty bland. However, using the Chowhound thread linked above, I think I can work out a blend of spices to add to the breading to bring its flavour up to the level of the texture.

Also, fair warning: this is not one of those easy weeknight meals I love so much. These are the words that came out of my mouth as I served up: “Enjoy this, because I probably won’t be making it again until the baby is over 1 year…”

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