Thursday, April 12, 2012

Herb Crusted Chicken Tenders

I like cooking with herbs and use them any way I can. In the cheapest culinarians latest recipe, fresh rosemary provides a pungent kick of flavor to often bland Chicken Tenders.

It's a simple addition that makes all the difference. Just chop any fresh herb you have on hand and add it to dried bread crumbs -- you could even use dried herbs. If you are looking for a subtler taste then go for tamer chopped parsley -- the kids are less likely to push them to the edge of the plate. I've also tried these Herb Crusted Chicken Tenders with chopped sage and oregano.

I used chicken breast meat for this recipe, but you could use cheaper leg or thigh meat. (Even chicken wings or chicken livers would carry the coating nicely.) I often find bone-in whole chicken breast on sale for around a dollar per pound, and dark meat is even cheaper -- if you can breakdown a whole chicken, that's the cheapest way to go. White meat is easier to remove from the bone than dark meat -- but then, dark doesn't dry out as easily.

My local 99c only Store usually stocks cardboard cans of bread crumbs, sometimes even Japanese Panco crumbs. It's also easy to make your own, my recipe is here.

I fried half the herb coated Chicken Tenders in oil and baked the other half in the oven. The flavor was almost identical, only the appearance was different. Frying gave a more appetizing brown colored crust, but baking is the less greasy way to go. I liked both versions. Serve my Herb Crusted Chicken Tenders as party appetizers or the main entree.

Ingredients (1-2 servings)
  • 1 whole chicken breast - remove skin, slice off the bone and cut into strips. Okay to use dark meat.
  • Handful of fresh herbs, or a tablespoon of dried herbs - I roughly chopped a dozen fresh rosemary sprigs from my patio garden. Okay to use any you have growing including: oregano, parsley, sage, etc.
  • 1/2 cup flour - optional. Go from an egg wash to covering in breadcrumbs, if you want a lighter coating.
  • 1/2 to 1 cup of bread crumbs - Add as needed. I used Panko bread crumbs, but you can use any cheap brand. Or make you own (click here for my recipe.)
  • 1 egg - lightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons of oil for frying - may need to add more. You won't need as much oil if you bake the Chicken Tenders.
  • Salt and pepper to taste - which I mixed into the Panko crumbs.

Add 1/2 cup of flour to a shallow plate or bowl. Chop herbs and mix into another plate of bread crumbs. Season bread crumbs with salt and pepper. In a bowl lightly beat one whole egg.

Remove skin, from one chicken breast and slice the meat off the bone. Cut meat into strips. I got about 8 -10 strips from a  whole chicken breast.

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil over a medium heat. If you are baking the Chicken Tenders then heat up the oven to 375 degrees, and get out a baking sheet or tray with a rack.

Now time to coat and cook the Chicken Tenders. Coat the chicken strips in flour then dip them into the egg wash. Coat well with egg, then roll into the herb/bread crumb mixture. (Skip the flour coating if you want lighter tenders.)

You can start frying the coated chicken strips in batches. You just need to saute them until done - about 3-5 minutes on each side. Slice into one chicken strip to check before serving, to make sure juices run clear -- no red or pink liquid. Set aside tenders as they are done, you may need to add another tablespoon of oil for each batch you start. Saute until all the strips are done. Eat them while they are hot!

If you are baking them, then just line up the tenders on a lightly oiled pan, or tray with a rack. Cook at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes. You can turn them over after 20 minutes to lightly brown the other sides. The color will be lighter than when frying, but should taste the same. Again, slice into a tender to check for doneness, before serving.

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