Saturday, November 15, 2014

Fried Chicken Tenders

A bowl of these golden brown fried mini-fillets will liven up any party, so read on to get the recipe for my Fried Chicken Tenders.

This recipe is based on my earlier Fried Chicken Sandwich video, click her to see it. You'll like the crunchy texture and spicy kick to the coating. This recipe is easy to adjust to your own taste. If I add too much black pepper, then take some out, or if you don't have a Cajun/Creole spice mix then use any you have on hand, or just use regular salt. I try to use ingredients everyone may have.

I found skinless and boneless chicken leg quarters (thigh and leg combined) on sale at my local Latin market, along with the standbys of chicken breast and regular leg quarter whole pieces.

Chicken legs and thighs are the cheapest and it's not too hard to debone. Just cut to reveal the bones and cut around them. You don't have to slice the meat off perfectly, since you will be cutting the meat into bite-sized pieces. Check out my GIF to see how I do it.

And while chicken breast is a little more expensive, it's the easiest to debone. All you do is slice along the breast bone, and the meat almost slides off. Plus white meat has less fat and ligaments to deal with. Just check out my GIFs below, it's really simple to do.

My recipe also calls for buttermilk to soak the chicken in. Well that is often hard to find and expensive. But I Googled a recipe for Homemade Buttermilk, so I have you covered cheaply there.

It takes some oil for deep frying. I always have leftover oil set aside for this. 

And listed below I added a few dipping sauces you can serve. I've got all the bases covered for you to pull together a delicious batch of my crunchy party friendly Fried Chicken Tenders.

Ingredients (about 12 chicken tenders)
  • 1 large chicken part - boneless. Thigh and leg, or breast. Slice deboned chicken into bite-sized pieces. Watch my animated GIFs above to see how I debone chicken.
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk - For homemade buttermilk add a 2 tablespoons of white vinegar or lemon juice, to half cup of milk. Stir and let the mixture sit for a couple of minutes.
  • 1 tablespoon seasoned salt - use favorite seasoning like Creole/Cajun or any spicy mix. This seems like a lot but seasonings goes into a lot of flour. Okay to substitute with a tablespoon of regular salt.
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder - or granulated garlic
  • 1 teaspoon paprika - optional, okay to substitute with chili powder.
  • 1 teaspoon pepper - add more or less to taste.
  • Oil for frying chicken - at least half an inch deep in a pan or pot. I used regular cheap vegetable oil.
  • *Extra ingredient is a teaspoon of favorite dried herbs like: sage, rosemary, basil or oregano.

Dipping Sauces
  • Thai Peanut: 1/2 can of coconut cream or milk, 2 tbsp. peanut butter.
  • Garlic Mayo: 1/4 cup mayo, 1 tablespoon garlic powder (or granulated.)
  • Honey Mustard: 1/4 cup mustard, 2 tablespoons of honey.
  • Tonkatsu Sauce (Japanese): 3 tablespoons of steak sauce (A1, or your favorite,) 3 tablespoons of ketchup, 1 tablespoon soy sauce.

Remove bone from chicken pieces. Slice chicken fillets into bite-sized pieces. The chicken pieces don't have to be exactly the same size.

I went the easy route and bought skinless and boneless leg quarters on sale. The pieces are quite large, so I sliced it into about 12 bite-sized pieces. White meat is easy to work with, as it slices cleanly from the bone.

Deboning it yourself is the cheapest way.

Thigh and leg meat takes a little more work to debone. Just slice to expose the bone. To remove the meat in one piece, hold the exposed bone and cut around the bone and cartilage ends. It takes a little practice, but one you've done it a few times, it gets easier. Of course, use a sharp knife and be careful with it.

Use a large skillet or pot. Put enough oil to reach 1/2 inch deep. Get the oil hot over a medium heat, to about 300 degrees. I don't use a thermometer, as my gas stove setting is close enough.

Lay out one plate for flour and a wide shallow bowl for buttermilk. (For Homemade Buttermilk mix half cup of milk with 2 tablespoons of vinegar.)

Add all the spices to flour and mix well. My spice amounts are just suggestions, you can adjust any of them to suit your own taste. Too much black pepper? Okay then add half the amount. Want more spice? Then add a sprinkle of cayenne pepper. If you are on a salt restricted diet, then just omit it.

And leave me a comment if you have a great Seasoned Flour Recipe, I'm sure other visitors would be curious, too!

Take some chicken pieces and dip into the buttermilk, moisten all sides. Return buttermilk coated chicken pieces to seasoned flour. Coat the chicken pieces on all sides, pressing the flour into any crevices.

For a less messy method you could put the seasoned flour in a gallon ziploc bag, then add a few of the buttermilk coated chicken and shake the bag to coat chicken.

Now time to fry it up.

When the oil is hot, carefully add coated chicken pieces. Fry each side about 3-5 minutes each, until brown.

Allow chicken to fry a couple of minutes without moving it around. The coated chicken may stick to the pan, but don't move it. It will release itself.

When chicken is done let it drain for a minute on a rack or paper towel - I prefer a metal rack, as paper towels get damp with juices and may make the crust slightly mushy. Although you can blot off excess grease from the fried chicken with a paper towel. (Letting the fried chicken set for a minute allows it to cool down just a little, so you can bite into it without burning yourself.)

If you're not sure the Fried Chicken is cooked all the way through, then make a small slice into the thickest fried chicken nugget to see that the juices run clear, not red or pink - return it for frying if chicken is not cooked through, and give it another minute or so to cook through.

Serve with one of my dipping sauces.

For a lighter crust, leave out the buttermilk wash step - just coat the chicken in flour only.

Remember to let fresh fried chicken cool down for a minute, or you will get burned.

It's can be messy frying chicken. First, flour can get all over your counter and there will be grease splatter. For my video I fried the chicken pieces in a regular frying pan. If you have a deeper pot, then that will keep most of the hot grease splatter off your stove top. You can half-cover the pot when frying - but keep a lookout on the frying chicken to make sure it doesn't burn.

My Fried Chicken Tenders are well seasoned. Once you've done my recipe, fell free to adjust the seasoning amounts - more or less to your taste.

White meat, while more expensive is easier to work with. I prefer dark meat for the flavor, but it does have more fat and some chewy tendons - hey, I like me some chewy bits and extra texture.
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