I think our real motive for putting together the Grown-Up Kid’s Menu Party was an excuse to have these chicken tenders. A lot of people tend to shy away from making fried chicken, thinking that it’s too messy and oily. However, this recipe is surprisingly easy to pull off with absolutely finger-lickin’-good results. If you’re going to dive into a basket of these guys, be sure to pair it with Julie’s Classic Ranch.
A few tips:
- Brine the chicken! The recipe calls for 3 hours, but I brined mine overnight.
- Before you start frying, you must get the oil to 375 degrees. The oil needs to be 350 degrees in order to fry, and when you add the chicken, the temperature will drop. If the temperature is too low the tenders will soak up too much oil and get soggy.
- Jamie Oliver told me on TV to put a small potato in the oil and when it’s golden brown, the oil is hot enough.
- Be sure that your oil comes back up to 350-375 before starting your second batch.
Buttermilk Fried Chicken Tenders
Recipe courtesy of Nirasha Holcomb
1 cup kosher salt
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 cloves garlic, smashed
1 tablespoon hot paprika
1 bay leaf
1 quart buttermilk
1 1/2 pounds chicken tenders
Thoroughly mix all ingredients except the chicken. Add the chicken to the brine and soak. Then remove chicken, rinse, and pat dry with clean towels.
1 1/2 cups panko
4 cups all-purpose flour, divided
2 cups buttermilk
1 teaspoon baking powder
Fill a medium-large deep pot with about 3 inches of oil. Heat the oil to at least 350 degrees, but not more than 375. Using three separate bowls, fill one with the panko and 1 1/2 cups of the flour. Fill the second bowl with the rest of the flour, paprika, and a generous sprinkling of pepper. Whisk together the buttermilk, baking powder, and egg, and pour that into the last bowl.
Coat each chicken tender in the flour seasoning mixture first, then the buttermilk mixture, and finally the flour-panko mixture. Shake off any excess. Fry the tenders for 5-7 minutes.
Cool on a drying rack and serve warm (they will stay warm for up to 30 minutes on the rack).
A couple more tips for Val:
If you’re making these for a party, here are a few tricks to help get you out of the kitchen a little quicker and join your guests.
You can pre-dredge and coat the chicken and store in the fridge until ready to fry. In a 5-quart Dutch oven you can fry about 6-7 pieces at a time.
Another option is to dredge and fry the tenders pre-party, reheating them in a 300 F oven for 20 minutes.