Chicken / Comfort Food / Dips / Entrees / Fall Recipes / Guilty Pleasures / Party Food

Cook: No-Fail Fried Chicken Tenders

I’ve unlocked the code to fried chicken, and I didn’t even know there was a code.  I’ve truly never had bad fried chicken, except for nuggets–I’m not a fan of nuggets.  Other than that, I’m sure I’ve had greasy fried chicken or fried chicken that was probably frozen at one time, but while I was clearing my plate, I wasn’t thinking this fried chicken just isn’t doing it for me.  I wish I ordered a salad.  
 
That said, this chicken is different.  Maybe I didn’t know what I was missing not frying my chicken at home.  Or maybe everyone in the world does this and I haven’t unlocked anything.  Either way, I’ve found a fool-proof way to fry chicken that is incredibly flavorful, super crunchy, and yields the juiciest chicken.  The key?  Buttermilk.

I made this chicken for the Super Bowl, and I am not exaggerating when I say that after K snuck a bite of the first batch of chicken, it took the man to his knees.  It’s that good.  Don’t let the frying scare you.  If you can heat oil, you can fry chicken, and then you can rule the world because everyone will be struck dumb by how good your chicken is, will eat too much of it, and slip into a happy food coma.
This is my plan, anyway.
You just fried chicken!  I think this is a big deal!
Now, eat that chicken!
I made an assortment of sauces that were not all for the chicken, but were all delicious with the chicken.    We had other appetizers that required sauce too.  The sauce post is coming up next, per a reader request, but until then what you see there is buffalo, blue cheese, honey mustard, and my own special concoction of fry-sauce.
The chicken is incredibly juice and tender.  What’s amazing is that the meat is actually flavorful throughout.  This is not just about the breading, which is weird for me, because that’s usually my favorite part of fried things.  In this case, though, the breading is definitely crunchy but not overpowering.  It’s not too greasy, either.  I’m telling you the truth when I say that it’s fool-proof.
This chicken is it.  And if you make it, you can help me rule the world, too, if you want to.  I’m sure that’s an exhausting job for one person.
Here’s the recipe!
No-Fail Fried Chicken Tenders
 
Ingredients
  • 1 pound of chicken tenderloins or chicken breasts, cut into strips.  You can cut these into smaller bites too, if you want.
  • 1 1/2 cup buttermilk, plus 1 tablespoon for the breading
  • 1/4 cup hot sauce, such as Frank’s Red Hot
  • 2 teaspoons salt, divided, and more for seasoning the final product
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper, divided
  • 1 teaspoon cajun seasoning, divided
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup coarse cornmeal
  • Vegetable oil, for frying (this will depend on how big your pot is, but I will tell you that it should fill 1/2 the pot, so about 3 inches of oil.  My deep-fryer requires a gallon!  You can also do this in a skillet with about an inch of oil, but you’ll have to flip them–it won’t be as easy as just submerging them in oil).
Method
  1. In a ziplock bag or large bowl, add chicken.  Cover with buttermilk, hot sauce, 1 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon of cajun seasoning.  Make sure the chicken is submerged, then zip or cover and place in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour, but up to 24.
  2. Meanwhile, heat oil to 350 degrees, as measured by a candy or fry thermometer, or when the oil bubbles when you place a wooden spoon in it.
  3. As the oil comes up to temperature, bread your chicken.  In a large plate or bowl, add flour, cornmeal, the rest of the seasonings, and one tablespoon of buttermilk.  Toss to combine, making sure the buttermilk is absorbed and has formed nice little chunks of breading.  Working in batches, take the chicken from the buttermilk and toss it in the breading, making sure it is well coated.  Transfer to a wire rack that has been placed over a baking sheet.
  4. When the chicken is breaded, carefully place in the hot oil, working in batches.  Let fry for about 6-8 minutes, until the breading is a deep golden brown and the chicken is white throughout.  You may need to move it around a bit with a wooden spoon or strainer to ensure it’s not sticking.  Season with salt right out of the fryer.  Repeat until all the chicken is fried.  If you need to keep the chicken warm, you can place the plate into an oven preheated to the lowest temperature.
  5. Serve with your favorite dipping sauces (coming soon!) 
Enjoy!

 

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