Homemade Chicken Tenders
To quote a classic vine, "Mmmmm, chicken!" This recipe is endlessly modifiable - feel free to switch up the seasonings for different flavor profiles! One of my favorites is to add a bit of kimchi liquid into the marinade and gochugaru chili flakes to the breading.
Here's how to make homemade chicken tenders:
1) 12-24 hours before you plan to eat, make the buttermilk marinade. Mix 1 cup buttermilk, a generous pinch of salt, 1-2 tablespoons of buffalo sauce, and 1 teaspoon each of cayenne pepper, smoked paprika, and garlic powder. (The buffalo sauce here is more for flavor than for spice, so if you want spicy tenders, double the amount.) Put 1 lb of chicken tenderloins or chicken breast cut into narrow strips into the buttermilk mixture and let it marinate in the fridge.
2) After 12-24 hours of marinating, the chicken is ready for frying. Prepare a breading station:
Cover a dinner plate with a 1.5 cups flour. Season the flour with salt, black pepper, garlic powder, and smoked paprika.
Beat 2 eggs in a shallow bowl and season with salt.
Cover a second dinner plate with 2 cups of panko bread crumbs and season generously with salt, garlic powder, and smoked paprika.
3) Bread the chicken. First, cover each tender on all sides with flour. Second, dip them in the beaten eggs. Third, dip them in the bread crumbs. Set the breaded tenders on a plate or baking sheet lined with parchment paper and let them rest for 5-10 minutes.
4) While the tenders rest, add a 1-inch layer of vegetable oil to a pan. (I use an enameled cast iron skillet, but you can also use a dutch oven - you want something with a thick bottom to more easily control the heat of the oil.)
5) Over medium heat, let the oil warm to about 350 degrees. If you have a thermometer, you can use that. If you don't have one or you are too lazy to get it out, stick the end of a wooden spoon or a wooden chopstick into the oil. If it releases bubbles rapidly, the oil is hot enough.
6) Fry the tenders a few at a time, making sure not to crowd the pan. Fry them for about 3 minutes on each side or until the breading is golden brown and the chicken is about 155 degrees inside. (The actual time will depend on the size of your tenders.)
7) When each tender is cooked, set it on a rack set over a baking sheet and sprinkle with salt.
8) Serve with your favorite dipping sauce.