CHICKEN TENDERS….they are not just for the kiddies and they do not have to be an over processed mess of unpronounceable ingredients, fats, and sugar and salt. Yes, here’s an adult Chicken Tender recipe that will satisfy adults and self proclaimed “we only eat Chicken Fingers” kids. Breaded Tenders are part of the American fast food scene, a big part but let’s not demonize the tenders. Let’s be honest, you like them, maybe you LOVE them. Me? What do you think? Good, you know me and yes, I LOVE THEM! While I echew the QUICK AND EASY as the first thought in approaching a recipe (simply because it takes away many key components to a dish or uses processed ingredients or takes away the best part of cooking (for me) which is the whole process of cooking itself. Turning raw ingredients into a table of finished dishes for self, family and friends, that’s why I cook), this is a fairly easy recipe. A little definition lesson here, a chicken tender is the inner part of the breast which is nestled along the breastbone. It pulls away from the rest of the breast very easily. It really is the most tender part of the chicken and requires the shortest amount of cooking. It’s like buttah! Not convinced that a chicken tender recipe will meet your adult needs? Keep reading. By the way chicken fingers are the rest of the breast cut into strips. Tender, but not as tender as a…..TENDER. Here’s the downside to most breaded chicken tenders from a technical point of view, there’s the flouring, the egg, the breading, the frying. These tenders I’m presenting to you do not contain those steps. See? My idea of quick and easy. The seasoned breadcrumb mix is simply pressed into the raw tenders and sauteed, not deep fried . The breading doesn’t stay on in a uniform way like the traditional breading process does, think free form, think lots of flavor and a little time saved. I don’t use one process over another, my cooking is impulsive. My mood or available time will always dictate what and how I’m cooking so this is not a substitute for frying, it’s a whole ‘nother recipe for you. Fresh Rosemary has such flavor, let me pontificate on that for a moment…do not use dried. The flavor is different and the texture certainly is different. Most supermarkets carry fresh rosemary year round so I’m not sending you on a “hard-to-find” ingredient journey. The difference between dried rosemary and fresh is so vast, i will not bore you with dull details, but it’s all about bright fresh flavor which the dried rosemary cannot deliver. So having said all of this I hope you’re as excited to learn and cook this as I am to share my recipe with you!
FOR: 4 PEOPLE TIME: 1/2 HOUR
12 CHICKEN TENDERS, LIGHTLY POUNDED (LIGHTLY, NOT THE SAME WAY YOU POUND A CUTLET), MAKE SURE TO TRIM OFF THAT LITTLE WHITE “TAG” THAT IS AT ONE END
1/4 CUP OLIVE OIL
1 CUP SEASONED BREAD CRUMBS (OR CREATE YOUR OWN)
1 1/2 TSP. FINELY MINCED FRESH ROSEMARY
2 TBS. GRATED PARMIGIANO-REGGIANO
KOSHER SALT, GROUND BLACK PEPPER
3 TBS MAYONNAISE
1 TBS DIJON MUSTARD
Whisk the mayo and mustard together in a wide bowl. Set aside. Mix the breadcrumbs with the Parmigiano and Rosemary, if using plain or your own breadcrumbs, season with salt and pepper. Do not season “Seasoned breadcrumbs”…obviously, you’ll over season/salt the crumbs.
Lightly coat the tenders with the mayo/mustard mix then press the breadcrumbs into the tenders on both sides. Remove to a rack until you are done with the breading. You just want to moisten them with the mayo/mustard so they allow the crumbs to adhere to the tenders.
Heat 1 1/2 tbs of olive oil in a non-stick pan and when the oil is hot cook the chicken for on the first side for at least 5 minutes on medium heat, make sure you hear the sizzle or it’s too cool and the oil will soak into the breading and then burn. When there is a nice golden crust on the bottom you can flip them over and let them cook for 4 minutes or until golden. Remove to a platter until all are done. Serve with sprigs of fresh rosemary. Something magical happens here. The fresh rosemary over the hot tenders adds more aroma to the dish and you will be tasting that while eating.. Dipping sauce? This blogger says no, there are not fast food chicken fingers, these are succulent chicken tenders. They look beautiful on a plate and as very flavorful. Serve over a brown rice or rice pilaf and a vegetable.
I realize we all don’t want/care to spend time in the kitchen, but maybe think deeper about the “quick and easy” prefacing of cooking. There can be a happy medium without compromising the food and the dish. Happy Cooking!