No, these chicken tenders are not baked. Yes, they are shallow-fried in oil. But they are so delicious – so crunchy and juicy and flavorful and irresistible – that I refuse to apologize for it. They’re a once-in-a-while sort of food, and those are perfectly acceptable in my book.
A month or so ago, when I made these buffalo chicken quesadillas, Joe and the boys kept coming into the kitchen while I was frying batches of the chicken tenders. Thinking they were being very sneaky, they’d steal the fried, un-sauced ones I had sitting aside on paper towels. On one of his trips in, Joe said something about how good they were, and that we should just have those for dinner. I had to try one for myself, and I, too, was pretty impressed with how delicious they were on their own. The next week, I put the un-sauced version on our menu.
The secret to these delicious chicken tenders is, of course, the buttermilk. Buttermilk is just the perfect thing to soak chicken (or onions, for that matter) in before you fry it. It’s so tangy and creamy and it doesn’t take long for it to work its magic on the chicken tenders, keeping them moist and juicy while the coating gets crispy. With a generous dollop of ranch dressing for dipping, this is pretty much chicken tender heaven.
Buttermilk Chicken Tenders
1 pound boneless skinless chicken tenders
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Canola oil for frying
1. Add the chicken tenders to a medium bowl; pour the buttermilk over and mix to ensure that the tenders are coated completely. Let stand 10 minutes at room temperature.
2. Mix together the flour, seasoned salt, poultry seasoning, and pepper in large bowl. Add the chicken tenders and dredge completely.
3. Heat about an inch of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When heated, shake excess flour from chicken tenders and add to skillet. Fry until cooked through, golden brown and crispy, about 4 minutes on the first side and 3 minutes on the second side. Fry in batches, removing each previous batch to a paper towel to drain. Taste a tender for seasoning, and sprinkle with salt while still hot if needed.