Sunday, August 17, 2014

Crispy Chicken Tenders with Sweet Pepper Relish Dip




I have made numerous versions of breaded chicken tenders for my family, but this one has got to be my favorite to date. The breading is light and crispy with the help of my secret ingredient, butter flavored crackers—it provides the crunch factor while keeping the breading light and airy. I also use an unconventional coating technique which keeps every bit of the cracker crumbs in place without building a thick gloppy coating. The chicken is dipped into a flour mixture, followed by an egg wash, and then dipped into cracker crumbs. But that’s not all—it then gets coated with a layer of cooking spray (I never said this was a light recipe!), followed by a misting of the flour mixture.  The result is a delicious light and crispy breading on the chicken.

Crispy Chicken Tenders with Sweet Pepper Relish Dip



To accompany these glorious tenders, I serve them with my sweet pepper relish dip. I know! How good is that!? It’s a piece of cake to assemble and takes these tenders over the top.

Crispy Chicken Tenders with Sweet Pepper Relish Dip



Make them and watch them fly off the plate!





Crispy Chicken Tenders with Sweet Pepper Relish Dip:

For the Chicken:
40 butter flavored crackers (I use Ritz)
1 cup flour
2 1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 heaping tsp. garlic powder
1/2 heaping tsp. onion powder
2 tsp. smoked paprika
2 eggs
3 tbsp. milk
2 lbs. chicken tenderloins (about 12 to 16 pieces depending on the size)
Cooking spray
2 1/2 cups canola oil

For the Sweet Pepper Relish Dip:
3/4 cup sweet pepper relish
1/8 cup sour cream
1/8 cup mayonnaise
1/8 cup ketchup


Note: You will need a small metal fine mesh strainer for this recipe.

Place crackers in a large plastic bag. Lightly smash into coarse crumbs using a rolling pin or the bottom of a sturdy cup, being careful not to take it to the powder stage. Place on a plate or a wide shallow bowl.

Combine flour, salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika in a plate or a wide shallow bowl. Blend well with a fork. In wide shallow bowl, add eggs and milk. Whisk thoroughly.

To bread chicken: Dip into flour mixture, shaking off excess. Dip in egg mixture. Next, dip into cracker crumbs, patting crumbs onto chicken. Place on a flat surface. Continue breading the remaining chicken.

Place oil in a medium frying pan or heavy bottom saucepan. Preheat to 360 degrees F. Whatever size pan you use, make sure to add enough oil to cover at least 3/4-inch deep.

Spray a coat of cooking spray on tenders. This will help the top layer of flour adhere. Pour some of the left over flour mixture into a fine mesh strainer. Shake on a light coat of the flour over tenders, just enough to cover all of the crumbs. Turn chicken over and coat with cooking spray. Shake on flour mixture flour.

Place about 4 tenders into the hot oil. Don't pack theme in too tight. Cook about 3 to 5 minutes total, depending on the size, turning over once. Done when the outside is golden brown or when there is no pink in the center when sliced through. Place on paper towels to drain off oil. Continue cooking the remaining chicken.


To make sauce, combine red pepper relish, sour cream, mayonnaise, and ketchup in a small bowl. Serve alongside chicken tenders. Best eaten immediately—the coating will lose crispiness when stored. Makes 4 servings.



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