Southwest Ovenfried Chicken Tenders

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southwest_ovenfried_chicken_tendersIt is getting to be that time of year again. You know what I mean, right? That special time to gather your friends and family to enjoy that yearly ritual of watching the Super Bowl! Now, I have to admit that we are not huge football fans around here, but we do catch a few games each year, and one of them is always the big game. We are just here for the food though – the football game is just an excuse. Every year, I make some special munchies to enjoy and these Southwest Ovenfried Chicken Tenders are often at the top of the list.

They’re perfect – filled with great flavors, a little healthy, and they can mostly be made ahead of time, just popping it in the oven for a few minutes right before serving.

Chicken & Marinade:
2 large chicken breasts, pounded to 1/4 thickness, each cut into 8 pieces
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

1 cup dried breadcrumbs
1/3 cup cornmeal
1 tablespoon Parsley Flakes
1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1 teaspoon Granulated Garlic
1 teaspoon Powdered Onion Granules
1 teaspoon Mexican Oregano
1 teaspoon Chimayo Chili Powder
1 teaspoon California Chili Powder
1 teaspoon Smoked Paprika
1/2 teaspoon Chipotle Chili Powder
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground Black Peppercorns
Olive Oil

It is best to marinate the chicken in the buttermilk over night. Buttermilk has a truly magical effect on chicken, adding flavor, tenderness and juiciness. If overnight isn’t possible, try for at least an hour or two. Measure the buttermilk into a small bowl, add the seasonings and mix together. Put the chicken pieces in a gallon ziplock bag, and pour in the marinade. Squeeze out as much air as you can, and seal. Kind of squish it around to get the chicken all nestled snugly in there. Place in a shallow dish and put in the fridge for up to 24 hours.southwest_ovenfried_ingredientsNext, combine all of the breading ingredients in a pie plate or other flat container. Line a large, heavy baking sheet with parchment paper, and put a cooling rack of some kind on top of the parchment. Once you have the chicken pieces breaded, you are going to let them sit for awhile so that the breading sticks really well, and that cooling rack will ensure that the tenders don’t get soggy on the bottom.

Remove each piece of chicken from the marinade, shaking to remove excess, and dredge in the breadcrumb mixture, turning to evenly coat the whole piece. Lay the pieces on the rack, over the baking sheet. These should sit awhile at this point – an hour is good, but several hours will not be too long. This is one the reasons I like serving these to company, because I always like things where I do all the hard stuff ahead of time. They will be fine just on the counter for an hour, but any longer than that, and they should be in the fridge.

When ready to cook, start the oven preheating to 400ยบ, and carefully remove the rack from the baking pan. Pick southwest_ovenfried_chicken_tenders250up the parchment paper and discard any crumbs on there, and put it back on the baking sheet. Give each tender a little squiggle of olive oil on the top, place oil side down on the sheet, and give the other side a shot of olive oil too. Bake for 6 minutes, carefully turn over each piece and bake for another 6 minutes on that side. At this point the tenders should feel firm to the touch, and be very nicely browned all over – if not, return to the oven for another couple minutes.

Serve hot, with guacamole, salsa and sour cream for dipping. Or, try one of the many great hot sauces you can get here on the site, like Blair’s Jalapeno Tequila, which is one of our favorites.



Donalyn is a long time food blogger - this is what she has to say about blogging for us: "My husband and I are blissful empty-nesters, enjoying the good life in rural Upstate NY. We grow a huge garden and are always looking for new challenges, the latest of which is brewing beer from our own home grown hops. My take on food is to use the freshest, most local food you can find and give it plenty of flavor. That is where The Great American Spice Company comes in. I've used their products for years, and I'm thrilled to be sharing some of our favorite recipes on their blog."
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