“Everyone loves a chicken tender, yet some people might think it’s basic,” says chef and Plateworthy host Nyesha Arrington. “It’s not actually. It’s really complicated.”
She begins the complex process by breaking down the chicken to show where the actual tender can be found. Next, she brines the chicken in buttermilk with a little bit of salt and sugar for about 20 minutes. After the meat is prepared, chef Arrington walks us through the ingredients and techniques she uses to make her “shatter batter,” a super crunchy coating that will make and keep these tenders crispy.
After dredging the chicken in flour and the batter, she drops the tenders in hot oil, not once, but twice, to ensure the inside is cooked, and the outside is extra crispy, but not burnt. After plating her chicken, she takes an audibly crunchy bite.
“That is what you want when you eat a chicken tender: cr-unch!” she says emphatically. “That buttermilk brine goes all the way through. It’s exciting my entire pallet. And those spices shine... It just encapsulates all of your tastebuds.”
Check out the recipe below:
Crispy Crunchy Chicken Tenders Recipe:
Yield: 10 pieces
Prep time: 20mins
Cool time: 15mins
10 Chicken tenders
3 cups buttermilk
5 thyme sprigs
For the Shatter Batter:
3 cups soda water + more if necessary
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup rice flour
1 cup cornstarch
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ tablespoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon mustard powder
½ teaspoon black pepper
4 organic large egg whites
1 teaspoon sugar
Step 1: In a large mixing bowl, add buttermilk, salt, sugar and marinate chicken tenders in buttermilk brine (for about 25 minutes up to 24 hours).
Step 2: In a large mixing bowl, sift AP flour, rice flour and cornstarch. Mix briefly.
Step 3: Add baking powder, baking soda, salt, onion powder, garlic powder, cayenne, paprika, mustard powder and black pepper. Whisk together.
Step 4: Add soda water and mix briefly.
Step 5: In a separate medium mixing bowl, add egg whites and whisk until light and airy.
Step 6: Fold egg whites into a larger mixing bowl with shatter batter ingredients. Do not over mix.
Step 7: In a separate medium mixing bowl, add 2.5 cups AP flour.
Step 8: In a deep skillet, add canola oil. Heat to 350f degrees.
Step 9: Once oil is heated, add 1 TSP (or small spoonful) of oil blend to shatter batter and mix gently.
Step 10: Dust chicken tenders in flour, then dip into shatter batter.
Step 11: Fry for 4-5 minutes or until chicken is thoroughly cooked.
Step 12: Rest for 3-4 minutes.
Step 13: Take rested chicken tenders and fry for 1-2 additional minutes at 425 degrees.
Step 14: Season w fine salt.