It was Super Bowl Sunday and we wanted to have chicken tenders to dip in a variety of sauces. Almost all chicken tenders on the market are breaded with flour and pumped full of so many chem lab products that they are unrecognizable as food. What did I do? I got creative and experimented with the contents of my pantry.
|Crispy Chicken Bites|
I started with 6 organic chicken breasts and trimmed the skin, fat, and bones from them. Then I cut them into bite size chunks. (The chicken parts I didn't use got put into a covered roaster pan and cooked so that the remaining meat and drippings can be used in tacos and my homemade chicken stock. Waste not, want not, right?)
After the meat was cut up, I seasoned it with salt, garlic, poultry seasoning, and a pepper blend and set it aside to let the spices absorb a bit.
Now I needed something to bread the nuggets with. In my wheat eating days I would have used seasoned flour and Panko crumbs. Neither of these are options for me now.
I replaced the flour with corn meal that I seasoned with the same spices as on the chicken and a few dashes of ground chipotle spice.
The Panko crumbs were replaced with crushed gluten free corn Chex cereal. We put a few cups of cereal in a large zip top back and crushed it into small chunks (but we didn't pulverize it since I wanted a rough crunchiness to it).
When the dry ingredients were ready, I precooked the chicken cubes (covered) in the microwave until they were about 80% cooked through. This helps shorten the "in the oil" cooking time to decrease the oil absorption and to prevent over cooking the breading or under cooking the chicken. The amount of chicken I was using required two 3-minute cooking cycles, with stirring in between.
While the chicken was cooking I got an egg wash ready (one egg, whipped, and water to thin) and seasoned the wash also.
Next up was the messy part!
We put a few chicken chunks at a time in a large zip top bag with the corn meal in it and shook it to coat it.
Then the pieces were removed and dipped in the egg wash before being rolled in the crushed cereal.
The coated chicken was put in a shallow pan while we breaded the rest (in small batches).
Using a heavy frying pan, I put in about 3/4 of an inch of oil on medium/high heat to get hot. I let it heat for about 5 minutes and then tested a piece. I used canola oil to fry the chicken in but this would work equally well with peanut, coconut, Crisco, etc....pick your favorite oil. Olive oil probably won't work too well because it doesn't tolerate heat as well as other oils do.
I fried the chicken bites in small batches and let it cook about 2 minutes on a side and then turned it over to the other side for until the breading was the color I wanted. Since the chicken was precooked and the pieces were small, I didn't worry about it not being fully cooked. Note: I needed to skim the oil and add more about halfway through the batch of chicken.
After draining the pieces on some paper towel it was time to eat! The breading was crunchy but not oily and the chicken was fully cooked and it tasted like the fried chicken I had been missing. We used BBQ sauce, Buffalo sauce, and blue cheese dressing for dipping sauces but any dipping sauce would work well.
If you are not a fan of corn, rice flour and rice cereal would work. Actually, any GF flour and GF cereal would work for this.
If you make this recipe, let me know how it turns out and any variations you made.