For about two years I've been occasionally throwing parties to play video games or watch TV and movies. Over that time, I started luring people in with the promise of Fried Chicken and I think I've refined this recipe enough that it's pretty good. There are a good number of other things I cook but they tend to be stolen recipes (say from the Pioneer Woman or Alton Brown) and this is the only one I can come close to calling my own. At any rate, here we go.
This recipe makes ~3 lbs of chicken tenders which works out to between 18 and 24 pieces. There are three parts to these tenders. There is a hot sauce we'll marinade them in, the breading and the tenders themselves. Aside from the list of ingredients you'll need a deep frying pan, tongs, a mixing bowl, the usual measuring cups and some gallon freezer bags. I tend to get a bag as close to ~3lbs as I can of Chicken Tenderloins the same day I plan to cook them and leave them in the sink to thaw for 4-5 hours before I cook them. The breading and hot sauce don't take very long so they can be done early or just before cooking the chicken.
First comes the sauce...
3 Tbs. Butter
3 Tbs. Olive Oil
4 (large-ish) to 6 (small-ish) cloves garlic, minced
2 Tsp each: Cayenne Pepper, Sea Salt or Kosher Salt, Black Pepper
2 Bottles of Texas Pete Buffalo Wing Sauce. Approx 18 oz. each.
Start by melting the butter and olive oil in a saucepan on medium heat. Once the butter is melted, add the garlic and sautee it until golden brown.
Normally I'm good and mince (or talk someone else into mincing) fresh garlic but I was lazy and used some of the pre-minced stuff this time. You'll be pretty distracted with other aspects of the hot sauce anyway.
Next you'll want to get 2 teaspoons of Cayenne Pepper, Sea Salt or Kosher Salt (Kosher here) and Ground Black Pepper ready along with 2 bottles of Texas Pete Buffalo Wing Sauce.
Add the spices once the garlic is golden brown, then pour in the first bottle of Texas Pete and stir. Once it's blended nicely, add in the second bottle of Texas Pete and stir occasionally until it begins to boil. You can have a taste if you like but your nose should give you fair warning of what you're in for. Once it starts boiling, reduce the heat to low and let it simmer for 5 minutes, then remove it altogether and allow it to cool. This will make enough for at least 2 batches of tenders, probably 3 or 4. The sauce is excellent on a few sides as well and refrigerates fine so I just try to keep some on hand. See? Plenty. That's got to be 4 cups at least.
Now let's prepare the breading...
3 Cups Flour
4 Tsps. Kosher Salt or Sea Salt
3 Tsp. Paprika
2 Tsp each: Garlic Powder, Cumin, Cayenne Pepper, Black Pepper
1/3 cup Buttermilk
The breading is good because we just the throw the damn spice rack at it. Here's our cast of characters. Start by putting 3 cups of flour in a mixing bowl and then add the other spices but hold off on the buttermilk for now. You should have a lovely splash of colors in there. Now stir gently with a fork until the flour appears blended. Before you start cooking the tenders, slowly pour in the buttermilk while stirring with the fork. This will help the breading adhere to the tenders and makes a wonderful difference in how consistently your tenders retain their breading.
Finally! Let's make some chicken.
~3 lbs. Chicken Tenders/Tenderloins
1 Cup Hot Sauce
3 Tbs. Cornstarch
A bunch of vegetable or canola oil.
This is the gross and rather unpleasant part. We're going to reach into our bag of mostly thawed chicken tenderloins and drop them into a gallon freezer bag filled with a cup of Hot Sauce and 3 tablespoons of Cornstarch. Oh, did I forget that part? Grab a gallon freezer bag and mix those two together in it. Then set the two bags up in your sink and you're ready to go. Get some warm to hot water running, take each tenderloin out of the bag, give it a little rinse to make sure it isn't stiff and at the very least has all the ice off it then plop it in the marinade. Once you've done this with all the tenderloins, seal the bag (I recommend Ziploc) and shake it around a bit until everything seems well coated. Once that's done you'll want to marinade the chicken for 1-2 hours at room temperature. Lay them down flat and even somewhere and set a timer. Go do something useful. I suggest writing code or making good playlists.
Once the tenders are almost done marinating you can go ahead and start heating the oil and cooking other parts of the meal. It'll take 20-30 minutes to cook 3lbs of tenders 3 at a time once the oil is hot. As a side, I heartily recommend some Crispy Crowns. No Tater Tots aren't good enough and no, Kroger brand knock-offs won't quite work. Ore-Ida, contact me for payment details.
Put your deep frying pan on the stove, add several inches of Canola or Vegetable Oil and set the stove to medium. Now we'll start breading the tenders. Pick them up from the bag and give them a little shake to drip off any excess marinade, then toss them into your mixing bowl and shake it around a bit. It's all in the wrist. Also, if anyone wants to buy me a Lumix GF1 I'll take better pictures. Promise. After the black box shaking magic, you'll get some nice, well-breaded tenders. If you're not satisfied feel free to use your hands to lightly rub or pat some breading into them. Then lay them on some plates with paper towels.
About now it's time to test if the oil is hot. Toss a little pinch of breading in and you should see this happen: If it did, you are now "Go for Chicken". Lower 3 pieces in with the tongs and get excited. They should bubble up somewhat substantially. I tend to cook them about a minute and a half a side. After 3 minutes (or a little more, use your own discretion) is up, take them out one by one with the tongs letting any excess oil drip off before placing them on a serving plate to cool. Let me know if you have any suggestions for improvements.