I love fried chicken. It’s the epitome of comfort food. Pair it with mashed potatoes and my heart soars. Maybe I’m the only one who suffers this affliction, but when I eat fried chicken, I am clumsy and incredibly ungraceful about the bones. I always end up biting one, poking my hand with one or scratching myself. I hate it. Not to mention the meat tends to be pretty greasy and sometimes the coating falls off. Note this: There is nothing worse than the fried part falling off before you take a bit of it with chicken. Half the reason I eat fried chicken is for that coating. You best believe I want to eat the crunchy part with the chickeny part. Did we already talk about how much it sucks to cut up a chicken? I do not enjoy this one bit.
Because of my sufferings, I came up with a recipe that combines the indulgence of fried chicken with the ease of boneless chicken. These are fried chicken strips, and I wish I could eat them every day. I wish I was eating them right now. They are best served along side warm cornbread dripping with honey and buttery mashed potatoes (because we need a healthy vegetable in there). Simmer down, Nelly, we’re all going to learn how to make this.
1 package chicken breast tenders
Buttermilk (or regular milk with some salt to make a brine)
4 cups flour, divided evenly
2 teaspoons salt, divided evenly
1 teaspoon pepper, divided evenly
2 teaspoons paprika, divided evenly
2 teaspoons garlic powder, divided evenly
Vegetable oil (or lard because I work at Grit magazine)
1. In a shallow dish, soak chicken in buttermilk for a minimum of 30 minutes. I like to stick it in the fridge and let it soak for an hour or two if I have time.
2. Using two paper bags, pie pans, or any other shallow dish, place the divided flour, salt, pepper, paprika and garlic powder. For example: I would have two paper bags (or shallow dishes), each with 2 cups flour, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, 1 teaspoon paprika and 1 teaspoon garlic powder.
3. Prepare a separate dish with enough buttermilk to coat all the strips.
4. In the meantime, pour an inch or so of oil into a heavy skillet. Heat over medium-low or medium heat. We need to make sure the strips attain a perfect golden color while being cooked through.
5. Coat strips in the following order (I find you can do about three at a time):
• Remove strips from old buttermilk, place in bag 1, shake to coat, drop into new buttermilk, place in bag 2, shake to coat, set aside.
6. Repeat until all strips have been ‘double-dipped’.
7. Cook strips in oil until golden, turn and place on a paper towel lined plate. They should take a minute and a half to two minutes each side. Check the first one out to make sure there’s no pink remaining in the middle.
8. Pat yourself on the back for combining the greatest parts of both fried chicken and chicken strips. Ring that triangular dinner bell and get your brood to the dinner table. The only problem I see here is that we need more cowbell.