Saturday, July 31, 2010

Will They Eat This? #26

What child won't eat chicken tenders? -- especially if you go through a drive through with a big fancy order board that requires you to scream you gastronomical desires out your window and to the world! Can I have fries with that, please?

Breaded tenders are so easy to make and taste much better than the deep fried, and make it quick, versions you get at the take out counters. There are a variety of ways to tweak the breading, but I tend to stay with the Italian style recipe myself.

Cooks will argue with you about buying prepared bread crumbs with the amount of bread we tend to waste; stale bread makes wonderful homemade bread crumbs. However, the world is what it is and bread crumbs are relatively inexpensive considering how often we use them to cook. So, take your pick, toast stale bread and put it in the food processor for homemade bread crumbs or buy a can. I don't much care, and I do both.

The green beans were a frozen bag of Haricot Vert from a local grocery store. I like these beans significantly more than your regular green bean. They seem a bit sturdier and less likely to get mushy. There are a variety of applications that work well with this bean. I didn't do anything magical with them this time, but I have sauteed them before with some onions and slivered almonds (no, I didn't add cream of mushroom soup and fried crushed onions). Just simple fare with a little flair.

The yellow squash was from my garden. We have had a good supply this year, it's been wonderful. It's colorful and tasty; what a beautiful way to perk up a plate and make something as simple as chicken tenders seem a little more elegant.

Breaded Chicken Tenders Italian-style

1 pkg of fresh chicken tenders, rinsed and patted dry
2-3 tbs olive oil

Breading mix

2 cups of unseasoned bread crumbs
1/4 cup of grated Romano cheese
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tbs dried basil
1 tbs dried parsley
1/2 tbs dried oregano
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 1/2 tsp salt

Mix ingredients together and place in a shallow dish for dredging.

Egg wash

3 eggs beaten
1/2 cup of milk

whisk to together well and place in a shallow dish for dredging.

Coat a chicken tender in the egg wash, then transfer to the breading and coat thoroughly; place breaded tender on a clean, dry dish in preparation for frying. When all the chicken has been breaded, heat 1 -2 tbs of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat (reserve the other tbs for adding as you continue to fry the tenders); place 5-6 tenders in the pan and fry for 3-4 min. per side, they should be golden brown; when done, place on a clean oven safe dish and place in your oven on the lowest setting for baking -- let them rest in the oven while you continue to fry the next batch of tenders.

Yellow Squash with Sweet Onions & Vinegar

2 med yellow squash
1 large sweet onion
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tbs olive oil
1 tsp Kosher salt
1 tbs red wine vinegar

Prepare the yellow squash by washing and cutting into 1/2 in rings; slice onions in rings, place oil in a skillet over med/high heat and place squash, onions, garlic and salt in the pan, cook for about 5-7 min and stir frequently -- you don't want the onions or the squash to brown; reduce heat to med and allow to cook for another 5 min. -- squash should be tender and onions should be transluscent; add vinegar and simmer for another minute or so.

Haricot Vert Green Beans

Place the contents of the 1 lb bag of frozen beans in a sauce pot with about 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil and allow to cook for 4 - 5 min. The color should remain a vivid green -- DO NOT over cook. Season with some Kosher salt to taste and a little olive oil. Nothing special, just simple and delicious.

The Stats:

6 out of 6 ate this meal, all 6 at least tasted the yellow squash.

If you want your kids to really savor their chicken tenders, there is no substitute for homemade. Chicken tenders anywhere but made from scratch are just over breaded, frozen pressed-chicken pops (that's not to say I don't offer them in a pinch or purchase them, oddly, as a treat at the drive-through). This meal is light, easy and everyone will eat it.

The Verdict:

This meal is a keeper. Serve with a glass of Chardonnay and enjoy -- of course, the kids should get apple juice!

You'd be surprised how quickly you can bread and fry your own tenders. The kids love it and any left over Italian-style chicken tenders make a wonderful Chicken Parmesan the next day. It's great to fry up a bunch and use them in several different recipes throughout the week.

Play with the way you season the bread crumbs: add some cayenne, cumin and cilantro to make them have a more Mexican flair. Or, use ginger and dried mustard in the crumbs, a little soy in the egg wash and fry the tenders in sesame oil for an Asian twist.



Remember: Blessed are you who are now hungry, for you will be satisfied. (Lk 6:21)

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