I spent a good part of my early twenties living, studying and working in South Carolina. It was there, in the Deep South, that my love for proper fried chicken was born. I realised within 24 hours of arriving in the state capital for the first time that I had never really eaten fried chicken. What I had eaten for years in the UK had just been breaded chicken, which often lacked flavour and crunch. Here in the southern states however, fried chicken was not only the real deal but a way of life.
The official food of my University football team was a regional fast food restaurant’s signature deep fried chicken sandwich, which they would pass out by the thousand to students during games. While my arteries may not have been enjoying themselves that much, my taste buds were having a permanent party and every moment of it was fantastic.
Ever since coming back home, I’ve been working on recreating this southern staple with a healthier twist. I do not often trust myself with a deep fryer and that is just as well because these chicken tenders I make are baked in the oven, instantly making them a lighter choice. I hope you enjoy them as either a meal, an appetiser or simply because you want to snack on them. Dig in y’all!
Baked Garlic Chicken Tenders
320-360g Chicken (pre-cut supermarket mini chicken breast fillets are a great time-saver)
3 x Large eggs
2 x Cups gluten free flour
2 x Cups gluten free breadcrumbs
1 x Teaspoon garlic powder
1 x Teaspoon minced garlic
1 x Teaspoon dried parsley
1 x Teaspoon dried chives
2 x Tablespoons finely grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and Pepper
Vegetable Oil of Choice
Freshly Chopped Chives (to garnish)
Garlic Mayonnaise or Ranch Dressing for dipping
1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius and line a large baking tray with parchment paper.
2. Prepare your “dipping stations”. Place beaten eggs in a shallow bowl, gluten free flour in a second and the breadcrumbs in a third.
3. Season the egg mixture with the garlic powder and salt and stir.
4. Add the parmesan cheese, minced garlic and pepper to the breadcrumbs and mix.
5. If your chicken is not pre-chopped, cut into strips with a width of around 1 1/2 – 2 inches wide.
6. Using a fork, start dipping your chicken strips by placing each tender into the egg. When the tender is well covered in egg mix, dip in the flour, ensuring a good dusting all-around the tender (this is easiest, and less messy, if you hold the tender on a fork and use an additional fork to pile the flour onto each tender).
7. After the flour, pass the tender lightly through the egg mix once more and then into the breadcrumb mix, again ensuring the entire tender has a good coating. Top up dipping bowls as required, although the measurements above should be enough to cover the specified amount of chicken.
8. Place each tender on the lined baking sheet, leaving at least a centimetre between each piece.
9. Pour a light drizzle of a vegetable oil of your choice over the tenders before baking.
10. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown, turning the chicken tenders over gently with a fork or thin knife half way through cooking, making sure to do this slowly so breadcrumbs do not fall off in the process.
11. Sprinkle with freshly chopped chives before serving with a dipping sauce of your choice.