Friday, April 4, 2014

Juicy Brined Chicken Tenders



Now that spring has arrived and summer is around the corner, fried chicken recipes are popping up everywhere you look. I don't know why it is, but fried chicken seems to be a seasonal favorite. Maybe it is because it reminds us of picnics and lazy Sunday afternoons, but whatever the reason, all this talk has made me fried chicken hungry.

For years I was part of the "no brine" camp of poultry cooks. I just really didn't see the need of making a big deal out of frying a chicken or roasting a turkey, then I tried it and found out that what they say is true. This extra step elevates poultry (and pork) from good to glorious. All you need to do is mix a few simple ingredients together and give it all a little time to do its magic. Oh yeah, you might need to make some room in your refrigerator too.

This brine recipe is good for boneless or bone in chicken and pork chops of any size or thickness. Your meat will not only be moist and tender after cooking, but it will also have flavor all the way through. The only thing I have to say about pork is, if your chops are thick it is probably best to bake or grill them and leave off the breading which could come out soggy because of all the moisture.



Juicy Brined Chicken Tenders

These are delicious served with Louisiana hot sauce and blue cheese, barbecue sauce and ranch dressing or just plain old honey, but you can't go wrong serving them with a pile of crispy waffles and lots of warm syrup. This is the stuff that legendary Easter buffets are made of.

1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons lightly packed light brown sugar
1 large garlic clove crushed
3 cups water
2 pounds chicken breast, cut into strips
2 cups all-purpose flour
Oil for frying

Place salt, brown sugar and garlic in the bottom of a medium size, deep bowl. Add the water and stir until the salt and sugar are dissolved. Add the chicken strips (brine should cover the chicken); cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, but preferably overnight.

When you are ready to cook, drain brine from chicken. Pour flour onto a large plate. Dredge the chicken strips through flour; mounding on a second plate as you do; set aside.

Pour enough oil into a large frying pan that it is about 1" deep.  Heat over medium high heat until the oil is hot and shimmering.

If chicken breading has gotten a little sticky from the moisture while sitting, dredge through flour once again. Place one chicken strip into the hot oil. If the oil is ready it will immediately sizzle. Place several strips into the hot oil, being careful not to overcrowd. Fry for approximately 8 minutes on one side or until strips are golden brown. Turn and cook for an additional 4 - 5 minutes on the other side. Transfer to a rack set over a cookie sheet or baking pan to drain. Serve immediately.

Serves 4 - 6


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