Despite what you may have heard…..Chicken Tenders aren’t just for kiddie menus.
Though, in an effort for full disclosure, I have been known to order off the kiddie menus at certain dining establishments. Heck, depending on the spot, the portions sizes are perfect for me—-and at a fraction of the cost.
I, apparently, have no shame.
But back to the Tenders…..
Now, I’m not sure if I’ve said this before but when it comes to poultry, I’m a dark meat kind of gal. I find that there’s more flavor to dark meat and it retains much more moisture when cooked. But of course, white meat is considered the “healthier” portions of the bird and often times, can be cooked in a shorter time frame.
For a fast meal, I often pick up packages of Chicken Tenders to throw in recipes. Though they technically are a part of the chicken breast, I find them easier to use and quick to cook with.
So when I got a hankering for some crispy, fried chicken this past weekend (one of my vices), I opted for a “healthier” alternative by baking instead of frying up some chicken. Using the method from Americas Test Kitchen, I took a bunch of defrosted chicken tenders, rolled them in Parmesan cheese and pan-toasted panko crumbs and got deliciously crunchy Chicken Tenders. They were golden brown, wonderfully crispy, not the least bit dry, and kind of fun!
And before anyone busts my chops for throwing in cheese to a recipe when I was trying to go healthy—-allow me to say, MY KITCHEN, MY RULES! Though…..at least I had a salad to go along with it.
Oven-Baked Parmesan Chicken Tenders
2 Cups Panko Breadcrumbs
2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
½ Cup Parmesan Cheese, finely grated
2 Tablespoons All Purpose Flour
1 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
½ Teaspoon Kosher salt
¼ Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
3 Large Egg Whites
1 Tablespoon Water
1 Teaspoon Minced Fresh Thyme
1½ lbs. Boneless, Skinless Chicken Tenders (or skinless breasts cut into strips)
Kosher Salt and Black Pepper
Preheat the oven to 475˚ F. In a large skillet, toss the panko with the oil. Toast over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 8-10 minutes. Transfer the toasted crumbs to a shallow dish or pie plate.
In a second shallow dish, whisk together the parmesan cheese, flour, garlic powder, salt, and cayenne pepper. In a bowl, whisk together the egg whites, water, and thyme. Heavily season the chicken with salt and pepper.
Spray a wire rack lightly with cooking spray and place over a rimmed baking sheet. Working in batches, dredge a few pieces of the chicken in the cheese/flour mixture, then the egg whites, and finally the breadcrumbs to coat, shaking off the excess between each step. Lay the coated pieces on the prepared wire rack and repeat with the remaining chicken.
Spray the tops of the chicken pieces lightly with the cooking spray. Bake until the chicken is cooked through, 15 minutes. Flip the chicken halfway through the cooking time and lightly spray the tops with cooking spray before returning to the oven. Serve with a squeeze of fresh lemon or dipping sauce of your choice.