There’s a lot of chopping and breading and frying involved with this recipe, given to us by Scott Youkilis of San Francisco’s Maverick restaurant, but we found the results to be well worth it.
The tender is the tubular, rich-tasting inner muscle found just under the chicken’s breast. Tenders are often found in packages, but regular boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced into fingers, are a suitable substitute.
Panko is coarse Japanese-style breadcrumbs, available in many grocery stores.
Game plan: This recipe is great to make if you’re hosting a potluck. You can fry the chicken tenders in batches as you need them, for maximum crispness. If you’re transporting the food, just allow the fried chicken tenders to cool uncovered, and then reheat them in a 350°F oven and toss with the sauce.
- Yield: 8 to 12 servings
- Difficulty: Easy
- Total: 2 hrs
- Active: 2 hrs
For the coleslaw:
- 6 medium celery stalks, trimmed
- 4 medium carrots, peeled and trimmed
- 1/2 medium head green cabbage
- 3 medium shallots, peeled, halved, and thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 3/4 cup mayonnaise
- 1 cup crumbled blue cheese
For the chicken tenders:
- 4 pounds chicken tenders or boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 4 cups panko (Japanese-style breadcrumbs)
- 1/4 cup finely chopped Italian parsley
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 6 large eggs, lightly beaten
- Peanut oil for frying
- 1 1/2 to 2 cups Youk’s Hot Sauce or Frank’s RedHot
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/2 stick)
For the coleslaw:
- Slice each celery stalk in half, then slice celery very thinly on the bias at a slight angle; you should have about 3 cups.
- Fit a mandoline or Benriner slicer with a medium-toothed (about 1/8-inch) shredding blade. Cut carrots in half and shred them; you should have about 4 1/2 cups. (If you don’t have a mandoline, you can use a food processor fitted with the shredding attachment or a sharp knife to cut carrots into halves or thirds depending on their length, square off the sides, and then cut them into matchstick-size pieces.)
- Cut a v-shaped notch into the cabbage half on either side of the core to remove it, then cut the cabbage in half again lengthwise. Slice cabbage pieces very thinly crosswise. Combine celery, carrots, cabbage, and shallots in a very large nonreactive mixing bowl or pot and set aside.
- In another nonreactive bowl, combine vinegar, mayonnaise, and blue cheese and mix well. Season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add dressing to vegetables and mix until evenly coated. Cover and let marinate, refrigerated, for at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours.
For the chicken tenders:
- Heat the oven to 200°F. If using chicken breasts, cut them on the bias into 1-1/2-inch-wide strips.
- In a large bowl, combine breadcrumbs and chopped parsley. Place flour, beaten eggs, and breadcrumb mixture in three separate shallow bowls (cake pans or pie plates work well). Coat 6 or 7 chicken tenders with flour. Tap off any excess, then dip in the egg, then the breadcrumbs, being sure to get an even coating. Place breaded chicken on a large plate or baking sheet. Repeat for all the strips.
- Heat a large frying pan over medium-high heat and fill the bottom of the pan with a 1/2 inch of peanut oil. (As you fry, add oil as needed to maintain the 1/2-inch depth.) Heat oil to 350°F.
- Add 6 chicken strips to the hot oil and cook until nicely browned on 1 side, about 3 1/2 minutes. Use a slotted spatula or tongs to carefully turn the strips and allow to finish cooking, 2 to 3 minutes more. Remove chicken from the pan and place on a baking sheet (preferably lined with a cooling rack); season immediately with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Repeat for all strips. Keep finished chicken tenders in the oven turned to low to keep warm and crisp. Do not stack on top of each other, or they will lose their crunch.
- Combine hot sauce and butter in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until butter is completely melted.
- When ready to serve, put chicken tenders in a large bowl and pour the sauce over them. Toss and serve immediately with the coleslaw.
Beverage pairing: Kühl Riesling, Germany. A challenging set of flavors—salty, pungent, sharp, hot—requires a wine that quietly abides in the background. With a name that translates as “cool,” this modest German Riesling does the job, delivering bright fruit and acid to balance the cheese and vinegar, while finishing with a touch of sweetness to tame the heat.