Delicious fried chicken – there’s nothing like it! This is my take on the Chick Fil A little chicken bites. I made these a while back when I was still at Williams Sonoma, and they were a big hit. This would be a great dish to take to a Superbowl party, or to make for kiddos if you have those. Andy and I spent some time over the holiday’s with his nephew, and that kid won’t eat anything except chicken tenders. It’s bananas. At least if you make them yourself, you can be sure you’re leaving out peanut oil and using good ingredients. Get a little honey mustard and some ketchup and you’re in business!
So a bit about frying: frying is actually a dry heat method of cooking, meaning the heat of the oil actually swirls around the food to cook it rather that going inside of it like boiling. I like to use vegetable or canola oil, as they have high smoke points and are a little better for you than peanut oil. Never, ever, ever fry something in olive oil – at least not anything like this. The smoke point is far too low and you will just wind up with black and burned food.
A couple of other tips: invest in a screen that you can put over your pan when you’re frying. Nothing sucks more than having oil pop up and get you on the face. Also, as soon as you take the chicken out of the pan, put it on a paper towel lined plate. Then sprinkle a little kosher salt on it. The paper and the salt act to soak up any oil that is left on the outside of the chicken. This goes for anything you fry, btw.
I use the thin cut chicken breasts that you can find at most grocery stores now, simply because they are smaller and cook more quickly. This helps them to not get overly browned when frying. Also, definitely make sure that you cut the pieces very evenly. If you have some 1 inch pieces and some 3 inch pieces, they’re not going to cook at the same rate. That’s pretty much a rule of thumb for any cooking, and why knife skills are ever so important.
1 package of thin cut chicken breasts, cut into 1″ to 2″ pieces
1 C buttermilk
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp dried sage
1/2 tsp dried thyme
2 tsp kosher salt
2 cups flour
1 T paprika
1 T thyme (fresh or dried)
Salt & Pepper
Oil for frying
In a large bowl, mix together the garlic powder, salt, sage, thyme. Add the lemon juice and buttermilk and stir to combine. Put the chicken pieces in the buttermilk mixture and let set 45 min to 1 hour.
Prepare your fry: pour the oil into a large frying pan and heat over medium heat. You should have about 1″ of oil in the pan.
Meanwhile, set up your assembly line. In one dish should be the three eggs, thoroughly whisked. Then mix the flour, paprika, thyme, salt and pepper in the last one. Carefully dip the chicken from the buttermilk into the eggs, then into the flour. Toss them in the flour and then into the oil, making sure it’s hot enough. To test it, toss a little flour in. If it sizzles, your oil is ready. The chicken should start sizzling when it hits the pan. Let it cook about 1 minute, then flip it over. Once the outside is a nice golden brown, remove it to the plate with the paper towel. Sprinkle a tiny bit of kosher salt on, and enjoy!