Chicken Tenders with Buttermilk Ranch Dipping Sauce

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  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 2 hr 35 min (includes brining time)
  • Active: 35 min
  • Yield: 24 tenders
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Ingredients

Brine:

1 quart water

1/2 cup kosher salt

1/4 cup sugar

1 bay leaf

4 whole peeled garlic cloves

3/4 teaspoon whole black peppercorns

1/2 lemon

2 quarts ice cubes

1/2 cup buttermilk

1/4 cup pickle juice

Seasoned Flour:

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup cornstarch

1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder

1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder

1 teaspoon paprika

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, for seasoning

Egg Wash:

4 eggs, beaten

Panko Breading:

3 cups panko breadcrumbs

1 cup cornstarch

1 1/2 tablespoons dried oregano

1 1/2 tablespoons garlic powder

1 1/2 tablespoons onion powder

1 tablespoon paprika

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, for seasoning

Seasoning:

1/2 cup fajita seasoning

1 1/2 teaspoons garlic salt

1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder

1 tablespoon superfine sugar

1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Chicken Tenders:

24 chicken tenders (about 2 2/3 pounds), tendons removed

Canola oil, for deep frying

Buttermilk Ranch Dipping Sauce

Buttermilk Ranch Dipping Sauce:

1 cup mayonnaise

1/2 cup sour cream

1/2 cup buttermilk

3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill

2 teaspoons sugar

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

4 to 5 turns fresh ground black pepper

Pinch of cayenne pepper

Directions

Special equipment:
deep-fry thermometer
  1. Make the brine: Combine the water, salt, sugar, bay leaf, garlic, pepper and lemon in a large stock pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat and let simmer until fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes.
  2. When done, remove from the heat, add the ice cubes and stir until the liquid is chilled. Add the buttermilk and pickle juice. Stir well then pour enough brine over the chicken tenders in a large bowl to submerge them. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours.
  3. Make the seasoned flour: Combine the ingredients in a medium bowl and mix well.
  4. Make the panko breading: Take half of the panko breadcrumbs and pulse in a food processor until fine. Combine with the remaining ingredients in a medium bowl. Mix well and set aside.
  5. Make the seasoning: Combine the ingredients in a small bowl, mix well and set aside.
  6. Prepare the chicken tenders: Remove the chicken tenders from the brine and pat dry. Set up a breading station with the seasoned flour, egg wash and panko breading. Working with 1 or 2 tenders at a time, lightly coat in the seasoned flour, dip in the egg wash, then place in the panko breading. Cover the tender in the breading then firmly press the tender flat with your palm to an even 1/4 inch thick. Flip and press again as needed to achieve even thickness and breading.
  7. Preheat 3 to 4 inches of oil in a Dutch oven to 350 degrees F. Working in batches, fry the chicken tenders, turning occasionally, until golden brown all over and cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from the oil to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Season the tenders evenly all over with the seasoning and serve with the dipping sauce.

Buttermilk Ranch Dipping Sauce:

Yield: Makes about 2 cups
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together all of the ingredients until well combined and creamy in texture. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve, up to 5 days.