Saturday, March 22, 2014

Fried Chicken Tenders and a Buttermilk Smoothie

Buttermilk Smoothie
This one is 1 cup buttermilk, ½ banana, ½ cup blueberries (fresh or frozen), ¼ teaspoon vanilla, 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon.  Puree in the blender and enjoy.  This is a pure and simple way to get buttermilk, a fermented food into your digestive system today. 

Recipes using buttermilk, especially cake recipes, often use just a ½ or ¾ of a cup yet buttermilk is most often sold in quart containers.  Having a few easy recipes like a smoothie or Buttermilk Fried Chicken Tenders to use up this valuable food item will make buttermilk a more frequent staple in your refrigerator. 

Using chicken tenders is what makes this buttermilk fried chicken dinner easy to make.  The thin strips of chicken brown quickly. Placing the fried tenders in the oven to finish also keeps the fuss to a minimum.  Serve the chicken over a salad of sturdy lettuce like iceberg or romaine.  Drizzle with buttermilk dressing (recipe below).

If you have the time, prep the buttermilk marinade  .a few hours ahead and let the chicken strips soak and tenderize.   When you are ready to cook, you can start at the flour dredging stage.  If you have less time, let the pieces soak for about 15 minutes before flouring. 

Buttermilk Fried Chicken Tenders
Serves 4
1 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons hot sauce*
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
Optional: dash or two of cayenne pepper
1 1/2 pounds chicken tenders (or boneless chicken breasts cut into strips)
1 cup flour
¼ cup corn starch
¼ teaspoon each salt, pepper, paprika
½  cup canola or grape seed oil for frying

*These are spicy.  If you want a less hot version, omit the hot sauce and use ½ teaspoon each paprika and dried dill weed.

  1. In a re-sealable plastic bag,  mix together buttermilk, hot sauce, salt, black pepper and cayenne, if using.  Place chicken tenders in bag and refrigerated at least 15 minutes, preferably a few hours.  
  2. When ready to cook, preheat oven to 400˚F degrees.  
  3. Mix together in a shallow bowl the flour, corn starch salt, pepper and paprika.  
  4. Turn on the stove’s exhaust fan.  Pour the oil into a deep skillet and heat on medium-high until it reaches 375˚K.   
  5. Dip 5-6 soaked chicken tenders in flour mixture and carefully lay in hot oil.  Do not crowd your pan (a pound and a half of tenders should take 3-4 batches).  
  6. Turn chicken tenders after 2 minutes or when lightly browned.  Fry another 2 minutes and place on a baking sheet.  
  7. Put baking sheet in the oven while you fry the next batch.   Bake chicken in oven about 6-8 minutes, until it reaches an internal temperature of 165˚F.  
Serve over a chopped salad.  Drizzle with buttermilk dressing.

Buttermilk-soaked chicken can be grilled or baked too.  Just wipe away some of the marinade and cook as your recipe directs

Pure Buttermilk Salad Dressing

This dressing uses fresh herbs for a bright taste.  If you are using dried herbs, measure 1/3 the amount (1 teaspoon dried for every 1 tablespoon fresh) and be sure to allow the mixture to rest at least ½ hour for the dried herbs to hydrate and flavor the dressing.

½ cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
juice of ½ lemon
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
¼ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

More Buttermilk Ideas
The easiest ways to use up buttermilk is to swap it for milk in recipes:

Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes

Substitute all or half the milk in mashed potatoes with buttermilk. Or use half buttermilk and ½ low sodium canned chicken broth. 

Buttermilk Biscuits
Swap out all or part of the milk in any mix or recipe from scratch for biscuits.  This works for any fruit cobbler recipe too. 

Buttermilk Pancakes
Again, you can use buttermilk for all or part of the milk.