Sunday, March 21, 2010

Pretzel-Pecan Crusted Chicken Tenders

Our springtime celebration was such a fun day...we felt like kids who hadn't been able to play outside in forever. It seemed appropriate to have a comforting kid-friendly supper that would take us back to childhood.

It's always my mission to make a healthier version of the guilty pleasures we love. I haven't actually eaten fried chicken in many years...can't even really remember the last time now that I think about it...but with the way I make chicken tenders, I haven't wanted to one bit.

What makes fried chicken Oh-so-bad for you is that it's...well...fried.

And also coated with breading so its nice and crispy. With both of these elements subtracted, my chicken tenders are pretty guilt free. But O.M.G. they are SO stinkin good.

The most obvious alternative to deep frying was to just crisp up the outside in a skillet with a little bit of extra virgin olive oil (the GOOD fat). But figuring out the breading took a little more thought. Over a few years...its now perfect. The combination of pecans and pretzels gives a just-right crunchy coating.

We had our chicken tenders with homemade mac-n-cheese, creamy mixed veggies, and dinner rolls. We took a ride for icecream later and I was still raving, "O ma gah that was so good." Sean said, "Well, if you do say so yourself!"

Ha. I couldn't help it. I didn't invent the concept...just tinkered with it til I liked it. And I like it ALOT.

Pretzel-Pecan Crusted Chicken Tenders

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (if cooking for 2) or enough tenders for the people you're serving
  • 1 1/2 cups pecans
  • 1 1/2 cups pretzels
  • About 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/2 tsp dried Parsley
  • 1/2 tsp Garlic Salt
  • Pepper
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 3/4 tsp Fried Chicken Seasoning (McCormick makes, I know, but whatever brand you find)

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

In food processor, grind pecans and pretzels until a fine crumb consistency.



*You can crush with a rolling pin in a ziplock bag if you don't have a processor.*

Add spices and toss. Start an assembly line with a bowl of milk, a shallow dish of breading, and a large skillet with just enough olive oil to coat pan. Turn to Medium heat.

Because the next steps involved messy hands, no pics were taken. :)

Place 7-8 tenders into milk, toss in breading until coated, then place into heated skillet.

Cook for about 4-5 minutes per side then place onto baking dish. Continue until all tenders have cooked in skillet.

Bake for about 10 minutes, just to ensure they are cooked through. Pierce one of the largest tenders with a knife to make sure there is no pink inside. I served mine with honey mustard (equal parts yellow mustard, miracle whip, and honey)

Trust me, I'll never make fried chicken when I can make these. They're delicious!

I even came out with one shaped like a chicken leg:)


The sides need no step-by-step. Simple mac-n-cheese with macaroni pasta, sharp cheddar cheese, milk, butter, salt and pepper. Creamy mixed veggies with a bag of frozen mixed vegetables, cooked and salted, then mixed with a can of cream of mushroom and topped with french fried onions. (Kind of like green bean casserole but with lots of veggies.)

We had my FAVE rolls ever. You won't believe what they are. I get them from the bakery bread section of Walmart and they are typically $2.50. This time, they came from the "Oops, we baked too much" cart so they were $1.50.
They're called "Yeasty Dinner Rolls" and they are amazing. You just dab with a little butter on top and microwave for 10 seconds, or stick in the oven to warm after everything has cooked.

I hope you'll try these chicken tenders...they're worth it.

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