Gluten-Free Chicken Tenders
My gluten-free friends and readers have two words to describe packaged GF chicken nuggets and tenders: mushy and weird! Since I have never had to eat this way myself, I decided to do a little taste-testing among the packaged GF chicken available in my markets. I have to admit, I couldn’t even finish a single nugget! They were, indeed, strange tasting and the texture was just plain off. Here is the sneaky version of a GF tender, proclaimed by my GF tasters as “crispy and delicious.”
Makes 4 Servings
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken tenders (or boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cornstarch
2 large eggs
1/4 cup Orange Puree (see Make-Ahead Orange Recipe)
2 cups GF Better Breading (see below)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Olive oil for pan frying method
Season chicken tenders with salt. Place corn starch in a shallow dish or on a plate. Beat eggs with Orange Puree in shallow bowl and place next to the flour. In a third shallow dish or on a paper plate, combine the GF Better Breading with the Parmesan cheese.
Dredge each piece of chicken in the corn starch, shaking off excess, then the egg mixture, and then the GF Better Breading mixture. Press the breading evenly onto both sides of the chicken. Put on wax or parchment paper and store in the refrigerator for cooking tomorrow or proceed to cook immediately.
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking. Add a few strips at a time, pan frying on one side until the crumbs look golden, about 2 to 3 minutes. Watch for burning, and turn down heat if necessary. With tongs, turn the pieces over and lightly brown the second side until golden, about 3 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and continue heating chicken until cooked through, about another 10 minutes. Blot cooked tenders on paper towels to remove excess oil.
Oven-bake method (not as brown and crisp, but quicker):
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place breaded tenders on a lightly sprayed cookie sheet and bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Turn chicken tenders over once with tongs, then return to oven for another 10 to 12 minutes until cooked through.
Gluten Free Better Breading
1 cup almonds, slivered and blanched (optional; omit if allergic)
1 1/2 cups rice krispies
1/2 cup cornmeal
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
Pulse the almonds in food processor. Don’t let the food processor run continually or you’ll end up with nut butter. Pour the ground almonds into a plastic bag, and then add the bread crumbs, wheat germ, and salt. Seal and refrigerate up to 2 weeks.
*Sneaky Tip: Whole wheat bread crumbs can be found in natural and organic food stores, but you can easily make your own by pulsing whole grain bread in a food processor to achieve fine crumbs. It’s that simple. Three slices of bread yield about one cup of fresh crumbs. They keep for weeks in a sealed bag in the freezer.