Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Nubby Fried Chicken Planks

Nubby Fried Chicken Planks - a grown up version of chicken tenders, served here with a homemade chicken gravy, quick fix green beans and a garden salad.
Nubby Fried Chicken Planks - a grown up version of chicken tenders, served here with a homemade chicken gravy, quick fix green beans and a garden salad.

Fried Chicken Planks

What are chicken planks you ask? Well, they are simply chicken tenders for adults!

Seriously though, they are chicken tenders that are pounded thinner, which makes them more appropriate for a fancier fried chicken platform, such as those amazing restaurant copycat recipes, and they cook much faster than traditional chicken breasts, which are typically, well... in my humble opinion, otherwise tasteless! Because planks cook faster, they stay tender and delicious, and no brining is necessary. Yay!

Boneless, skinless chicken breasts are my least favorite piece of chicken, but want to know why, when you go to a restaurant and order a boneless, skinless chicken based dish, the chicken is always so tender and flavorful, but your's at home is always tasteless and dry? Here's how to do it. I trim down these voluptuous chicken breasts.

The first thing to do is cut off the tenderloin - oh and see this knife? Best. Knives. Ever. {affil links} and they are American made, start to finish. Nice and sharp, lightweight, and not too expensive, they're made by Rada Cutlery. Click the link to check them out and get the tomato knife for sure - tomato season is right around the corner y'all!

Flip the breast over and you'll be able to locate where to cut the tenderloin based on where the seam is. See that seam that runs lengthwise?

Trim that away. That's the tenderloin. See the fatter section of the breast and that big hump? You don't see humps on your restaurant chicken do you? Of course not!

I trim just that thick part away from the main breast. Chefs call that the cheek.

So now you have the tenderloin, the cheek, and the remaining breast, which I cut on the diagonal, into three strips. These are all now tenders, so you've gotten at least five pieces of tenders, out of one breast, which when making tenders, you can actually take even further, by slicing these remaining pieces lengthwise. We're making planks though, so this is as far as we'll take them.

Now the seasoning and here's my basic blend again! I use this, give or take a few things, on most of my chicken recipes - salt, pepper, paprika, onion and garlic powder, and Cajun seasoning are the base ingredients.

{Hissy fit warning} Now, I'm gonna throw a little southern style hissy fit here, because well... it's been awhile, so here goes. I get criticized on Facebook occasionally, and generally speaking, rudely I might add (imagine that) that I "use Cajun seasoning on everything" to which I respond, "well, yes, I pretty much do!"

Now these are usually the same folks who will liberally douse some kind of all-purpose seasoning salt on everything they make without a thought, so to that I say, yes, it is true.

We use Cajun (or Creole) seasoning a lot down here where I'm from. And we pretty much add a little, to a lot of it, to, well... everything.

Well, except for desserts, though we've been known to contribute a little cayenne pepper to things like pralines. So there you have it. Yes, we use Cajun seasoning in the Deep South. It's our all-purpose seasoning. {tucking away soapbox}

Anyway, it's much easier to season the chicken more evenly, if you blend all of the seasonings together first, then sprinkle them on.

After trimming down and seasoning the breasts, I like to follow that using my Deni tenderizer{affil link} This both flattens them and gets the seasoning right down into the chicken. If you don't happen to own one, no worries. You can also gently use a meat mallet {affil link} as well, though notice I say "gently." You don't want to pulverize the chicken! After that, refrigerate the planks for about 30 minutes to let the seasonings get to know the chicken.

Breading anything is way easier if you set up stations, one for wet, one (and sometimes two) for dry, and remember, it's also way easier if you use one hand for wet, one hand for dry, unless you're a food blogger and you have to wash in between to take pictures anyway! I like to use pie plates. For the dredge, beat eggs with 1/4 cup of the buttermilk in one plate.

You'll notice that in this case, our dry is actually a little wet. This is why I call this "nubby" fried chicken, and it's a method made known by America's Test Kitchen a few years back. It creates those crunchy little nubs of flour on the finished product, without the double-dipping that effectively makes for a too heavier coating to chicken ratio. Mix the flour with remaining 1/4 cup buttermilk until the flour is mostly dry, but still nubby. Make adjustments if you need to.

Here's how it goes. Dip the seasoned chicken pieces in egg, coating it all over, but letting the excess drip off. Then, dredge in the flour mixture.

Be sure to firmly press the flour into the pieces of chicken so that both the flour and the nubs stick to the chicken. See how it's "shaggy," sort of like it is when you make biscuits? Transfer the pieces to a plate in one layer as you coat them.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Throw a pinch of the leftover flour mixture in there to see if it sizzles. Fry the chicken in batches to avoid crowding the skillet, turning once, until golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes per side. That's right. It's fast! (P.S. I would certainly have used my deep fryer if I had remembered to clean it the last time I used it, but that's another story...)

Drain chicken on paper towels, changing them out as needed so that your chicken doesn't get soggy, then transfer to a plate. This platter is actually short a few planks because I saved some of the seasoned pieces to grill another day.

Save the dipping sauces for the kids and their chicken tenders, because these chicken planks are Sunday dinner worthy and deserve a nice, chicken gravy!

I would have also served mine with homemade mashed potatoes, but we just had some buttered parslied potatoes the day before and well... I've been a little too generous with the fried foods here lately, so I thought it better to counter the carbs with a salad and some quick fix green beans instead.

Grab more of my fried chicken recipes from Pinterest!

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