Let’s be honest: nothing has a fried food’s crunch and depth of flavor. For many years I have had to abstain from most fried foods because they are usually soaked in buttermilk or cream and then coated with gluten packed breadcrumbs or flour. At first this was a painful and frustrating abstinence, but as the years went on and the cravings were confronted, I learned to live without the sweet crunch of fried calamari or the tender give and crunchy tenderness of fried chicken and fish.
Sometimes in life we need to indulge in comfort foods that are just enjoyed for their shear pleasure and ignore the potential health consequences so that we are here and now with the experience of life at that point in time. That said, there are healthy oils and ways of preparing our fried food that matter and can make the difference between a slightly indulgent meal and an all out “I don’t give a shit about my body fest.”The oil you use matters, and I recommend you use organic oils, preferably sunflower and grape seed. If you coat your chicken in healthy and aromatic almond flour, then you also mitigate the vacuous health desert land of most flours that are used to fry with. Besides, what can be more indulgently beautiful than enjoying the crispiness of a chicken tender, feeling the steam rise from your mouth to your nose, and only needing to gently chew on the tenderness of a perfectly cooked piece of breast.
1.3-1.5 pounds of organic chicken tenders
Almond Meal Mixture
2.5 cups almond meal
1 tsp. teaspoon smoky paprika
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon ground sage
½ teaspoon salt, and to taste
¼ tsp. red pepper flakes, crushed
Aromatic Egg Wash
1 tablespoon almond milk
1 tablespoon mustard
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
½ teaspoon smoky paprika
pinch of salt
-Wisk all of these ingredients together
For frying: Organic sunflower oil or grape seed oil (enough to submerge the chicken tenders— approximately 16 ounces)
1. Rinse and dry the chicken fingers and slowly begin to heat the oil on medium heat.
2. Place the chicken in the aromatic egg wash while you mix the dry ingredients.
3. Roll the chicken in the almond meal mixture until evenly coated and set aside on a dry plate.
4. Check the oil for heat—after about 5-7 minutes on medium heat the oil should be hot enough so that if you throw in a kernel of batter into the oil it will float to the top as a sizzling buoy. Of course, you could also use a thermometer and aim for 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
5. If the oil needs to heat, continue to let it, but if it is ready for the chicken, carefully float the chicken tenders in the hot oil.
6. Cook the tenders for 7-9 minutes in the hot oil. Be sure to turn then after about 4 minutes of cooking so that they evenly brown.
7. When you pull the tenders from the oil, place them on a few layers of either parchment paper or brown paper towels to rest and let the excess grease drain away. This should take about 7-8 minutes (if you can, I recommend avoiding bleached paper towels or parchment paper due to the possible health concerns).
8. Place the tenders on a plate and garnish with fresh chopped chive, basil, or parsley. Dip the tenders in the Meyer Lemon Aioli or Salsa Verde from The Blog at this site or try dipping them in a mustard sauce loosened with extra virgin olive oil.