|Un-fried Crispy Chicken Tenders|
What IS it about chicken tenders that makes them a perennial favorite with children and, secretly, a perennial favorite with adults?
Chicken tenders have always been one of my pick-me-up foods, a soothing choice when I'm flailing in a world of chaos...or near a fryer. There is something so reliable and innately appealing about chicken tenders—I wonder if our proclivity is a "which came first, the chicken or the egg" of the highest and most literal order?
I think what I reference is simply the human instinct for protein + fat, perfectly packaged in a hot oily, golden brown tender or "finger" as the case may be. So, how to achieve this bliss without the poisonous backlash of trans-fat vegetable oils and refined breading?!
Pecans and coconut flakes to the rescue!!! Pulsing these natural foods, which contain ample heart-healthy fats, into a "crumble" achieves a rich, flavorful coating for my chicken tenders that checks all the right boxes. I add a touch of extra flavor with onion powder and smoked paprika (worship them both), but if you're making these for picky kidlets, you can certainly leave them out. You could also completely replace the coconut flakes with more pecans or another nuts if it's not your jam, but it won't have the same crispiness.
Nashville has been bombarded with every kind of cold precipitation imaginable, and these healthy tenders have been a welcome treat hot out of the oven and smothered in sauce. My fiancé prefers ketchup, I prefer a DIY honey mustard (1 tablespoon dijon plus 1 teaspoon honey). However you like them, they will be an instant crowd-pleaser in your house!