Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Ten Minute Meal: Chicken Tenders with Mustard Sauce

A friend emailed that she wanted an easy-to-make dinner for her kids. Nothing fancy, difficult or time consuming. I suggested chicken tenders. Kids know them because they're served at most fast food restaurants where they are 'healthier' than some of the alternatives but all too often they taste like cardboard. When you make them at home, they can be both healthy and good tasting.

The difference is the breading. Traditional breading uses milk and flour (batter) which bulks up the chicken. Using seasoned olive oil and breadcrumbs creates a lighter, crunchier tender with fewer calories. The mustard sauce adds several layers of flavor with very little effort. Just so you know, after our friend ate the tenders with her kids, she proclaimed them good enough to serve to adults.

Mustard Sauce

Make the sauce first because once the tenders are cooked, you'll want to serve them immediately. The sauce can be prepared ahead and will keep in the refrigerator for several days.

1/2 cup chicken stock
1 tablespoon mustard (use any kind you like)
1 teaspoon sweet butter
1/4 teaspoon black pepper (optional)

Put all the ingredients in a small saucepan on a low simmer until reduced by half. Serve warm.

Lo-Cal Chicken Tenders

Chicken tenders can be purchased from the supermarket although they're pricey. If you have a couple of minutes, buy the full breasts at half the price and cut them into the 'tender' shape of about 1/2" wide, 1/4" thick, and 2" long.

1 1/2 pounds chicken tenders, washed, pat dried
1 cup bread crumbs, unflavored, preferably homemade
1 tablespoon Italian parsley, washed, leaves only, finely chopped (optional)
2 tablespoons olive oil
Sea salt and pepper

Pour the olive oil onto one plate and season with sea salt and pepper. For color, mix the parsley together with the breadcrumbs, if your kids will eat 'green things'. Spread the bread crumbs on a second plate. Dredge each chicken tender through the seasoned olive oil, then through the bread crumbs and coat well. Sauté the tenders on a medium flame with olive oil until browned on all sides, about 2-3 minutes on each side.

Serve with a salad or a cooked green like broccoli or spinach and the warm mustard sauce on the side. For adults garnish with the mustard sauce and thinly sliced scallions.

Serves 4. Preparation Time: 10 minutes. Cooking Time: 10 minutes.

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