Chef Nikki is back with a brand new edition of Tallahassee Foodies Pro Feature! Each week, we’re having a new expert guest to show us “how they do what they do oh so well”, a lesson if you will! Lucky us, to have such talent amongst us willing to share their knowledge so that we can improve our own foodie skills. Don’t forget to subscribe to Nikki’s YouTube channel! She’s so close to 1K followers – let’s help her get there by hitting that subscribe button today! And now for Chef Nikki, sharing a recipe by my request, Sweet Tea Brined Chicken Tenders…
Osmosis, a Cook’s Secret Weapon
Have you ever wondered how to make the most juicy, mouthwatering fried chicken tenders? Well buckle in, Food Geeks, you’re fried chicken is about to go Pro.
Believe it or not, the secret to the most succulent fried chicken lies in the same technique that I use to make my Thanksgiving turkey every year! Behold, the power of the brine. Brining protein is a simple curing process of submerging your protein of choice into a solution of water, salt, sugar, and spices. In this case, our protein will be chicken breast tenders.
What happens on a scientific level is something called “osmosis”. The salt causes moisture to move through cell walls, equalizing the salinity on both sides of the cell wall. When this happens, more moisture is attracted to the cell thereby making a solution. It’s sort of like the protein makes its own internal marinade. How long a protein is brined depends on the size. For example, a full sized 20 pound turkey takes about 3 days to brine. The chicken tenders in the recipe I’m about to drop on you take only 24 hours to brine. So, now that you’ve learned my secret to making the best fried chicken on the planet, check out my recipe and video tutorial!
Sweet Tea Brined Chicken Fingers With A Maple Mustard Dipping Sauce
- 1 teabag
- 1 cup water
- 2 Tbsp sugar
- 1 Tbsp Pro Seasoning
- 2 chicken breasts cut into strips
- 3 cups ice
- 1 cup of mayo
- 2 Tablespoons maple syrup
- 3 teaspoons grainy mustard
- ¼ teaspoon or more if you like it spicey cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon Pro Seasoning
- 2 cups flour
- 3 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon Pro Seasoning
- 3 egg whites
- Oil for frying
- 4 cups peanut oil
For the brine:
- Boil one cup of water and steep tea bag in the water for about 5 minutes. Remove the bag and stir in the salt and Pro Seasoning. Make sure the sugar and seasoning are dissolved completely. Add 2-3 cups of ice to the solution to bring the solution to below 41 degrees (ice cold) before adding the chicken to the solution. Pour the brine into gallon sized plastic baggie. Add the chicken and brine for 24 hours.
For the dredge:
- In a large bowl, mix together flour, Pro Seasoning, and baking powder. In a medium bowl, whip the egg whites until foamy. Heat a fry daddy or large skillet heat peanut oil to 350 degrees (be careful, have a fire extinguisher handy, don’t let kids do this, if you’ve never fried before make sure you find an adult who has and have them there with you). Dredge the chicken strips in the dry flour mixture, then into the egg whites, and back into the dry mixture (dry, wet, dry). Shake off excess flour and carefully add the chicken to the fry oil. Cook the chicken to an internal temperature of 165 degrees. This is probably the most important step in the process. Over cooked chicken can be very dry. Use a temperature probe and stick the probe into the dead center of the tender. Remove from grease, drain, and serve with the dipping sauce. Yum!
For the sauce:
- Mix all ingredients in a medium sized bowl. Set aside for service.