There’s a strange little scene from my childhood that still plays in my head sometimes, over and over, like a missed prophecy:  I was somewhere between twelve and fifteen, I think, and my whole family was home sick from work or school, so we were actually having a sit-down lunch together–a real rarity for us.  Of course, everyone was completely exhausted, and tasks were being distributed on the customary who’s-the-most-tired-I-win-you-do-it basis.  We assembled the least creative, easiest meal possible, so it naturally had nothing in it but our two most consistent dietary staples:  Chicken, and pasta.  I remember very clearly that my father sat down at the head of the table as we said grace, and afterwards looked over the food and joked blackly, “You know, if they ever find out chicken is bad for you, this family is just screwed.”

Every single time I remember that, I want to walk into that house ten-or-so years ago, shake him to get his attention, and tell him, “It’s not the chicken, Daddy, it’s the pasta!”  :-D

In any case, once pasta got yanked out of our diet, chicken remained, and we were left to look for easy gluten-free ways to add enough carbohydrates to our largely carnivorous diet.  My brother works as a manager at Chik-Fil-A, so he taught me how to bread chicken.  It’s an easy, if slightly messy, process; the only really time- or labor-intensive part is coming by some breadcrumbs.  I bake some of my basic bread specifically to make breadcrumbs from time to time; I make three loaves’ worth, cut it up, let it dry out, then run the pieces through my trusty blender, and voila, I have a giant bag of breadcrumbs to throw in my chest freezer for later.

You can make as much chicken at one time as you want to, really; my brother and I bread about 4 lb a week, all at once, eat some, and put the rest in the fridge for lunches and snacks.  Feel free to experiment with how you spice the breadcrumbs, too.

Well, with no further ado:

Breaded Chicken Tenders

Yield:  1 lb chicken tenders (or more; depends how much you’re making!)

Ingredients:

  • Chicken tenders
  • 1 – 1 1/4 cup GF breadcrumbs per lb of chicken
  • 1/2 tsp salt per cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper per cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 tsp paprika per cup breadcrumbs
  • one egg for egg coater (per 2 lb chicken)

Directions:

  1. As you defrost your chicken, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Once the chicken’s defrosted, make sure to drain it; it’s much easier to bread once the juices are gone!  You’ll also want to cover a pan with parchment paper to put the chicken on as you bread it.
  2. Measure the breadcrumbs into a wide, flat bowl (you’ll want enough room to dredge the tenders in the crumbs without making a mess), then mix in the salt, pepper, and paprika.  (Add in any crumbs you have left over from previous batches; they keep fine in the fridge, and a little extra volume of crumbs makes things easier.)
  3. Beat the egg(s) for the egg coater in a smaller bowl.
  4. Take each tender, and first put it in the beaten egg coater; turn it over once or twice to make sure every part of it’s coated.  Then dredge the tender through the breadcrumbs, also turning it over once or twice to make sure every part of it’s coated.  It takes a little practice, but it’s not too hard to get a good, even coating.
  5. Line up the breaded tenders on the parchment-paper-lined pan as you go.  Once they’re all ready, bake them for about half an hour.
  6. They’ll look a little different once they’re baked, but not much.  Bon appetit!

And again we’re off, this time with pictures:

Breaded Chicken Tenders

Yield:  1 lb chicken tenders (or more; depends how much you’re making!)

Ingredients:

  • Chicken tenders
  • 1 – 1 1/4 cup GF breadcrumbs per lb of chicken
  • 1/2 tsp salt per cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper per cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 tsp paprika per cup breadcrumbs
  • one egg for egg coater (per 2 lb chicken)

Directions:

1.  As you defrost your chicken, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Once the chicken’s defrosted, make sure to drain it; it’s much easier to bread once the juices are gone!  You’ll also want to cover a pan with parchment paper to put the chicken on as you bread it.

2.  Measure the breadcrumbs into a wide, flat bowl (you’ll want enough room to dredge the tenders in the crumbs without making a mess), then mix in the salt, pepper, and paprika.  (Add in any crumbs you have left over from previous batches; they keep fine in the fridge, and a little extra volume of crumbs makes things easier.)

3.  Beat the egg(s) for the egg coater in a smaller bowl.

4.  Take each tender, and first put it in the beaten egg coater; turn it over once or twice to make sure every part of it’s coated.  Then dredge the tender through the breadcrumbs, also turning it over once or twice to make sure every part of it’s coated.  It takes a little practice, but it’s not too hard to get a good, even coating.

5.  Line up the breaded tenders on the parchment-paper-lined pan as you go.  Once they’re all ready, bake them for about half an hour.

6.  They’ll look a little different once they’re baked, but not much.  Bon appetit!