Chicken tenders may not make the world go round, but they sure have been around the world from the Middle East, Europe, Asia, Africa, North and South America and the Caribbean and every country imaginable.
These well travelled tenderloins have been served grilled, baked and deep fried. They have been seasoned to perfection with everyday salt and pepper to exotic Tandori spice. Chicken tenders are truly versatile and can be served as an apt appetizer, scrumptious snack, delicious dinner and kid calmer.
But with all this talk about chicken tenders, I have just one question that has eluded me for years and has remained a mystery. The question is: where did they come from?
Well cluck cluck, I had a bit of luck in pulling back the feathers of this mystery and getting a bit closer to heart of the matter.
Chef Matthew Boring, Online Community Manager for Tyson Foods, Inc., postulates that chicken tenders may have been born in the early 1970s out of the ingenuity of women (who began flooding the workforce) as a convenience food. Balancing a career with the tradition of putting a home cooked meal on the table after a long day at work makes this very believable. After all, a boneless, lean piece of chicken will cook up in a matter of minutes. Remember: necessity is the mother of invention.
This actually predates another belief that chicken tenders where spawn from the health conscious moment of the early 1990s when people wanted to reduce their consumption of red meat. Boneless chicken breast seemed a better alternative, not mention one that allowed for convenience and speed in preparation.
No matter what you believe, and I think Chef Boring is probably spot on, chicken tenders are a fully integrated food choice in the American diet. I think chicken tenders have been one of the best modern advances in food because kids love them. They give fish sticks stiff completion. In fact, when I introduced my kids to chicken tenders when I was a young mother, they were ruined and ate fish sticks no more.
Chef Boring reminded me that there is a difference between chicken tenders, the tenderloin portion of the breast and chicken strips which are lengthwise portions cut from a chicken breast. To the novice like me it really doesn’t matter. What matters is how they are prepared and seasoned. Most will agree they like their chicken tenders or strips the tradition way – highly seasoned, dipped in a batter and deep fried until they are golden brown and crispy. I concur.
Yet, but more often than not, I tend to go with a healthier rendition of chicken tenders. Who better than the folks at Tyson Foods to offer me a great Cornflake Crunch Chicken Tenders recipe for this post that is baked, crispy and made from ingredients you probably have on hand. It takes only 20 minutes to bake them in the oven and this is one of my favorite chicken tenders recipe.
Cornflake Crunch Chicken Tenders
16 Chicken Tenderloins
2 cups cornflakes, finely crushed
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 large egg
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 cups marinara sauce, hot
Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with foil; spray with nonstick cooking spray.
Combine cornflakes, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper in a shallow dish. Lightly beat egg in another shallow dish.
Rinse ice glaze off chicken. Pat dry. Dip chicken in egg, then in cornflakes mixture. Place on pan.
Drizzle chicken with butter. Bake 20 minutes or until done (internal temp 170°F). Serves 4.