How to make fried chicken tenders and homemade, southern-style gravy!
With Skillet Corn and Steamed Broccoli
Ok, I have a confession to make. It is really bad and I have had tremendous guilt since the, well, the ‘incident’.
My husband was out of town. While at the grocery store that afternoon trying to decide what to make for dinner, I decided to make fried chicken tenders, skillet corn and steamed broccoli (an attempt to feel good about the rest of the meal). So I grabbed the corn on the cob, broccoli, a lemon and the fresh chicken tenders and headed out the door.
I picked up the kids from school, got home and started dinner prep. I unwrapped the chicken tenders, put them in a bowl and covered with milk. I added about a ½ cup of white vinegar to create ‘buttermilk’ and let the chicken marinate in that while I prep’d the rest.
Next, I shucked the corn on the cob and cut the kernels from the cob. I placed those in the skillet and then ‘milked’ the corn by using the back of my knife and scraping it down the cob. This releases the remaining milk-like substance left behind from the kernels. This goes directly into the skillet. Then I added some salt and pepper and about 2 T butter and turned the stove on medium-low heat. I’ll keep stirring this through the rest of the dinner prep.
On to the broccoli…it gets rinsed and the florets removed and cut into same size pieces. These go into a pot with water and a steamer. This is the best way to keep broccoli fresh and bright green. This will get cooked at the last-minute but it is now out of the way and ready to go.
Back to the chicken…Using a heavy skillet, preferably a cast iron skillet, place enough vegetable oil in the bottom to come up the sides about half way. Turn on medium-high heat. Then, place about 1 ½ cups of flour onto a plate and add salt and pepper. Remove the chicken tenders from the ‘buttermilk’, salt and pepper them and dredge in the flour, shaking off any excess. Repeat until all tenders are ready. Take a pinch of the flour and drop in the oil. If it sizzles immediately, the oil is hot enough to start frying. You never want to put the chicken in until the oil is hot enough otherwise it will just absorb the oil and taste disgusting.
Remember to place the chicken tenders in the oil away from you to avoid any splashing oil. Don’t overcrowd the pan as you’ll lower the heat and cause the same problem as not having hot enough oil to begin with.
Cook until golden brown on one side and then turn. You should only need to turn these once. It will probably take about 5 minutes per side but depends on a lot of factors (size of tender, depth of oil, temperature of oil, type of skillet). Just watch for the color and listen to the sound. The sizzle will become a bit quieter when they are done. Remove the tenders when done and place on a wire rack with paper towels underneath. This will allow them to drain any excess oil while staying crispy.
Repeat until all the chicken is done.
Well, this is where it got a little crazy. I wasn’t even going to eat any of the chicken. I was planning to have a salad for dinner. But then there it was….perfect chicken drippings in a cast iron skillet just begging me to be made into gravy instead of thrown away. They called to me like Sirens and I gave in.
To make the gravy, drain the oil into an old jar to be thrown away (my mom saves this to use again, but she deep fries with shortening and uses a lot more of it). Keep all the solids in the skillet and keep about 3T oil in the bottom of the skillet too. Return the skillet to medium-high heat and add 4T flour. Stir with a wooden spoon until the color turns a deep, nutty brown.
Carefully add cold milk while stirring briskly. I’d love to tell you exactly how much but it’s just not that exact. Start slowly because you can’t take out milk if you put too much, but you can always add.
Start with about 1 ½ cups. Add some salt and pepper and stir until the gravy starts to simmer (bubble slightly, not a rapid boil) and thicken. If it starts to become too thick, add some more milk about ½ cup at a time. You’ll know it is done when it coats the back of the spoon yet still drips off.
Of course, you should probably make some rice or mashed potatoes to serve with the gravy, but I also just like pouring some over the chicken or even drinking it through a straw!! I guess that makes me a true Southerner.
Level of Difficulty: Moderate
Time Required: Prep Time – 40min; Cook Time – 45 min
Salt and Pepper
Fried chicken drippings and 3 T of remaining oil
2 cups milk (approximately)
Salt and pepper
4 ears of corn, cut off the cob and ‘milked’
3 T butter
Salt and Pepper
Head of broccoli, rinsed and florets cut into equal size pieces.
Special Equipment and Other Items Needed:
Make sure oil is hot before adding chicken
Place chicken in oil away from you
Don’t put chicken directly on paper towels to drain
Save jars for leftover grease, don’t put down your sink
Add rice or mashed potatoes to go with the gravy
Add a tablespoon of flour and some cream to the corn for a variation of creamed corn
Seriously, if you have leftovers of this gravy, call me!!