The chicken luxuriated in this buttermilk bath for several hours, after which I coated it with a mixture of breadcrumbs and panko (for extra crunch), sauteed it in olive oil, and served it up with a wedge of lemon.
This recipe was an immediate hit at our house and quickly became part of the weekly line-up. But though I’d avoided deep-frying, the dish was still fairly caloric because the crumb mixture soaked up oil like a sponge. I solved that problem for this version of the recipe by using vegetable oil cooking spray on the chicken and cooking it not in a pan, but in the top third of a hot oven.
If it is not quite as crispy as the sauteed version, it is nonetheless ridiculously flavorful. I achieved this effect by adding a blue cheese dipping sauce, which borrows one of the trademark ingredients of Buffalo chicken wings. Traditionally, the wings are tossed in a mixture of hot sauce and butter after they come out of the hot oil. But I didn’t want to sog up my finished product, so I recommend dipping the finished baked nuggets, first in the hot sauce, then in the blue cheese. I think you will agree that this combo is a touchdown.
BUFFALO CHICKEN TENDERS
Start to finish: 2 hours 30 minutes (15 minutes active)
2 garlic cloves, smashed
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons hot sauce (my favorite for this recipe is Tabasco Chipotle), divided
2 cups plus 6 tablespoons buttermilk, divided
1 pound chicken tenders (or chicken breasts cut into 3-by-1-inch strips, 1/ thick)
3/4 cup whole-wheat Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/4 cup low-fat mayonnaise
1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
In a medium bowl, combine the garlic, salt, 2 tablespoons of the hot sauce and 2 cups of the buttermilk. Whisk until the salt is dissolved. Add the chicken tenders and stir to coat well with the marinade. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 10 hours.