One of my favourite restaurants in Canberra, EightySix, changes its menu fairly regularly but the times I have been they have had this amazing fried chicken with sriracha sauce on the side. I would love to try and replicate this chicken at home but two things are stopping me. 1. I am a teensy bit, (ok a lot) afraid of deep frying. There were these ad campaigns when I lived in the UK that showed houses going up in flames when people used a deep fryer and I am obviously very susceptible to advertising messages as I can’t face deep frying at home. 2. If I knew how to make this fried chicken I would possibly live on it and not be able to fit out the door of my house. Not just bad for me but also the dogs who would probably go into a deep depression from never being walked.
There are a lot of recipes out there promising fried chicken results but healthily baked in the oven. I have looked at a few but never felt convinced. But then Nagi from Recipe Tin Eats published this recipe for golden crunchy baked chicken tenders, along with a set of instructions on how to do the battering in a relatively mess-free way. Actually it is pretty much mess free unless you are uncoordinated like me and suddenly forget what you are doing and use your batter hand for crumbing.
I think what convinced me was that this recipe was worth a go was an extra crunch step that other recipes didn’t have – Nagi crisps up the breadcrumbs to get them crunchy prior to battering the chicken.
The main modification I made to the recipe was to replace the egg with a chia seed replacement. While wasting three quarters of the egg would not have been a big deal, it starts to add up in terms in food wastage when you have to scale up the whole recipe. To create a quarter of an egg, use a teaspoon of chia seeds, crush them with your mortar and pestle and then add three teaspoons of water and let sit for five minutes. Then pop in the batter instead of the egg. It won’t be pretty and it probably doesn’t work quite as well as the egg – it is a bit sticker and harder to get even on the chicken but it does work.
The first couple of times I made the recipe, I used black chia seeds and didn’t toast the panko bread crumbs enough so while they tasted pretty good, they weren’t quite as crunchy as I had hoped and I had funny black lines. I made the batch in these photos with white chia seeds which resulted in a much prettier option. You could make a bigger batch but I am not sure how well the crunch would stay in the breadcrumbs if you tried to freeze them.
To replicate the restaurant dish I served mine with sriracha rather than using Nagi’s dipping sauce. I did add some mayo to the sriracha to take out some of the heat. And the result? These are great tasting baked chicken tenders and I would definitely make them again. They weren’t quite as good as the fried version at the restaurant. I have a feeling, like the baked doughnuts I made that no matter how much we would like to think we can replicate fried with baked goods, nothing can really replicate that fried goodness. Though I am going to see what I can do with Mum’s new air fryer.
To make these for one I used the following ingredients:
- ½ a cup of panko breadcrumbs
- 1 tsp of olive oil
- 1 tsp of chia seeds (ground and mixed with 3 tsps of water)
- 1 tsp of mayonnaise (I used a low fat version)
- ½ tbs of Dijon mustard
- ½ tbs of plain flour
- 1/8 tsp of salt
- A pinch of black pepper
- 140g of chicken breast tenderloins
- Olive oil spray
Aside from the switch out of the egg for chia seeds, I pretty much used Nagi’s recipe as given. It took a little longer to get my panko breadcrumbs nice and golden but my stove is so slow to heat up I probably popped the breadcrumbs in the pan a bit early. I didn’t have a rack to put the chicken on but the underside didn’t come out any less crisp than the top bit.
Preparation time was 10 minutes (including making the chia seed mix) and cook time was 20 minutes from popping the panko crumbs on to crisp in the pan. Calorie wise my recipe came out at 340 calories which is a bit lower than Nagi’s version – because of the chia seeds and low fat mayonnaise.
I had leftover panko breadcrumbs at the end. I added them to some mashed potatoes and then fried the potato for a lovely crunchy side dish.