baked panko chicken tenders with honey mustard dipping sauce

if you want a really crunchy breaded crust, skip the bread crumbs, and use panko instead. panko - or japanese breadcrumbs (i find them in the asian aisle) - are simply unseasoned, course bread crumbs.

instead of getting soggy like regular bread crumbs sometimes do, panko tends to stay nice and crisp when frying or baking. whenever something is coated to be fried (think chicken and risotto cakes) it's panko all the way. if you've never used them before, i highly recommend making the switch. so how to use up that can of bread crumbs in your freezer (keeping them in the freezer slows down them getting stale)? they're a good mix in for meatballs, meat loaf, or any time you would normally use bread crumbs as a binder, instead of a crust.

last time i made these, i fried them. this time i wanted something easier, less messy, and less greasy, so i baked them. one word of advice - don't skip the buttermilk! i foolishly forgot to use it (or any other binder) and just coated my dry chicken tenders in panko (i was trying to catch up on my grey's anatomy - can you believe mark told lexi she could have a husband?! don't ruin it for me...i still have two more episodes to go!...and wasn't paying enough attention to my chicken). surprisingly it worked, but it would have been a million times better with the milk. i bet an egg scrambled with a little water would work well too.

oh and the sauce. how could i forget the sauce. this was the response i got -
"you made this? no way! this is better than the honey mustard sauce you get with chicken tenders at a restaurant!"

i used plain old wegmans yellow mustard. i bet spicy brown would be amazing.

panko chicken tenders with honey mustard dipping sauce
adapted from life's ambrosia
30 minutes start to finish, serves 4-6

for the chicken -
1 pound chicken tenders
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup buttermilk, or 2% or whole milk
salt & pepper
  1. preheat the oven to 400F. line a sheet pan with aluminum foil. pound the chicken tenders thin and flat with the bottom of a pan or a meat tenderizer.
  2. pour the panko into a large pan or bowl (i used a pyrex pie plate). season with salt & pepper.
  3. pour the buttermilk into a separate bowl. add the chicken tenders and turn to coat.
  4. one by one, remove the chicken from the milk, and place in the panko mixture. flip and make sure both sides and the edges are evenly coated. move to the sheet pan. repeat with the remainder.
  5. bake for about 20 minutes, flipping the tenders over halfway through.
  6. while the tenders bake, make the sauce.
  7. for the sauce, whisk all of the following together in a bowl. serve with the tenders.
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons mustard
1 tablespoon white vinegar
2 tablespoons honey

2011.08.15 this was one of tea and scones's selection for secret recipe club!

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