FOR THE MARINADE
- 2 pounds chicken tenderloins
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon paprika
- 1-1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 heaping teaspoon salt
- 3/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 3/4 teaspoon paprika
- 3 tablespoons buttermilk
- 3-4 cups vegetable oil, for cooking
- To marinate the chicken: In a large sealable, combine the chicken tenders with the remaining marinade ingredients. Seal the bag tightly and massage the chicken until it is evenly coated with buttermilk and seasoning. Place in a bowl (in case of leakage) and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to 24 hours.
- To make the breading: In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and paprika. Whisk until well blended, then add the buttermilk and stir with a fork until the mixture is evenly clumpy.
- Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil for easy cleanup. Remove the chicken tenders from the marinade a few at a time and toss into the breading mixture. Be sure to press the chicken firmly into the breading so clumps adhere to the meat. (It's a messy job: use one hand to remove the wet tenders from the bag and the other to toss in the breading.) Set breaded tenders on the prepared baking sheet.
- To fry the chicken: Line another baking sheet with a few layers of paper towels and set next to the stove. Add oil to a large, high-sided pot until the level reaches about 3/4-inch. Heat over medium-high heat until oil is shimmering (about 350°). (If a cube of bread sizzles when you drop it in, it's ready.) Using tongs, place several chicken tenders in the hot oil without crowding the pan. Cook until golden brown on the bottom side, a few minutes, then flip and cook until the second side is also golden, a few minutes more. Set the cooked tenders on the paper towel-lined baking sheet to drain. Fry remaining tenders in batches adjusting the heat as necessary (if the tenders are browning too fast, lower the heat). Serve hot.
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