Fancy chicken tenders and french fries with homemade garlic aioli

I do not like meat with bones in it. I do love sauces. While this complicates things when it comes to eating buffalo wings, it makes chicken tenders one of my favorites foods – all that delicious chicken free to be dipped in an array of sauces without a single bone in sight. Tonight for dinner we decided to do a classy take on the old diner staple, chicken tenders and french fries.

For the chicken tenders, we used a modified version of this recipe from gimme some oven, replacing the garlic powder (we were out) with some onion powder and parmesan. The french fries utilize a cooking method found in The America’s Test Kitchen Cookbook, but the recipe was of our own design. The aioli is from one of my favorite cookbooks – Tasty. Since we wanted to bake both the fries and the chicken tenders, we made the fries first and used the time while they cooked to prepare everything else.

French fries

  • 2 large russet potatoes
  • 1 tsp rosemary
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 5 tbsp vegetable oil

1. Cut the potatoes up into french fry-shaped pieces. Prepare a bowl of hot tap water and soak the potatoes for 10 min. Preheat the oven to 425° while that’s happening.

2. Pat the potatoes dry and put them in a bowl.

3. Add the salt, pepper, rosemary, and thyme (new Simon and Garfunkle song?) and toss the potatoes to coat them evenly.

4. Add 1 tbsp of the oil and toss again.

5. Oil a pan with the remaining oil, then spread the fries out in a single layer. Cover the pan tightly with tin foil.

6. Bake for 5 minutes, then remove the foil. Bake for an additional 10-15 minutes, until the side of the fries touching the pan have turned golden brown. Flip the fries and cook for another 10-15 minutes.

The aioli

This recipe calls for a mortar and pestle, which we did not have. I tried mashing everything by hand. It went… ok.

  • 4 tbsp minced garlic
  • coarse salt
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice

1. Mash up all the garlic and put it in the mortar.

2. Add a big pinch of salt, then add the egg yolk. Mix it all up until it is thoroughly combined.

3. Slowly drizzle the olive oil in while stirring the mixture. Don’t let the oil pool, make sure it all stays combined. As the mixture grows you can add oil more and more quickly.

4. Add the lemon juice and mix it all in.

5. Add additional salt and lemon juice to taste.

Chicken tenders

  • 1 lb chicken, cut into strips
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup panko
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp parmesan
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • cooking spray (or something for the pan)

1. Preheat oven to 350°.

2. Prepare three bowls and line them up in the following order: one with flour and a little bit of salt and pepper, one with the eggs (beaten), and one with the panko and the rest of the spices.

3. Prepare a baking sheet with the cooking spray.

4. For each strip of chicken, coat with flour (shaking off any excess), dip completely into the egg mixture, then coat with the panko mixture. Place on baking sheet and repeat.

5. Cook for 12-15 minutes, flipping the tenders halfway through.

The result

We ate the chicken tenders with some Omaha Steaks BBQ Sauce and used the aioli for the fries. It was all tasty, but there were some things we could have improved upon. The aioli never really thickened up, so it didn’t make as good of a sauce as we had hoped. It also was somehow not garlicky enough. The chicken tenders were quite spicy. The parmesan turned out to be a lovely touch but didn’t come through enough. Next time we will remove some of the cayenne and add some additional parmesan. The fries, however, were perfect.