Bacon-Fried Chicken Tenders

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Adding bacon drippings to the frying oil gives this chicken a subtle but irresistibly smoky flavor.

Bacon-Fried Chicken Tenders
 
Makes 4 servings
Ingredients
  • 1½ cups whole buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon hot sauce
  • 3 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling, divided
  • 8 chicken tenderloins
  • 8 slices bacon, chopped
  • 3 cups vegetable oil
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper, plus more for sprinkling
  • ¾ teaspoon onion powder
  • Honey mustard and hot sauce, to serve
Instructions
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together buttermilk, hot sauce, and 1½ teaspoons salt. Add chicken; cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight.
  2. In a 12-inch cast-iron skillet, cook bacon over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp, about 10 minutes. Remove using a slotted spoon, and let drain on paper towels. Reserve bacon drippings in skillet. Reserve ¼ cup bacon; finely chop remaining bacon.
  3. Add oil to drippings in skillet, and heat over medium-high heat until a deep-fry thermometer registers 350°.
  4. In a shallow dish, whisk together finely chopped bacon, flour, pepper, onion powder, and remaining 1½ teaspoons salt. Remove chicken from marinade, discarding marinade. Working in batches, dredge chicken in flour mixture, pressing gently to adhere and shaking of excess. Place chicken on a wire rack.
  5. Fry chicken in batches, turning halfway through, until a food thermometer inserted in thickest portion registers 165°, about 8 minutes. Let drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with reserved ¼ cup bacon, salt, and pepper. Serve with honey mustard and hot sauce.