Adding bacon drippings to the frying oil gives this chicken a subtle but irresistibly smoky flavor.
Bacon-Fried Chicken Tenders
Makes 4 servings
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- Add oil to drippings in skillet, and heat over medium-high heat until a deep-fry thermometer registers 350°.
- 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.
- 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.