Life Style

Sweet and Spicy Fried Chicken Tenders Recipe

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By Ann Maloney

At Heard Dat Kitchen in New Orleans, the proprietors call this sweet-and-spicy sauce “skeesh sauce,” a term they coined as a way to exclaim how good it is. To make it, you cook down tomatoes, onion and sugar until jelly-like and then add a generous amount of buffalo sauce. Want it extra-spicy? Add crushed red pepper flakes. The sauce is great on fried chicken, shrimp, fish or tofu. You can toss the protein in the sauce to coat it, use it as a dipping sauce or as dressing like we did here.

Don’t feel like frying chicken? Find out which frozen chicken nuggets we liked most: What’s the best frozen chicken nugget? We tried 10 brands to find out.

Make ahead: The sauce can be made up to 5 days in advance; to reheat, place in a pan over very low heat and stir constantly until warmed through.

Storage: Refrigerate the chicken and sauce separately for up to 4 days.

Adapted from a recipe by Heard Dat Kitchen in New Orleans.


measuring cup

Servings: 46


Time Icon
45 mins
  1. Step 1

    Make the sauce: In a medium pot over high heat, combine the sugar, water, vinegar, onion and tomato. Stir to combine and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, until it reduces to a jelly-like texture, 15 to 20 minutes. As it cooks down, stir more vigorously and frequently to prevent the mixture from sticking to the pan. The sauce is ready when a spoon dragged through the mixture leaves an empty space on the bottom of the pan. Add the Buffalo sauce and crushed red pepper flakes, if using, and stir well to combine.

  2. Step 2

    (It’s fine to start battering the chicken for frying while the sauce is starting to boil and does not require close attention, but do not start frying until the sauce is finished because the sauce requires careful attention at the end.)

  3. Step 3

    Fry the chicken: Set a wire rack inside a large, rimmed baking sheet and place it near your work space. Add the flour to a shallow dish. In another shallow dish, beat the eggs with 1 tablespoon of the oil and the salt until well-combined.

  4. Step 4

    Working with a few pieces at a time, add the chicken to the flour, toss until coated, gently shake off excess and dip the chicken into the egg mixture, turning to coat well. Allow excess to drip off; then return the chicken to the flour for another coat. Place the battered chicken on a wire rack. Repeat with the remaining chicken.

  5. Step 5

    Line another large, rimmed baking sheet with a towel and place it near the stove.

  6. Step 6

    In a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat, add the remaining 1 cup of oil and heat until it reaches 350 degrees, about 3 minutes. To test, drop a bit of flour in the oil, it should sizzle vigorously. Place half of the chicken pieces gently in the skillet and cook until golden brown on the one side, 2 minutes. (Use a splatter screen if you have one.) Using tongs, flip the chicken and cook until the second side is golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes longer. A thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the tenderloin should read 160 to 165 degrees.

  7. Step 7

    Transfer the fried chicken to the towel-lined baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining chicken.

  8. Step 8

    To serve, divide the arugula among individual plates, top with the chicken tenders and spoon the sauce over. Serve any leftover sauce on the side.

Nutritional Facts

Per serving (2 chicken tenders and 1/4 cup sauce), based on 6

  • Calories


  • Carbohydrates

    102 g

  • Cholesterol

    127 mg

  • Fat

    8 g

  • Fiber

    2 g

  • Protein

    33 g

  • Saturated Fat

    1 g

  • Sodium

    814 mg

  • Sugar

    68 g

This analysis is an estimate based on available ingredients and this preparation. It should not substitute for a dietitian’s or nutritionist’s advice.

Adapted from a recipe by Heard Dat Kitchen in New Orleans.

Tested by Ann Maloney.

Published September 19, 2023

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