Sourdough fried chicken is a great way to use up excess sourdough discard. Plus they are tender, juicy, and crispy.
They are full of flavor and are the perfect combination of tender juicy chicken and crispy fried batter that has just a bit of sourdough tang.
My son is almost three, which means we make a lot of chicken tenders. One day while I was mixing up some batter to dredge chicken strips in I started to wonder if sourdough discard could be substituted for the batter.
Dipping the chicken in sourdough discard works much the same way as dipping it in buttermilk. The bacteria in sourdough discard and buttermilk help to tenderize the chicken. They also have just a slight tang from the sourdough discard.
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If you have jumped on the sourdough bandwagon then you likely have lots of sourdough discard. I can only make so many sourdough discard crackers, flatbreads, and banana bread before I start looking for new ways to use up my sourdough discard.
Why not try something different like these sourdough discard chicken tenders.
If you prefer baked chicken strips try my Baked Sourdough Chicken Strips.
What is sourdough discard?
Sourdough discard is the part of your sourdough starter that you usually throw away when you feed it. I feel guilty about throwing away food and am always looking for ways to reduce food waste.
I've created a guide for creating a maintaining a small sourdough starter to help reduce sourdough discard waste.
Sourdough Tip: Keep a glass jar in your refrigerator to store your sourdough discard. Continue adding to it until you have enough to make your chosen sourdough discard recipe.
How to cut chicken for chicken strips
For tender juicy chicken, it is important to cut chicken strips across the grain. This makes the chicken fibers shorter so that the chicken tears easier and seems more tender.
TIP: Freeze the chicken breasts for 15-20 minutes to make slicing easier.
Why should you dry brine your chicken?
Dry brining also known as salting is a great way to ensure moist meat with a little extra flavor without the extra mess associated with wet brining. Dry brining seasons the meat and changes the structure of the proteins to allow them to retain more of their moisture.
When chicken is dry brined the salt draws the juices inside the meat to the surface. The juices dissolve the salt and are then are pulled, along with the dissolved salt, back into the meat seasoning the chicken throughout.
Once absorbed the salt breaks down or denatures the tough muscle proteins, like myosin, which allows the chicken to retain more moisture as it cooks.
How to dry brine chicken
- Pat the chicken dry with paper towels.
- Sprinkle the chicken evenly on both sides with about 1.5 tablespoons of kosher salt.
- Place the chicken on a cooling rack placed inside of a sheet pan and refrigerate the chicken uncovered for 6 to 8 hours. If you don't have a cooling rack for your sheet pan you can buy one on Amazon. If you're in the market for new sheet pans as well they also sell them as sets in both half sheet pan and quarter sheet pan sizes.
- Remove the chicken from the refrigerator 20 minutes before frying. This will allow the chicken to come to room temperature. Room temperature chicken will cook more evenly and prevents the oil from cooling too much as more chicken is added.
How do you get the batter to stick to the chicken?
Batter sticks best when the exterior of the chicken is really dry. Salting the chicken will initially pull moisture out of the chicken. The juices from the chicken will absorb the salt and then be pulled back into the chicken bringing the salt and flavor with it.
The dry air inside the refrigerator will also help to dry the exterior of the chicken.
How to batter the chicken
Have you ever tried to batter chicken only to end up with more batter clinging to your hands rather than the chicken? The secret to preventing this is to use one hand for the dry ingredients and one hand for the wet ingredients.
- Pour the sourdough discard into a shallow dish. I like to use pie plates.
- In a separate shallow dish, whisk together the flour, brown sugar, kosher salt, chili powder, garlic powder, dried thyme, dried oregano, celery salt, cayenne pepper, paprika, ground mustard, ground ginger, and black pepper.
- Use your left hand to dip the chicken into the sourdough discard and then place it in the dish with the seasoned flour. Use your right hand to coat the chicken with flour and place it on a sheet pan while you bread the remaining chicken tenders.
- Allow the chicken to rest for fifteen minutes so that the flour absorbs the liquid and better adheres to the chicken.
For a visual on how the wet-hand dry-hand technique works watch this video from Chef Mark Anthony.
What is the best oil for frying?
When selecting an oil for frying you want to choose an oil with a high smoke point. The smoke point is the temperature at which the oil begins to break down and smoke.
Some of the best oils for frying are:
- Peanut oil
- Soybean oil
- Vegetable oil
- Safflower oil
- Canola oil
- Corn oil
- Cottonseed oil
- Sunflower oil
I typically use canola oil or vegetable oil because of their affordability and neutral flavor.
How to fry chicken
- Pour the oil into a frying pan until it is about one inch deep. I love using my cast iron skillet for frying chicken. The two just seem like they were made for each other.
- Heat the oil over medium-high heat until it begins to shimmer and reaches 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Use an instant-read thermometer to check the temperature of the oil. You could also heat the oil in a deep fryer.
- Working in small batches, place the coated chicken strips in the hot oil without crowding them too closely together, you don't want the temperature of the oil to drop too low. I usually split my chicken into three batches. Cook until golden brown on both sides, flipping halfway through the cooking time. Approximately 2-4 minutes per side.
- Cover the pan with a splash guard to minimize the amount of oil splatter. I have ruined so many shirts because I didn't put on an apron and oil splattered on my shirt. This splash guard really helps to cut down on the mess and has saved my shirts.
How do you know when the chicken is fully cooked?
On average the chicken should fry on each side for 2-4 minutes. The chicken will be golden brown and crispy. The most accurate way to ensure the chicken is fully cooked is to check it with an instant-read probe thermometer. This thermometer from Thermoworks is my favorite. Fully cooked chicken should have an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
How to keep fried chicken warm and crispy?
After frying the chicken place it on an inverted cooling rack in a paper towel-lined baking sheet. The paper towels will help wick away excess oil while the inverted cooling rack keeps the chicken tenders elevated just enough to prevent them from becoming soggy.
Place the baking sheet in a 170 degrees Fahrenheit oven while you fry the remaining chicken. Do not cover the chicken. It will trap the steam which will make the chicken soggy.
Store any leftovers in an airtight container and refrigerate for 3-4 days.
To reheat the chicken tenders place them in a 350 degree Fahrenheit oven for 15-20 minutes.
How to make your own frozen chicken strips
Prepare and cook the chicken as usual but only cook it until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Cool to room temperature and then freeze in a single layer on a baking sheet. Transfer to a zip-top bag, and label with the date and contents. Store in the freezer for up to three months.
To reheat frozen chicken strips: Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit and bake on a baking sheet for 15 minutes.
Read this post How to Cook Frozen Chicken Tenders for more information.
Can you reuse frying oil?
Oil used for frying can generally be used 3-4 additional times before being discarded. Some of the flavor from what you fry will transfer to the oil. This is generally a good thing except for when you fry fish. Anything you fry after frying fish will taste a bit fishy.
Once the oil has cooled filter it using a fine-mesh strainer lined with coffee filters. Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to a month.
Straining used oil can take a few hours depending upon how quickly it flows through the strainer. For an even faster technique watch the video from America's Test Kitchen.
How to dispose of used frying oil
Whatever you do DO NOT dump oil down the drain. It will coat your pipes and cause so many plumbing problems. Instead, pour cooled oil in a disposable container like an old sour cream container and discard it with your regular trash.
Many communities also have recycling programs for used cooking oil. Use GreenCitizen's recycling center search to find a recycling center near you. At the top of the page, enter “cooking oil” and your zip code to find the drop-off recycling locations closest to you.
One of my favorite things to do with leftover chicken strips is to chop them into pieces and serve them on top of a fresh salad. You could also save them for breakfast and serve them topped with maple syrup and hot sauce on top of these crispy waffles.
If you are new to sourdough starters, I've created a sourdough gift guide which lists all of my favorite sourdough products.
Looking for more sourdough discard recipes?
Thanks for Reading!
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