Friday, July 22, 2016

Herbaceous Yogourt-Marinated Chicken Tenders

Oh hey, remember that time I went around making recipes featuring yogourt like a mad woman, in an attempt to win $10,000 and be featured in Chatelaine? No, this isn't a big reveal that I've won. I haven't won...or at least I don't know yet (still keeping those fingers and toes crossed!), but I'm still working my way through some of the recipes I submitted to feature them for you here. 

The great thing about doing a contest like that was getting to put my creative hat on and find new ways of reinventing some of my favourite recipes to feature the key ingredient, yogourt. While it's pretty obvious that yogourt goes fantastic with sweet dishes such as the Strawberry Cheese Blintzes and Mango Strawberry Layered Lassi that I made, I wanted to challenge myself and think outside the box (or should I say yogourt!) to find ways of featuring yogourt in unexpected ways in some savoury dishes. 
With chicken breasts on sale at the grocery store and an extra container of panko breadcrumbs that I wanted to clear out of my cupboard, it was natural for me to gravitate towards a reinvented chicken tender recipe. Traditionally chicken tenders go through an assembly line of flour, beaten egg, and breadcrumbs before being baked or fried. In this recipe a mixture of yogourt, herbs, and spices allowed me to coat my chicken in simply the yogourt mixture, and then the panko breadcrumbs, eliminating an extra step and granting the yogourt to act as a marinade and glue for the breadcrumbs. 

I love that the yogourt acts as the glue in this recipe, but more than that, the yogourt coating allowed me to tenderize the meat by marinating the chicken and infusing more flavour into it thanks to the addition of fresh herbs like dill, parsley, and chives, as well as garlic powder and lemon juice. As if that's not enough, I chose to make a little bit extra of the yogourt mixture so that I could set some aside to save as a dipping sauce once my tenders were cooked! Brilliant, right? This recipe turned out so insanely easy to prepare, and was a delicious weeknight meal that also left me with some chicken tender leftovers for lunch the following day. Even if I don't win the Astro and Chatelaine contest, I'm still a winner in my books for having a new simple and delicious weeknight dinner option to add to my repertoire! 
Tip: Toasting your panko before breading helps to give your tenders that fantastic golden colour and give them an additional crunch!

1 1/2 cups Astro Original Balkan Style Plain Yogourt 6%
1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 1/2 Tbsp. fresh dill, finely chopped
1 1/2 Tbsp. parsley, finely chopped
1 1/2 Tbsp. chives, finely chopped
1 1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch strips
1 1/2 - 2 cups panko breadcrumbs, lightly toasted
cooking spray
salt and pepper to season

  1. In a small bowl stir together yogourt with garlic powder, dill, parsley, chives, and lemon juice. Taste and season as needed with salt and pepper. 
  2. Add chicken to a large, zipper, freezer bag and add 1-cup of the yogourt mixture. Coat chicken evenly in the yogourt mixture and place in fridge for 1-hour. Set the remaining 1/2-cup yogourt mixture aside in the fridge.
  3. Preheat oven to 375ºF. 
  4. Place toasted panko in a wide, shallow bowl and season with salt and pepper. Set a large baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray next to it.
  5. Keeping one hand clean, working one at a time, dip each chicken strip into the panko, pressing to coat evenly, and place on the prepared baking sheet. 
  6. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until panko is golden and chicken is cooked through. 
  7. Serve immediately with the remaining yogourt mixture as a dipping sauce. 
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