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Oven-Baked Chicken Tenders with Celery and Grape Salad

Time40 minutes
YieldsServes 4
Celery and grapes create a crunchy salad to contrast with hot, crispy baked chicken tenders in this simple weeknight dish.
(Lindsay Kreighbaum/For The Times. Prop styling: Dorothy Hoover)
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Baking tenders instead of frying them requires a tad more work on the front end, but toasting bread crumbs — or whatever you’re using — in butter before coating the cutlets ensures they’ll end up golden and irresistible — no hot fat needed. And a handful of sweet grapes, shaved cheese and pickled onion brine elevate humble celery into a fantastic crunchy, cold salad to balance the tenders. Once cooked and cooled, cutlets can be frozen, after which they can be tossed on a baking sheet and reheated in a 350-degree oven for 10 minutes or so. The fries aren’t a must, but they’re certainly nice to have.

1

Heat the oven to 450 degrees. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add panko and cook, stirring constantly, until golden brown, two to four minutes. Transfer to a shallow baking dish, season with salt and pepper, and let cool.

2

Meanwhile, beat eggs in a shallow baking dish and season with salt and pepper. Lightly coat a rimmed baking sheet with a little oil. Season chicken all over with salt and pepper. Working with one strip at a time, dip it into the beaten egg and turn to coat, letting the excess drip back into the dish. Transfer to the breadcrumbs and turn to coat, pressing to help the crumbs adhere, then place on the greased baking sheet.

3

Bake the tenders, flipping halfway through, until just cooked through and golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. If serving with fries, spread them out on a separate baking sheet and bake in the oven at the same time as the chicken.

4

While the chicken and fries bake, make the salad: In a large bowl, combine the grapes, cheese, nuts, onions and liquid, olive oil, celery and herbs, if using. Season with salt and pepper and toss to combine. Add some of the celery leaves, if you like.

5

Serve the chicken tenders hot from the oven alongside the fries and salad with mustard or Turmeric Tahini, if using, for dipping.

Easiest Pickled Onions

1

Place the sliced onions in a resealable jar with a tight-fitting lid. Add a big pinch of salt and sugar, then fill the jar up halfway with vinegar. Add enough water to cover the onions, then screw the lid on tight and shake the heck out of it. Set aside at least 15 minutes or refrigerate for up to two weeks. Makes about 1 cup pickled onions.

Turmeric Tahini

1

In a medium bowl, whisk together the tahini, water, lemon juice, olive oil, turmeric, cayenne, salt and pepper until smooth. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three weeks. Makes about 1/2 cup.