Cornmeal-Crusted Fried Chicken Tenders with Dilled Fingerling Potato Salad

fried chicken

Two of my absolute favorite foods are fried chicken and potato salad. There's something so unabashedly comforting about these two foods that have me admitting they're my favorite. I love them for two reasons: First, because my mom would make them every year on my birthday in July. Second, because they're both simple and easy to prepare.

Who doesn't love fried chicken and potato salad? Just the word fried is enough to get anyone excited. And the classic creamy potato salad is always a crowd-pleaser. It's typical summer picnic food in an old-fashioned way. For me summer wouldn't be complete without these two classics. But there's nothing wrong with updating mom's recipes....

I take traditional fried chicken and give it a healthy modern and slightly Southern twist. Dare I say it: I like skinless fried chicken! I use chicken tenders that I bread in the usual flour, eggs, and breadcrumbs but add cornmeal for an extra crispy crust.

For the potato salad: I like a runny, creamy, tart, and sweet dressing. In addition to chopped eggs, I also add crumbled bacon—eggs and bacon go hand in hand after all. And finally I give it a Scandinavian twist with chopped dill, which adds brightness. This potato salad will have everyone coming back for seconds. What's more perfect than this upcoming weekend's Memorial Day to kick off picnic season? Get ready summer, Here I come!

Cornmeal-Crusted Fried Chicken Tenders

2-1/2 pounds chicken tenders or 2 boneless, skinless breasts cut into strips
fine sea salt
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon paprika
2 large eggs
3/4 cup breadcrumbs
1/4 cup yellow cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
canola oil, for frying

Liberally season chicken breasts with salt. Set on a plate, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes to allow for chicken to absorb salt.

Prepare a station for coating the chicken. Combine flour and paprika on a plate. In a bowl, lightly beat the eggs. Combine breadcrumbs, cornmeal, and pepper on a second plate. Coat each strip first with flour mixture. Then dip one by one into the eggs. Finally coat the strips with the breadcrumb-cornmeal mixture, making sure to press the chicken into the mixture to coat all around.

Warm 1/2 inch of oil in a large saute pan set over medium-high heat. Once oil reaches sizzling point, add the chicken strips. Fry until golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes per side. Remove to a plate lined with paper towels. Yield: 4 servings.

Dilled Fingerling Potato Salad

2 pounds fingerling potatoes
3 large eggs
3 strips bacon
1/4 cup finely chopped dill
1/4 cup finely chopped chives
3 tablespoons sour cream
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons malt vinegar
2 tablespoons lemon juice (about 1/2 lemon)
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Add potatoes to a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and reduce to a medium simmer. Cook until potatoes are tender, about 10 to 15 minutes. Drain and let cool slightly. Slice potatoes in halves or quarters, depending on size.

Prepare eggs at the same time. Add eggs to a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, cover, and shut off heat. Let sit for 15 minutes. Rinse under cold water. Peel and chop fine.

In a skillet set over medium-high heat, cook bacon until all fat has rendered and bacon is crisp. Alternatively, place bacon on a plate and cover with a paper towel. Microwave on high for 4 minutes. Let cool slightly and chop fine.

Combine potatoes, eggs, bacon, dill, and chives in a large bowl.

In a measuring cup or small bowl, whisk together sour cream, mayonnaise, vinegar, lemon juice, maple syrup, salt, and pepper. Pour over potatoes. Toss to combine. Check seasoning. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving. Yield: 4 servings.