I was really disappointed when I first made this recipe – baking it in the oven was a big mistake. In a home where all the great recipes elicit the request for “Seconds please,” the original version was not one of them. And quite frankly if any one did ask for seconds, I would have said they were taste blind. The flavor was not rich enough. Even my own inner thoughts protested. Don’t get me wrong, it was edible but it was not one of my proudest creations. I almost trashed the recipe altogether.
For unknown reasons I was stubborn. I became obsessed with the idea of creating the best chicken tender scampi recipe. Maybe it’s because, while my son can eat shrimp scampi, he would only eat one shrimp or perhaps it’s just because we eat a lot of chicken; and therefore I am always scheming up ideas to create a diverse array of delicious chicken dishes. Now, several months later, the obsession paid off.
The major changes to the original recipe included cooking it on the stovetop, adding paprika to brighten up the bland chicken tenders and using my favorite thyme. In addition, the use of cornstarch to thicken the sauce even before adding the butter was brilliant. The sauce works for both chicken and shrimp. I plan to use this process next time I make shrimp scampi. This chicken Tenders Scampi recipe is now one of the top recipes in my pecking order for its easy to make process and its intensely palate pleasing flavors I paired this recipe with my Creamy Mushroom Carbonara Polenta. Enjoy.
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Chicken Tenders Scampi
A simple, quick and delicious recipe. Great for any day of the week or weekend gourmet dish.
- 3 1/2 pounds organic chicken tenders Rinse, dry and cut each tender into 3 pieces
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil.
- 1 shallot diced
- 1 tablespoon garlic minced
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme finely chopped
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 3 lemons (Zest 1 lemon, Juice 2 lemons and thin slice 1 lemon)
- 3 teaspoons cornstarch
- 4 tablespoons very cold butter cut into 4 equal pieces
Season the cut up chicken tenders with the salt, black pepper, paprika and 1 teaspoon of the minced garlic.
In a six quart sauté pan, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat.
Sauté – in three batches – the chicken tenders for 4 minutes per batch. Mix two to three times per batch to allow the tenders to cook evenly. Remove each batch and set aside.
Note: Add more olive oil if necessary, It’s important to cook the chicken in small batches. This way the chicken won’t release excess liquid. I used a total of 3 tablespoons olive oil to cook the chicken.
Reduce the heat to medium. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Sauté the shallots for 1 to 2 minutes.
Add the remaining garlic and thyme and sauté for up to 1 minute.
Add the wine, scraping up any of the flavorful brown bits (deglaze) and cook until the wine is reduced to half.
Add the chicken broth, lemon zest and lemon juice. Bring to a boil and cook until reduced to about half.
Add, 1 teaspoon at a time, the cornstarch whisking while adding each teaspoon to prevent lumps. Cook, whisking constantly until the sauce starts to thicken – about 1 to 2 minutes.
Add the cold butter – 1 tablespoon at a time. Whisk each tablespoon of butter until it is fully melted. The sauce will start to look creamy.
Add the chicken tenders – coat with the sauce and continue cooking for 2 minutes.
Garnish with the fresh lemon slices. Plate, serve and enjoy.
Note: I served this with my Creamy Mushroom Carbonara Polenta.
You can use shrimp in this recipe. It’s important to use cold butter since it will melt slower to create the creamy texture. Also use a wine that you can drink – it does not need to be the most expensive; I usually choose a Chardonnay or Pinot Grigio.