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The Plastic Spoon: Pretzel-Crusted Chicken Tenders w/ Roasted Red Pepper Beer Sauce

It’s that time again!

The official kickoff to my summer! Every April in Johnson City, dozens of brewers descend upon this college town to get me extremely intoxicated for an event known as the Thirsty Orange Brew Extravaganza! Last year, I covered the event as a member of the press (and was even called upon to be a “Celebrity Beer Judge” [which may be the single greatest thing I’ve ever been called {which wouldn’t be hard cuz I’m usually just called an alcoholic asshole}]). This year, while I wasn’t a celebrity beer judge, I managed to have an even better time at the event. So many of the brewers were extremely helpful and full of information about their particular concoctions that they had produced for the event. Pete and Chris, the fellas at Black Goose Brewers (whose “Dirty Joe Porter” won my medal for Best Beer last year), greeted me as an old friend! I met several other great brewers (and even more lovely ladies that were in charge of the tap handles). And I even stumbled upon “The Official Pretzels of Beer.” That’s right! THE OFFICIAL PRETZELS OF BEER! Wonder what they are? They are Knotty Pretzels. Knotty Pretzels, based out of Marietta, Georgia, were on hand to give out free samples of their amazing pretzels. I had the chance to try the Zesty Italian variety. Deliciously crunchy. Salty and buttery. And the Italian seasoning. My god. Just….my god! So my wheels got to spinning! What could The Plastic Spoon do with these little twisted pieces of heaven? And it struck me.

 

PRETZEL-CRUSTED CHICKEN TENDERS W/ ROASTED RED PEPPER BEER SAUCE

For the Tenders:

1lb. Chicken Tenders

2 Eggs

1/3 cup Honey Mustard

8oz. bag of Knotty Pretzels

Salt and Pepper

For the Sauce:

3 oz. Cream Cheese (softened)

2 Tbl. Sour Cream

1 Roasted Red Pepper (jarred is totally fine)

2 Tbl. Beer

Start off by preheating your oven to 375 degrees. Take out your chicken tenders and season them with salt and pepper. Combine your Honey Mustard and your two eggs into a bowl and scramble them together. Transfer your seasoned chicken into the honey mustard egg mixture to marinate. Empty the bag of Knotty Pretzels into a ziplock baggie and DESTROY THEM WITH YOUR ANGER!!!!! Smash the hell out of those pretzels. I’m not kidding here. They have to be in teeny-tiny pieces for this to work. Grab a measuring cup and beat the crap outta that ziplock baggie. Once the pretzels have been decimated like Metropolis at the end of Man of Steel, transfer to another bowl. Create a breading station (remember that from my Fish Fingers and Custard post? No? Well, damn it! C’mon guys! I worked hard on that video!) Move one honey mustard coated chicken tender to the pretzel bowl, cover it in the pretzel rubble and set it onto a baking sheet that you’ve covered in nonstick spray. Continue this process until all tenders have been coated. Then, toss that baking sheet into the oven (Don’t actually toss it. The tenders my go flying everywhere. And that would ruin everything!). Bake for 20 minutes, flipping the tenders over halfway through the process.

While the tenders are baking, assemble your sauce! This….is very easy. Put all of the ingredients into a blender or food processor and blend until combined. See? Told you it was easy.

I LOVE this recipe. The Knotty Pretzels add an entirely new level to the chicken tenders. The Italian spices fill the kitchen with a delicious aroma as the tenders are baking. And when you actually bite into the tenders? All of the attributes that I loved about them at the festival stayed intact. The crunchiness. The saltiness. The butteryness. The Zesty Italianness. (I understand that some of those aren’t words, but I don’t need your sass! I just made delicious food! Shut up and enjoy it!) And when you dip that into the Roasted Red Pepper Beer Sauce? Yessir! It’s a wonderful flavor combination. The beer and the red pepper flavors meld together perfectly with the creaminess of the cream cheese and sour cream (That’s officially the most times I’ve said cream in a sentence [I gave myself a plaque for it and everything]). The whole dish was a perfect way to pay tribute to an amazing festival that I’ve come to love during my time since I’ve been in college in Johnson City.

Thank you, Knotty Pretzels. Thank you, Thirsty Orange.

Posted in: Gonzo, Lifestyle
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