Marinated chicken tenderloins

Most unusually for this kitchen, which believes in skin-on, bone-in chicken portions, a pack of deboned, skinned chicken breasts lay on the counter, en route to becoming a stir-fry. Close examination reveals that such a cut included not one, but two distinct sections: the breast proper, and a little fillet, appropriately named the tenderloin. Something as perfectly formed as this deserves special attention, served as a hot starter or chilled on a roll stuffed with salad.

To make a starter for four diners or four splendid pieces of finger food you will need:

  • 12 chicken tenderloins
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons mustard powder
  • 2 teaspoons coarse wholegrain mustard
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • Juice from a ¾ fresh lemon
  • Black pepper on demand
  • Fresh green herbs for garnish

Iknow, I know. The juice from a ¾ fresh lemon is a curious quantity, given that there’s no such thing as a standard lemon.
Combine all the ingredients except for the tenderloins in a bowl and mix them well. Add the tenderloins and stir them to ensure that they are coated all over with marinade. You can do this in a plastic fridge container or more simply by placing all the ingredients, including the tenderloins, in a Ziploc bag. The bag routine allows for all the marinating agents to come into happy contact with the tenderloins.

Stick this in the fridge for 24 hours. Occasional visits to the fridge can be profitably used to give the Ziploc bag another squeeze or so to improve the marinating process. Cooking marinated tenderloins is marginally more complicated than boiling an egg. Select a heavy-based frying pan, pour in a tablespoon or two of extra virgin olive oil, bring this up to medium heat and fry the tenderloins until cooked through.

This should take about five minutes. Avoid overcooking as the tenderloins are lean and dry out very quickly. If you are planning to serve this as a starter, arrange three strips per plate with a few cherry tomatoes. Make a fresh bottle of red Tobasco available for those who want to rev up the marinade. Served cold, these marinated tenderloins lend themselves superbly to a lunchtime roll.

Cut the roll horizontally with two-thirds of the roll as the base. This gives structual intregrity to the handheld meal, preventing bits of it falling into your lap. Arrange rocket or lettuce or both on the base, then the cold marinated chicken tenderloins. Some slices of sweet and sour pickled cucumbers add to the crunch. Cut tomatoes into thin slices and reject the soft pulp, retaining only the rim of the wheel, so to speak. Add these to the collection of delights lining up on the base of the roll, secure in the knowledge that without the pulp, nothing will drip.

A teaspoon or two of mayonnaise will add to the combination of flavours. Don’t go overboard with this addition: a teaspoon is all you need as a flavour enhancement. Too much and the stuff oozes over your hands and totally dominates the flavour combination. Add the top of the roll and enjoy this magnificent addition to portable eating.