Upgrade Your Fried Chicken Tenders with a Delicious Sweet and Spicy Sauce

Do you find yourself hesitating at the idea of frying chicken? Do you struggle with the proper technique and timing? Does the mess and splattering seem overwhelming?

Then envision frying chicken for 11 hours a day, nonstop, for two consecutive days, to cater to over 100,000 people. And doing it outdoors, with portable fryers, under tents. This ambitious feat is what more than 40 food vendors will undertake at the sixth annual National Fried Chicken Festival, taking place from September 30 to October 1, on the shores of Lake Pontchartrain in New Orleans.

The participating vendors include local mom-and-pop restaurants, well-known chains, food trucks, and caterers. One of them is Heard Dat Kitchen, operated by Jeffery Heard Sr. and his children Tia’Nesha Heard-Dorset, Angel Aaliyah Heard, and Jeffery Heard Jr. Located in New Orleans, Heard Dat Kitchen serves daily crowds of hungry customers by preparing fresh, homemade food in their compact kitchen and serving it through a window to a line of regulars.

Get the recipe: Sweet and Sour Fried Chicken Tenders

Heard Dat Kitchen will be serving their signature dish “Bourbon Street Love,” consisting of fried boneless thighs served over macaroni and cheese and topped with a crawfish “crawdat” cream sauce. They will also offer “skeesh” strips, fried chicken strips tossed in a housemade sweet and spicy sauce. The Heard family is accustomed to working quickly and efficiently, exemplified by the two clocks in their kitchen set 15 minutes apart. One tells the time, while the other serves as a reminder for the cook to promptly complete the order.

According to Jeffery Heard Sr., timing and precision are crucial when it comes to frying chicken. Overfrying will result in dry meat, so even a minute or two can make a difference. Sauces are added just before serving to maintain the chicken’s crispiness. Heard, recognizing the importance of presentation, takes care to plate the food properly, even when it’s packed in takeout containers.

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