Many home cooks are perplexed by the inclusion of the tough nubs at the ends of their uncooked chicken tenders. You can't eat them easily, so you may wonder what, if anything, you should do with them. You should trim them off and discard them to prevent them from forming a chewy piece of gristle at the end of your cooked chicken tender.
Chicken tenders are the tenderest portion of the chicken breast. The breast meat is stripped off the bones during processing, and the tenders are sliced from the rest of the breast meat. These tenders are then frozen and packaged. You may notice a tendon -- a little nub at the end of the piece of chicken. This is because the tendon gets cut during the stripping step. Processors may not take the extra step of trimming the tendon nub unless it is specified by the wholesaler.
How to Trim Off The Tendon
You can trim off the little white nub of tendon with a knife or kitchen shears. Unless the tendon is very strong and gristly throughout the piece of chicken, you don't need to worry about removing it entirely. The tendon inside the chicken tender becomes paper-thin inside the meat, and you won't notice it after it is cooked. In fact, stripping away the entire tendon might make the chicken tender fall apart. Discard the tough pieces of tendon nub; you don't need them and they aren't useful in any other way. Your pets might even have a difficult time chewing them.
What to Do if I Missed A Tendon Nub
After cooking the meat you may discover that you missed a bit of tendon at the end of a chicken tender. Don't worry about it. Simply pull it off or use a knife to remove it. The tendon can't hurt you. However, if you have prepared breaded nuggets for small children, you might gently squeeze the ends of the other nuggets between your fingers to ensure that you haven't missed any other tendons. A small child might choke on the chewy tendon.
Removing The Entire Tendon
Some people simply can't stand the thought of eating the chicken tendon. If you absolutely want to be sure that you have eliminated all pieces of tendon from the chicken tenders, cut the tenders in half lengthwise near the tendon and gently pull out the tendon fibers. Discard any pieces of chicken meat that separate with the tendon if they are too small for your cooking purposes, or reserve them for use in soup or for a stir-fry.
Natalie Smith is a technical writing professor specializing in medical writing localization and food writing. Her work has been published in technical journals, on several prominent cooking and nutrition websites, as well as books and conference proceedings. Smith has won two international research awards for her scholarship in intercultural medical writing, and holds a PhD in technical communication and rhetoric.
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