Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Torteelia Encrusted Tenders

"Thank you for calling the Legislative Cafeteria. No one is able to answer your call..."

One of the peculiar pleasures of being a state employee who works in the Downtown State Government Complex is lunching at the Legislative Cafeteria. It's not great cuisine, but it's reasonably priced and convenient. Also, you never know who you might see or what you might overhear.

Even if I bring lunch or live large and go to a real restaurant, I sometimes can't resist calling the information line just to hear what's on the menu -- which is, with rare exception, the exact same thing week after week.

My favorite item -- to hear, definitely not to eat -- is a standard Tuesday special, which the uber-serious speaker carefully and emphatically pronounces as "Torteelia Encrusted Tilapia." On a slow or especially stressful day, there's just nothing so guaranteed to make me laugh. Especially on speaker phone.

So tonight, in affectionate tribute, I made Torteelia Encrusted Tenders. It's hardly a recipe, and there's little chance of rubbing elbows with legislators or reporters in my kitchen, but it does make for a quick and easy weeknight dinner.

Whether you make this or not, on some future Tuesday after 11 a.m., call 919-715-4806 to hear about the fish o' the day. Crank up the speaker phone and enjoy.

1 pkg. boneless, skinless chicken tenders
chile-lime seasoning (such as Tajin)
salt, pepper
1/3 cup Newman's Own Light Lime Vinaigrette
hot sauce, to taste
leftover favorite tortilla chips, crushed

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Season chicken tenders with salt, pepper and chile-lime seasoning; place in small bowl. Pour lime vinaigrette and hot sauce over chicken tenders and stir to coat. Let sit at least 10 minutes (if longer, refrigerate).

Thoroughly crush tortilla chips in bag. Drop tenders into bag, two at a time. Scrunch the bag top and shake well to coat; repeat until done.

Arrange tenders on cookie cooling rack (or similar) coated with vegetable oil spray. Place over rimmed sheet pan of catch excess crumbles and bake 30 minutes or until done and crispy.

Optional dipping sauce:  Mix 2-3 tbsp. light sour cream or Greek yogurt with an equal amount of your favorite salsa, stir well.

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