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Tired of pizza? Here's a Buffalo chicken wing-inspired alternative for Super Bowl

Addie Broyles
Austin 360

Editor's note: The story was originally published on Aug. 2, 2020.

Pork rinds are having a moment.

Fueled by Americans’ growing love of snacking and specialty diets, pork rinds, and their skin-on cousin chicharrones, are taking up more of the chip aisle in the grocery store, and we’re even seeing vegan knockoffs that mimic the airy crunch of the real thing.

The distinguishable crunch that makes pork rinds so great for munching on while on a road trip or sitting by a river is also what inspires cooks like Rocco DiSpirito to use them in the kitchen. DiSpirito recently adopted a ketogenic diet, and he’s ditched traditional breadcrumbs for ground pork rinds. 

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In this recipe for Buffalo-style breaded chicken tenders, he coats the meat in crushed pork rinds instead of panko. This not only adds flavors to the dish, but it also increases the fat content in the dish, which key if you’re trying to eat a diet where 70% of your daily calorie intake comes from fat. 

Keto is the reverse of how many Americans were eating during the low-fat years, but plenty of people swear by it. I’m diet agnostic, but I absolutely love pork rinds, homemade ranch dressing and Buffalo chicken, and my kids love chicken tenders. With so many vegan proteins on the market, as well as those vegan pork rinds — Pig Out is one worth noting — you could certainly adapt this to a meat-free dish, if that’s your dietary preference.

Chef Rocco DiSpirito's Buffalo Chicken Salad from his cookbook "Rocco's Keto Comfort Food Diet."

Buffalo Chicken Salad

To me, there’s nothing more appetizing than Buffalo chicken wings. I decided to “wing” it by creating a salad that would impart all the great flavors of this dish. It features chicken tenders rather than wings, coated in a taste bud-tantalizing Buffalo sauce. And what is Buffalo chicken without ranch dressing? It’s all here — enjoy!

— Rocco DiSpirito

For the chicken: 

  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • Celtic sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups pork rinds, pulsed in a food processor to resemble panko (about 1/2 cup ground)
  • 1/2 pound chicken tenders
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted grass-fed butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup hot sauce

For the ranch dressing:

  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/3 cup full-fat buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coconut aminos
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery salt 1 clove garlic, grated
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • Celtic sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

For the salad:

  • 8 cups chopped romaine lettuce (1 1/2 to 2 heads)
  • 2 stalks celery, thinly sliced on the diagonal
  • 2 scallions, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese

Set up a dredging station: Place the eggs in a large bowl or shallow baking dish and season with salt and pepper. Place the ground pork rinds in a separate bowl or shallow baking dish. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Dip the chicken in the eggs and then in the ground pork rinds, shaking off any excess.

In a cast-iron skillet or heavy-bottomed pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Working in batches if necessary, add the chicken tenders to the pan without crowding and cook until golden brown and cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Remove to a plate lined with paper towels. When cool enough to handle, cut the chicken into 1-inch pieces.

In a large bowl, stir together the melted butter and hot sauce. Toss the fried chicken tenders lightly in the butter mixture.

To make the dressing, in a large bowl, whisk together the sour cream, mayonnaise, buttermilk, lemon juice, coconut aminos, celery salt, garlic, chives and parsley until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Make the salad: Divide the romaine among 6 plates and top with celery, scallions, and blue cheese. Serve the creamy ranch dressing on the side. (Alternatively, toss the romaine, celery, scallions, blue cheese, and ranch dressing in a large bowl until evenly coated.) Place the chicken on top of the salad and serve. Serves 6. 

Others are reading:How to make Super Bowl-worthy chicken wings at home

— From “Rocco's Keto Comfort Food Diet” by Rocco DiSpirito (Rodale Books, $27.99)