Shamleless Plug

I'm embarking on a new part of my life that is happier and going in a direction! It's really refreshing.

I was married May 19th, 2012 to a great guy I met at the C.I.A and we're go excited to embark on a life together. He has as culinary degree to match my baking and pastry degree. It's going to be a Good life.

I hope you enjoy my thoughts on food and cooking. I am but a humble baker, who happens to love cooking and embraces the joy of food.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Chicken Nuggets

What do you think of when you think of Chicken nuggets? Is it childhood dinners of amoeba wonky shaped chicken from the freezer with a side of mac and cheese? Or sitting down to a happy meal with pink goo compressed into a "chicken nugget"?

Ask a dozen children what their favorite food is and chances are chicken nuggets are on the top 8. There's even a Tyson commerical vouching for that fact.

I was  am a chicken nugget lover. From Purdue's Fun shapes as a child to Trader Joe's "Drummets", even the alluring veggie nuggets. As long as it was crispy and had a good dip to go with it, I was and am a happy camper.

Now my tastes have changed. My chicken nugget with a side of fries has grown into something slightly more sophisticated. I've traded in fries for salad. And I've traded in the frozen stuff for my own fresh variety.

I made chicken nuggets tonight, and as most things are, they were better than the frozen stuff you can buy. They take a little longer to make, but they are worth the time.
Some people might think making your own chicken nuggets is a grievous task. Well...I suppose if you have a few kids, and you and your spouse work (if you have one) and you just got off of work and soccer practice and there's homework to be done and..... Yes. I totally get you....And you're killing my argument, buddy. Stick with me for a second.

But there's something you might not realize. Chicken nuggets require pantry ingredients. The only thing you need to buy or thaw out is the chicken breast or boneless/skinless chicken thighs.A little prep work and bada bing! You have dinner.

I took out skinless chicken thighs from the freezer this morning, and when Matt got home, he deboned and cut them into small chunks. Two chicken thighs yielded 14 nuggets. He dredged them in flour, egg and our own seasoned breadcrumbs and set them aside. It only took about 15 minutes.

Neither of us were very hungry yet. Well, I was, but I didn't want to eat so early. So I threw in potatoes to bake, washed lettuce for a salad and let the chicken nuggets sit on the counter.

When we were getting ready to eat and the baked potatoes were done, I heated up a medium pan with a shallow amount of oil. I only fried 7 at a time; about 3 minutes per side.
They bubbled and made that lovely noise. You know the noise. The sizzly cracking noise that instigates hunger?  The smell of frying breadcrumbs ascends the nose. When you turn them at just the right moment when they are the right shade of golden brown without even checking them and you think "Damn, I'm good!".

These chicken nuggets really aren't bad for you. If cooked at the right oil temperature you'll be enjoying perfectly crispy, non-oily chicken nuggets. They're possibly a little better than the brands: You know every ingredient going into the meal. No Sodium Phosphate, no Potassium Lactate, no Guar Gum, All of these ingriedents can be found here on a package of Purdue Fun Shapes chicken nuggets. But with your chicken nuggets you have chicken, egg, flour, and the bread crumbs (and bonus points if the bread crumbs are all natural!).

And they are delicious! Chicken nuggets made by hand are crispy and flavorful. The trick is you buy or make the breadcrumbs plain, and then season to your own taste. None of that "Italian Seasoning" if you don't want it. How about Spanish? Or you just want to go to town with a lot of paprika?

But my winning argument is this. If you're a busy parent, these can be made ahead of time. Got some time Sunday night? Prepare a batch of chicken nuggets. Only don't cook them. Wrap and keep in the fridge and if you plan on eating them in two or three days you're golden (brown).

Meanwhile, our dinner came out fabulously crunchy. All kinds of crunch. The prep and cook time was only about 25 minutes. We paired it with a simple salad, the wet crunch of iceberg marrying the dry crisp of the nugget. Add a drizzle of honey Dijon dressing and you have all kinds of captivating flavors going on. 

I wish I'd remembered to take a picture, but the nuggets looked like mini chicken cutlets. I really like using boneless/skinless chicken thighs for nuggets.Thighs are a little firmer than chicken breast, so for me they aren't my first choice for baking. But chicken thighs in nuggets is perfect. The flavor of the chicken is compressed in the thighs, and you don't really notice the firmness when they are sliced in bite sized pieces.

Making your own chicken nuggets is less embarrassing than having a package of drummets in your freezer. They are slightly impressive looking sitting on a bed of salad greens. Or stabbed with toothpicks with a fancy cheese dip on an Hors d'Ĺ“uvre platter. Even on your kid's dinner plate.

Trust me. Try making your own chicken nuggets once, and you wont regret it.



Anonymous said...[Reply]

I have always wanted to make my nuggets. You made it sound so easy, and yummy...

Jenni said...[Reply]

It is easy! You just have to fabricate the chicken you're using: Skin it and cut it into small bite sized pieces. Coat it with flour and beaten raw egg. Then into seasoned bread crumbs. You just need to pan fry it in a shallow amount of oil for 2-3 minutes per side, or until a meat thermometer reaches 165 when inserted into the thickest part.

You can even keep them warm on a sheet pan in a low oven.

Soo tasty and easy! You gotta try it.

Leslie said...[Reply]

That sounds good - I've been craving chicken nuggets all day...

My friend makes them coated in breadcrumbs (or crushed cornflakes) along with coconut flakes, curry powder, garlic powder, and a little red pepper.

It's a flavor explosion of nuggets! (and amazingly tasty)

I think I know what I am making for dinner tonight. :)