Homemade Chicken Nuggets

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My husband and I are both chefs. We dread the day when our kids start spending the night at friend’s houses.  We can just hear them now…  “What kind of hors d oeuvres will you be offering this evening?” “Frozen Pizza?  What is frozen pizza?” “You mean your mom didn’t make you a butterscotch cake with white chocolate buttercream frosting, covered in french macaroons for your birthday?”

In my quest to control the ingredients and the cost of the food I put on my family table, I have developed these chicken nuggets.  I used to buy the Applegate brand, but could no longer justify the suspect ingredients and $6.99/box price.  Besides, I’ve never been comfortable with chicken nuggets. Tell me, what part of the chicken does the nugget come from?

This recipe took some trial and error.  I tried many versions of cutting up chicken and marinating it, but I just couldn’t get the flavor and texture right.  Finally it dawned on me.  I had to grind the chicken meat and treat it like a meatball to get the proper texture and flavor.  This might seem like a lot of steps, but they are simple, and you can make a very large batch to freeze.  These nuggets freeze very well.  You can pull several out and place them right in a preheated oven.  It’s worth the time.  It will save you a lot of time later, and you will feel so good about making and serving these to your family.  How could you not want any less than the best for these two?

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Start with placing a large pot of water on the stove.  Bring the water to a low simmer, and add 1 Tablespoon of kosher salt.

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You will need 2 pounds of ground chicken.  You can either grind it yourself or buy it ground.  I like to know what’s in my ground meat.  If I’m shopping at a large supermarket, I’ll buy the chicken and ask the butcher behind the counter to grind it for me.   I will also buy ground chicken and turkey from the counter at places like Earthfare, Whole Foods, or The Fresh Market where I know they grind it in house.  Place the meat in a stainless steel bowl and add the seasonings:  2 Tblsps tamari soy sauce, 1 tsp Diamond Krystal kosher salt, 1 tsp black pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon onion powder.

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Mix well until all of the seasonings are evenly distributed throughout the meat. Form the meat into quarter sized balls.  I like to use a tablespoon for measuring.  Tip:  If your hands are wet, the meat won’t stick to your hands. Form the balls and gently drop them into the simmering water.

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Once you have all of the meatballs in the water, wait another couple of minutes until all of the meatballs are cooked.

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Transfer the meatballs with a slotted spoon to a sheet pan lined with paper towels.  Allow the meatballs to cool completely.

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In the meantime, you can prep the breading station.  I use three pyrex casserole dishes.    In the first dish, measure 1 1/2 cups of a-p flour.

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In the second dish, whisk together 3 eggs and 1 cup buttermilk until well combined.

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In the third dish, measure 2 cups panko bread crumbs, 1 Tblsp Diamond Krystal kosher salt, 1 tsp onion powder, 1 tsp garlic powder, and 1 tsp black pepper. Stir mixture with a whisk to distribute the seasonings throughout the breadcrumbs.

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Now the breading station is ready.

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Once the meatballs are cooled.  First, coat them in the flour.20130601_190143

Then the egg mixture.

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Lastly, coat the meatballs in the breadcrumb mixture.

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Place the breaded meatballs on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper in a single layer.

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Once all of the nuggets are breaded, place the sheet pan in the freezer. Once the nuggets are frozen, transfer them to a freezer bag.  Keep the nuggets in your freezer for up to two months.

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Before dinner time, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Pull however many nuggets out of the freezer that you might need. Place on a parchment-lined sheet pan.  Cook for 15-20 minutes until golden brown.  Your kids will love them (and so will you)!

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HOMEMADE CHICKEN NUGGETS RECIPE

For the meatballs:

2 pounds ground chicken

2 Tablespoons tamari soy sauce

1 tsp Diamond Krystal kosher salt (use half the amount if using Morton’s)

1 tsp black pepper

1/2 tsp onion powder

For the breading mixture:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

3 eggs

1 cup buttermilk

2 cups panko breadcrumbs

1 Tablespoon Diamon Krystal kosher salt (use half the amount if using Morton’s)

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp onion powder

1 tsp black pepper

Procedure:

1. Place a large pot of water on the stove.  Bring to a low simmer, and add 1 Tablespoon kosher salt.

2.  Place ground chicken in a stainless steel bowl.  Add soy sauce, 1 tsp kosher salt, 1 tsp black pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon onion powder.  Mix well until seasonings are evenly distributed throughout meat.

3. With wet hands, form the ground meat mixture into quarter-sized balls.  Measuring with a tablespoon helps to keep the size consistent.

4.  As you form each ball, gently drop it into the simmering water.

5.  Once all the balls are in the water.  Wait another two minutes until the balls are cooked.

6.  Using a slotted spoon, transfer the meatballs to a sheet pan lined with paper towels.  Allow the meatballs to cool completely.

7.  While the meatballs are cooling, set up the breading station.   Use three baking dishes or bowls. In the first dish, measure the a-p flour.

8.  In the second dish, whisk together the eggs and the buttermilk.

9.  Lastly, in the third dish, measure the panko bread crumbs, the garlic powder, and the remaining kosher salt, pepper, and onion powder.  Stir with a whisk to combine.

10.  Set up the dishes in a row.  Coat each meatball first with the flour, the egg, and lastly the bread crumb mixture.

11.  Place breaded meatballs on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper in a single layer.

12.  Place the sheet pan in the freezer.  Once the nuggets are frozen, transfer them to a freezer bag.  Store in the freezer for up to two months.

When you are ready to enjoy some chicken nuggets, preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Pull out as many nuggets as you need.  Place them on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.  Cook in the oven for 15-20 minutes until golden brown.

 

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