Ah… the chicken nugget. I’m pretty sure these were invented at some point when I was a child, and have since become a total kid food staple. My boys love em, whether they’re the McDonalds nuggets or frozen dinosaur shaped ones or anything in between. They’re also ridiculously easy (the processed variety that is).
So my first step in the less processed process is to come up with an alternative to the chicken nugget. The most obvious choice would be chicken nuggets made simply by cutting chicken breast into bite size pieces, breading it and either frying or baking it. Unfortunately, my youngest son is so picky that he won’t eat chicken (or other meat) that hasn’t been chopped up into something that doesn’t really resemble the original product. So I’m attempting to do a more processed chicken nugget.
I found a recipe online, and had actually tried it a couple weeks ago. In the recipe, you grind the chicken breast up in the food processor with some spices, then make balls out of the ensuing goo, bread them and fry them. The result I ended up with was tasty, but ridiculously hard to make (imagine trying to bread a little ball of goo) and the boys didn’t go for it because it just looked to weird to them.
This time, I ground up the chicken breast with some onion powder and garlic salt in the food processor, the spread the goo into a sheet pan lined with tin foil. I put that into the freezer for about an hour and cut it into uniform little squares. I then dipped these in flour, egg wash and breadcrumbs and baked them.
My results ended up a bit mixed, and also unscientifically messed up. For one thing, while I was in the kitchen with very messy hands breading partially frozen squares of chicken goo, my middle son got into a box of graham crackers, which he shared with the youngest. So… by dinner time the two of them were completely not hungry. (Damn our house that has virtually no cupboards – thus the graham crackers on a shelf where the nearly 4 year old can quickly grab them. And the fact that the closed floor plan means I have no view of the main area while in the kitchen, and when up to my elbows in chicken goo and breading I have to rely on listening to know if the boys are up to no good). So, I have no idea if the youngest two would have like them since they didn’t touch any of their dinner.
There were a couple of things to be learned from this attempt though. One, the uniform shape thing may work since when I put them on the table, my youngest did respond with an enthusiastic “Chitten”. Two, I need to make the goo thicker next time. In order not to make the chicken totally dry, I ended up not getting a nice crispy breading. And so the 6 year old ate them, but complained about a couple “yucky” spots where the breading was soggy. Once I get these right, I will post an actual recipe. For now, they were okay, but not good enough to share.
On the plus side, even though I spent an hour making these to a very lackluster response, the boys had gotten me a bottle of wine for my birthday a couple days ago – a red blend Daddy helped them pick out at Trader Joes, marked solely with a question mark. And my “mystery wine” as the nearly 4 year old calls it wasn’t half bad and took a little of the sting away.