I couldn’t tell you the exact first time I ate a chicken nugget. Usually, a new food experience sticks in my brain like cement, but this one apparently didn’t rank very high in my memory. Which is fine. I do know that while I was pregnant, I was desperate for a source of protein that wasn’t either beans or heavy meat. I needed something lighter, but that would still count as part of my 100 gram intake on the Bradley diet. I then discovered that a chicken nugget (standard size) was worth 5 grams per nugget. If I ate 5 on a salad, I had reach 1/4th of my goal for the day! It was during this time, that I purchased at least 1 bag of nuggets each grocery trip.
Life was good, I was loving my nuggets until Jamie. I’ve always like Jamie Oliver and when he was scheduled to have a prime time show on nutrition in our school systems, I was all over it. I watched each week and cried along with him as he battled the overwhelming lack of concern by consumers and parents. He kept harping on the chicken patties and nuggets that were served and I wasn’t certain why. For sure, they have tons of preservatives in them, but honestly, it does say “white meat” on the bags, so what else could there be? And then he showed how they were produced. I gagged. The day before I had purchased a brand spanking new bag of nuggets and they were in my freezer condemning me. They have sat in that freezer for a good 2 months now. I can’t bear to throw them away, but there is no way I will be eating those things.
The good news is that after an exhaustive search, I have discovered about 947 different ways to make your own chicken nuggets at home. Everyone has an opinion and personal tastes, so I took what I saw and played around. What I came up with worked for us. But if you are short on time, the quickest method for making your own seems to be to simply chop up a chicken breast, bread it and bake it at 400 degrees for 12-14 minutes. Since I had read that the dark meat made the nuggets juicier than the plain white meat, I chose to use a whole chicken for my nuggets. I also chose to bake and not fry mine since I am feeding a baby this food. And although my method took me far more time to put together than I had planned on, it should be mentioned that Liam is teething and cranky and that puts a wrench in even the best laid plans! On the upside, Liam has scarfed these nuggets down like I haven’t fed him in days. Today he rejected my awesome beans in favor of only eating the chicken!
Homemade Chicken Nuggets
- 1 3-4 pound chicken, washed and seasoned thoroughly
- 1 1/2 cups bread crumbs
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. paprika
- 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp. pepper
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1/2 cup milk
Begin by placing the whole chicken in your crock pot and cooking it on low for 8-10 hours. I did this over night and the next morning was greeted with a perfectly tender and juicy bird. Strip the meat from the bones and discard your waste. Once the meat has cooled, chop it finely. (You could always do this step in the food processor, but I wanted to have bits of meat, not goo.) Combine the bread crumbs, salt, pepper, paprika and garlic powder in a shallow dish. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat. Mix the 2 beaten eggs and milk together and place them in a bowl. In a third bowl, put about 1/4 cup of flour for the intial dusting. Take a small handful of the meat and press it into a small patty, if it won’t stick well, add some of the juice from the slow cooker. Once you have the size and shape you desire, cover the nugget with flour to coat the meat. Then dip it in the egg/milk mixture and finally roll it in the seasoned bread crumbs. Place each nugget on the baking sheet; it isn’t necessary to leave room between them. Bake them at 400 degrees for about 12 minutes. I used whole wheat bread crumbs so they were nice and browned and served them with barbecue sauce. I think somewhere on this Earth, Jamie was proud.
For your budding foodie: This is something that shouldn’t be served until your baby is over 9 months. Since I chose to dice the meat up, when I break the nugget apart for my little guy, the meat is still chewable and he gets to experience texture. I didn’t put the barbecue sauce on his since I thought it would be too spicy, but he’s a fan of my ranch dressing, so I did that instead!