Daughter enjoys baked chicken, but Son will not eat it. He will, however, eat chicken nuggets from a certain well-known fast food outlet. So today I put together a recipe for a home-made, healthy version that I thought might appeal to both of them.
1) cut up raw chicken. most recipes say to use breasts but I used thighs because they tend to be more flavourful (and the store didn’t have any breasts that day)
2) put chicken in a food processor (I just got one for Christmas, which is what inspired me) and add a dash of salt and pepper if you like; pulse until it resembles ground chicken*
3) form into ping-pong sized balls and roll in flour
4) dip into a mixture of 1 egg, ~ 1/4 cup milk, and ~ 1/2 cup pureed vegetable (if you want to sneak some veggie goodness into the meals of children who absolutely will not eat ANY vegetables); I used sweet potato today, but you could use carrots or beets (the latter will impart some colour to the nuggets, which may or may not be a Good Thing depending on your children’s sense of adventure) or you can even use pureed spinach or broccoli (but since my kids have been known to reject an entire meal upon spotting a green speck of something vegetable-like I haven’t tried that yet). NOTE: I added the milk because the egg and veggie mixture was too thick; adjust for yourselves to get something more runny than lumpy
5) roll the dipped nuggets in a mixture of bread crumbs, grated parmesan cheese, and any spices you might want (I used plain ol’ seasoning salt; garlic and onion salt would also work, as would chopped fresh herbs – which I can’t use because of my kids’ aforementioned hatred of Food That Is Green)
6) flatten the ball a bit to get that classic Nugget shape and place on a cookie rack (the kind you cool cookies on) that is placed on a cookie sheet (I lined mine with foil b/c it makes it easier to clean). The cookie rack prevents sticking of the nugget to the tray and also allows for a crisper underside.
7) bake at 400 F for about 7 – 8 minutes, flip the nuggets and repeat; repeat again if necessary until they are cooked, firm and dry to the touch
eight) place under the broiler for about 5 minutes to crisp them up (when I tried to write the number 8 I got a smiley instead!)
9) serve with your favorite dip
Now I am one of those folks who cannot cook without EXACT amounts being dictated to me, however I managed this without needing to measure anything which tells you how easy that part is.
I plan to modify the breadcrumb mix next time by adding some flaxseed meal (which I sneak into whatever I can) and perhaps using Panko instead of breadcrumbs, which I think might make them more crunchy.
Overall I was very pleased with how they turned out. Despite Daughter’s thumbs-down I am going to add this to my repertoire of meal planning items because I can easily keep aside a couple of thighs and just bake them the usual way for her without too much extra trouble.
* you could always buy ground chicken but I didn’t for a reason; I haven’t bought conventional chicken in well over a year because I have ethical problems with the way those birds are raised, housed, and the generally miserable lives they lead (not to mention the resulting poorer quality of product that comes from a less-then-healthy animal). The only source of ethical chicken I can find around here comes only in whole birds, so pre-ground chicken is not available. I confess for today’s experiment I lowered my standards and bought conventional boneless, skinless thighs because I didn’t know if this would work out and couldn’t bear the thought of wasting the better part of a $25 chicken on a failed experiment. Now that I know the recipe works (I enjoyed them myself, which means not cooking different meals for adults and kids), I’ll spring for an ethically-raised bird next time.