If you have small, mid and teen sized children then you’re well aware of the allure, the addiction, the absolute obsession that children of all ages have for the chicken nugget. And if you’re intelligent enough to have read all the Women’s Weekly, Parenting Monthly (?) and Donna Hay magazines, you know just how much crap actually goes into those bite sized morsels of fools gold. I’m sure you guys know how to make chicken nuggets from scratch, but have you experimented with bits of this n that?
Look, I worked at Macca’s for 3 years as a teenager and over the late night close shifts, probably scarfed enough McNuggets to make an actual entire chicken breast, and I will not lie and say my kids don’t eat Macca’s, snort, of course they do, but it’s cheaper, quicker and heaps healthier to make them yourself. And if I can do it on a Saturday evening at 5pm (and frankly I’m one of the laziest mothers on the planet), then so can you.
Ingredients – I’m going to state the bleeding obvious here, just go with me, these are approximate
- 1kg chicken breasts
- 4c panko breadcrumbs – if you haven’t used panko, you simply must! They will revolutionise the way you bread and deep fry items. They’re a Japanese white crumb, much akin to shredded coconut in texture. LOVE them
- 1/2c grated parmesan – add more if you like em cheesy
- 1c flour for dredging
- 2 or 3 eggs and a couple of dashes of milk – I’m economical and don’t just use eggs, I make it go a little further by whisking in a couple of TB of milk
- 3 to 4 TB fresh herbs from your garden – I used parsley and thyme today, but you could use whatever you have. I’ve used tarragon, small amounts of rosemary, oregano, pizza thyme, sage. You could substitute dried herbs, but they are stronger so go easier on them
- 1/4c Franks Red Hot sauce – this is an American hot sauce, it’s not that hot, it’s really quite mild, but you can get different levels of hotness. You can get this magical elixir in the Woolies sauce aisle now, this makes THE Bestever Buffalo wings, but that’s for another day
- 1Tb Franks Hot Sauce
- 1/2c mayo
- couple of dashes of lemon juice to taste
I’m sure you’ve all breadcrumbed (or breaded) meats before, but I will give a bit of a run down in case you haven’t zooshed it up with herbs and hot sauce before. Get yourself 3 containers, in the first add the flour and season with salt and pepper; in the second, crack the eggs and throw in a couple of splashes of milk, beat it with a fork until it’s well whisked together; in the third add 2 cups of the panko breadcrumbs, the parmesan and the finely chopped fresh herbs, mix til well combined. The hot sauce comes later.
Take half the chopped into bitesizes pieces of chicken and dredge first into the flour until well covered. No matter how many hints, tips and youtube videos you watch for breading food, you’re going to get dirty and you will end up with a third of the mix under your fingernails, that ends up like cement if you don’t wash it off quick enough. I’ve tried every trick in the book, gloves, forks, bags, children to avoid the fat breaded sausage finger look, but it’s easier if you just give in and get messy.
Transfer the chicken from the flour to the egg/milk and toss, coat with the liquid until well covered. Drag into the breadcrumb mix and toss about til all the wet bits are covered. Use your fingers to squeeze, pat and cajole the crumbs into place. Do this until you’ve completed the lot, stick the first lot into the fridge and start the second component. Add the hot sauce to the remaining eggy milk. You will notice this actually starts to coagulate, but don’t worry, add a little more milk if you find it’s far too gluggy. You should’ve used up all the breadcrumbs at this stage. Add the second 2 cups to the same container and start the program all over again. Flour, hot eggy sauce, breadcrumbs. Fridge.
I use my electric fry pan for this, but by all means you can pop them into the oven if that’s your prerogative. Using Vegie oil, I fill the pan about a thumbwidth full, enough to shallow fry, not deep fry. When the oil is hot enough that it sizzles when you drop in some breadcrumbs, fry the nuggets in batches until golden brown and cooked through, remembering that they will continue to cook when you take them out of the oil. I find that letting them cool on a cake rack over paper towel keeps them crispy, they don’t go soggy as they do when sitting on a plate.
At the beginning of the nugget process, I chuck chips into the oven with a little oil and after about 30 minutes, shake them so they break up a little, giving the crunchy edge but soft pillow like potato in the middle. When cooked, I also salt them in the tray, and shake vigorously so everything is evenly coated.
To make the dipping sauce, add all the ingredients into a bowl and stir, adjust, taste and stir til you get it just how you like it.