Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Home Made Chicken Nuggets

Ah the simple things in life. Good old chicken nuggets. Fried, unhealthy but delicious, right? Add a good dipping sauce and it is many kids favorite meal. So can you make a tasty chicken nugget without oil and fat? The answer I just discovered, is YES.
I made some of these baked chicken nuggets a week or so ago, just for me, and while I enjoyed them, I thought they needed something flavor-wise, and they were a tad dry. But overall, crispy and enjoyable.
So we had some of 'our kids' over to spend the night. They range in age from 7 to 15. Besides that there are several with rather picky tastebuds. When I mentioned chicken nuggets they were all agreed that that sounded good. Then I mentioned I was going to make them. That was followed by looks of disbelief. 'Make' chicken nuggets? Don't you just heat them in the oven or microwave?? I could see the thoughts running through their brains. After many reassurances that they would indeed like them, I had some help in the making process, and many more questioning looks and comments. It was obvious that home made chicken nuggets just didn't compute.
So, I made the nuggets, got them baking and threw some frozen corn to boil on the stove and sliced up some apples to go along. Eric mixed up some chocolate milk to drink and before you know it we were set. The apples went fast, and the corn surprisingly was almost all gone before I even got a chance to get any. The chicken nuggets were eyed with suspicion. Then the 9 year old got some, followed by the 7 year old. They tried them, look surprised, and ate some more. The older girls were still hesitant, but seeing the boys enjoying them helped spur them on. Of course being hungry probably helped too. The most picky one of all, after she finally tried them, came back for extra helpings.
So I asked later if they were good chicken nuggets and all admitted with surprise in their voices, 'yea'! All that was left was crumbs. :)
Below you will find the recipe for the nuggets, but here is what I have found.
1.) Get the pre-cooked diced breast meat chicken pieces that Kroger sells in the frozen food section. When you are getting ready to cover them, watch for the occasional dark piece, not dark meat, like a grisly spot. There are a few in each bag, but overall, you save yourself a ton of time! You could also use the breast strips if you want bigger pieces. The diced pieces are very small at times, but still work and are still tasty.
2.) Forget measuring the amount of bread crumbs. You want a 2/3 to 1/3 split between the two kinds of bread crumbs and about 25% of the whole batch needs to be the Parmesan cheese. I used freshly grated, but you are welcome to try the sprinkle kind, and let me know how it works. This adds a lot of flavor, so I would not skip it. So if you have 2/3 C of Italian seasoned bread crumbs, you need 1/3 C panko crumbs for crispiness, and about 1/4 C Parmesan cheese.
3.) Pepper. Lots of it. I am not a huge pepper fan and I skimped on that the last time, and it needed a lot more.
4.) The recipe calls for oil, but I used pan spray the last time, and it worked better and is fat free.
5.) Use a LARGE mixing bowl to spray coat the chicken pieces.
6.) Leave the chicken frozen, it stays more moist when cooking.


Healthy Baked Chicken Nuggets
16 oz skinless boneless chicken breasts, cut into even bit sized pieces
2 tsp olive oil
6 tbsp whole wheat Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
2 tbsp panko
2 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 425°. Spray a baking sheet with spray.
Season chicken with salt and pepper, then put in a bowl and drizzle with the olive oil and mix well so the olive oil evenly coats all of the chicken. Or use the pan spray. Spray heavily, shake the bowl and spray again. Do this several times til the chicken looks wet. Put a few chunks of chicken at a time into the breadcrumb mixture to coat, use a slotted spoon and shake the excess off. Place them on the baking sheet. Lightly spray the top with spray then bake 8 - 10 minutes. Turnover then cook another 4 - 5 minutes or until cooked though.

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