Homemade Chicken nuggets. I know I know, yet another blog post making you feel inadequate for feeding your kids shop bought processed food. I promise I won’t judge you, all I ask is that you read my story of homemade chicken nugget epiphany.
A few years ago I would never (ever) have believed you if you told me I would be making homemade nuggets for my kids. I mean it never even crossed my mind. I didn’t even think it possible in a real kitchen. I always thought it’s some magic machinery that produced them. Let’s just say home-made chicken nuggets were amongst all those other ‘made from scratch’ foods (like marshmallows and macaroons and pasta …) that I did not think I had the patience or cooking talent to even attempt.
I would have been happy to feed my kids shop bought ready frozen ones but not hubby. Nope. Thank goodness for us he is a bit of a health freak… I bought frozen chicken nuggets home once and he said – ‘please don’t feed this to the kids -why don’t you try making it at home?’ I was not exactly happy about this – I felt like replying ‘Ok why don’t YOU try making them at home?’ Instead I just saved those nuggets and ate them myself as a guilty pleasure while he was on nights. That was also the last time I ever bought them.
I did try a few times the old – buy some chicken breast, cut it up in small cubes and cover it up in breadcrumbs method but that just didn’t win any prizes with my then three year old. He wanted the real thing. He wanted the taste of processed chicken nuggets.
Then one day, during a dinner party we were at, I saw my son eating something with great gusto. As every mother with a picky eater will tell you, I needed to know immediately what it was. Our lovely Syrian host, told me it was ‘home made salami’ (salami?! home made? And it tasted AMAZING.) She assured me it was easy but I know she must have sensed my reluctance to believe that because she very kindly offered to come over to my house sometime and show me how to make it.
I am a real klutz at cooking, honestly, so over time I forgot the exact arabic and syrian spices and amounts of each ingredient, but I remembered the basic principles and method of cooking a raw meat to make it taste ‘processed’.
I hope if she ever reads this she will forgive me for messing up her recipe and turning it on its head to make ‘un-processed’ processed chicken nuggets for my kids.
Syrian Salami Inspired Un-processed ‘Processed’ Chicken Nuggets.
You could even make a batch and freeze them. In fact, definitely make a batch and freeze them. Although this is a straight forward recipe that I have made numerous times, the really best thing about this is that it is a great ‘back to school’ kind of a dish. You know, those days when you just want to grab something from the freezer that will take minutes to prepare. These nuggets can be frozen and then taken out for a super quick, healthy meal good for your kids at anytime. You really don’t want to make like 10 nuggets and then start all over again when the kids have gobbled them up and are asking for more (and they will ask for more).
Here’s what you need ~
A pot of boiling water, 2-3 tbs of vinegar, 2-3 tbs tomato puree.
Around 600g chicken mince (either breast or thigh or mixed) 600g will make aprox 30-40 nuggets depending on the size.
Bread crumbs (I use shop bought – you won’t need more than one packet. If the breadcrumbs are coarse then crush them so they are fine before using)
Salt to taste
1 tsp Black pepper ground
1 heaped tsp Garlic powder (I have tried this with fresh garlic and Garlic powder is way better)
1-2 heaped tsp Dried parsley (any herbs will do).
If you have some smoked paprika, keep in a tsp or two of that, if not no problem.
And because I am desi and basically have indian spices running through my blood, I added a pinch of fennel powder and turmeric powder too! It’s like no cooking is complete unless I add something (anything!) from my spice cupboard. Feel free to totally ignore this part but I know there are some of you who know what I mean! However this is definitely not a must – you can add any spices you want or none but best to keep it simple for that chicken nugget taste, esp for the kids )
The tsp measurements are just an approximate – you will know if you want to add a bit more or a bit less of each.
So here’s what to do ~
Put a pot of water to boil.
Take some tomato puree or Blitz one tomato (I used my magic bullet)
Once water is boiling add the vinegar and the tomato puree to it to it. Keep it ready.
Add the garlic powder, salt, parsley and black pepper (and any other spices) to the ground/minced chicken
Beat the egg and pour around half of it into the chicken.
Keep the other half aside. The chicken mixture will be very gloopy now.
Add 2-3 tbs of bread crumbs. Mix. The bread crumbs give it consistency. Add more breadcrumbs if the mixture is still gloopy. The consistency should be such that you can start forming nugget shapes. Blitz all of this in a food processor so that it’s really smooth. Rub a little oil on your hands and start to form little nugget shapes by forming small meatballs and pressing down a little to flatten.
Make the shapes a little smaller than you’d like as they will get bigger.
Once you have formed all your shapes drop them into the pot of boiling water/vinegar/tomato and boil away in there for at least 30-45 mins.
Take them all out and let cool down. The meat is essentially now cooked.
Eat one and marvel at the yumminess.
The breadcrumbs part is just the icing on the cake.
Coat each nugget 1st in flour, 2nd in the beaten egg (you may need to beat one more egg) and 3rd in breadcrumbs.
It has to be this order!
Thia is the part where you freeze a batch. Then, either shallow fry, or coat in oil and bake. When cooking from frozen, just let them defrost at room temperature and fry or bake as normal.
Try not to eat them all – while you are preparing them … so easy to pop them in your mouth. Must be served with homemade ketchup and made from scratch mayo. Only kidding! Serve with whatever you like. My two year old asked for a side serving of strawberries with hers!