Sunday, May 13, 2012

100% "Real"-ly Good Chicken Nuggets!

These nuggets are so moist and tasty you will think you are at a upscale cafe with gourmet nuggets on the menu when you sit down to a plate of these bad boys!

More good news: these nuggets are grain and dairy free and best of all they are easy to make!

Ma never made chicken nuggets but she did make lot of nugget like foods: cornmeal fried cornmeal mush, johnny cakes, and corn dodgers.(pages 21-23 of The Little House Cookbook).

She was also said to have sat down to a plate of Codfish balls which definitely qualify in the nugget department. (pages 31-31 of The Little House Cookbook). This recipe could actually work with fish too but I have not tried that yet. Please let me know how it goes if you do.

My kids have always loved chicken nuggets, heck I have always loved chicken nuggets too! When we went gluten free in our house chicken nuggets were definitely off the menu.
When you read the ingredients of fast food nuggets you realize that those nuggets should be off everyone's menu! Read the fine print on McDonald's chicken nuggets and let me know if you could honestly allow yourself or your children to eat them. Don't even get me started on how unhealthy mainstream chicken is. Watch that part of the movie Food Inc if you don't believe me. Chickens crowded all together in a dark barn eating cheap GMO corn and soy meal sprayed with antibiotics is NOT chicken that ANYONE should be eating. Protest this cruelty by only buying organic free range chicken, pastured whenever possible. It is worth the extra money! Ok now back to the importance of the perfect delicious nuggets!

Sure you can make chicken strips but I just do not think they are as tasty. The chicken is solid in chicken strips so it is thicker and tough for little mouths to chew. Nuggets are soft and definitely more moist than any chicken strip could ever be. You can also pack more flavor inside the nugget because you can mix the spices into the chicken mix before you turn them into nuggets. Are you getting excited about all the possibilities? You should be!

It took me a while to create the perfect chicken nugget recipe. I was first inspired by watching an old episode of Blaine's Low Carb Kitchen on Discovery Health's Fit T.V. Channel. Blaine used to be a chef in a restaurant so he has some cool tricks up his sleeve. I watched him make his Funky Chicken Nuggets and I decided I needed to try this. The first time I made them I followed his recipe exactly but I subbed coconut flour for the soy flour because that is what I had on hand. They were good but I was not really a fan of the marjoram or the pork rind crust. I also wanted to eliminate the dairy if possible. I do not have a deep fryer so I pan fried them and then finished them in the oven but that took a lot of time and lets face it, I do not have a lot of time! I decided to just bake them the next time I made a batch.

When I read the chicken strip/nugget recipe called "Fools Gold" in my new favorite cookbook: Eat Like a Dinosaur I decided to try some of the spices they included in their recipe for some new flavors.

Here is the final list of ingredients that make the fabulous chicken nuggets that are a new staple in this house. I am very excited that using full fat canned coconut milk worked in place of the cream. There is no coconut taste at all so I urge you all to give it a try for the wonderful health benefits of coconut! It is a gut healing food and a fast burning fat in your body.

Ingredients for the nugget base:
  • 2lb organic free range chicken breasts (or 2 lb of ground chicken if you do not have a food processor)
  • 10 ounces full fat canned coconut milk (I buy organic)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 or 3 cloves crushed garlic
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
Ingredients for the coating:
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp dried mustard
  • 1/2 tsp granulated garlic
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 cup finely ground almond flour or ground sunflower seeds*
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
*if you are allergic to nuts or seeds or avoiding them you can just use coconut flour or crushed up pork rinds

 Cooking Steps:
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 375
  2. Line a large baking sheet with foil and set it aside.
  3. Mix coating ingredients in a shallow bowl with a fork and set aside. (Use the fork to break up any chunks, you want it very granular.)
  4. If you have a food processor place the chicken, eggs, onion powder, and crushed garlic inside the container and turn the processor on. While it is running slowly pour the coconut milk in to incorporate. (If you do not have a food processor you can use ground chicken and a stand or hand mixer)
  5. Form the chicken mixture into nuggets one at a time. I use Blaine's method of making quenelles by using 2 large tablespoons. You rotate 1 tablespoon of mixture back and forth between spoons until 3 sided oval shapes are formed.
  6. Roll each nugget in the coating mix and place it on your foiled covered pan.
  7. Bake the nuggets in the oven for about 15 to 25 minutes depending on their size and your oven. If you want you can turn them over half way through. If you have a deep fryer you can fry them all instead for that authentic nugget crunch. Or you can pan fry them first and then finish them in the oven.
This makes about 30 big nuggets when I make them. We eat some hot out of the oven. Then we lay the rest of wax or parchment paper covered cookie sheets and flash freeze them for a few hours before sealing them in labeled freezer bags for quick reheating later on when we don't have time to make a meal or snack.

We like to dip ours in ketchup or homemade mayo

The options are limitless! Just think of some flavors  you like and swap out the ingredients. 
Once for a really special treat we crushed up Avocado Oil Chips and used this as the coating. They were crunchy even with only baking!

Here are the ingredients for a curry coconut version I made recently:

Ingredients for the curry coconut nugget base:
  •     2lb organic free range chicken breasts (or 2 lb of ground chicken if you do not have a food processor)
  •   10 ounces full fat canned coconut milk (I buy organic)
  •   2 eggs
  •   freshly grated ginger to taste or ginger powder
  •   1 TBSP curry paste (more if you like it spicier)

Ingredients for the coconut coating:
  •  3/4 cup of finely shredded coconut toasted
For this version I added curry paste to some of my homemade mayo for a fabulous dipping sauce.

What kind of nuggets are you going to make? Please leave a comment and tell me how yours turned out.


Anonymous said...

Wow! This sounds FABulous. Definetly trying these next week. I need a go-to bag-o-something to heat up with rice or a salad for a quick dinner after soccer or something. Thanks Jennifer - you are the best!

Anonymous said...

Oh - that was from Gitte (post above).

Jenn said...

Thanks Gitte! Try my "Little Pots of Gold" veggie meatball recipe too. That is another good one to have on hand in the freezer. I love how the veggie meatballs are a complete meal all in one little ball!

Anonymous said...

I'm craving nuggets (from McDonald's I'm embarrassed to admit). I've never had nuggets from anywhere else so I have to try these.

This is Frances, btw.

Jenn said...

I just made these with a friend over the weekend and we used potato chips for the coating for extra fun. The 6 kids and 4 adults LOVED them! For about $25 I made about 45 BIG nuggets and served it with some dipping sauces and fresh steamed artichokes and baby carrots. We even had left over nuggets (about 12) that I let my friend keep. The meal was probably $30 total and that is only beacuse I used expensive free range organic chicken. Definitely a good deal and it was healthy and more delicious than store bought!

Anonymous said...

do you any concerns about the volatility of the omega 3's in the flax? It is not generally recommended that flax be heated much, if at all...

Jenn said...

This recipe has been updated to remove flax meal as an ingredient. I do not use flax meal very often anyone after reading more about its negatives like its ability to mimic estrogen and the fact that you really do not absorb the omega 3's flax contains, even if you are consuming the cold pressed oil.