For those of us with kids, school is now in full swing and the afternoons are busy with homework and extracurricular activities. Having a dinner you can just pull out of the freezer that your kids won’t complain about is a lifesaver. I haven’t met a kid that doesn’t like chicken nuggets. Even my daughter, who turns her nose up at meat (unless it is bacon), will chow down on some nuggets.
Now I realize that you can buy huge bags of chicken nuggets at the grocery store, they even come in fun shapes. But have you ever looked at the ingredient list? Bleh! And don’t get me started on those organic/natural ones in their tiny little boxes: 1/3 of the amount for 3 times the price.
As we discussed in our hamburger post last summer, it is important to chill the meat and metal parts of the grinder attachment before you begin to grind the meat. This helps the meat keep its structure through the grinding process and not become smooshed and gummy. This is especially true for poultry. I like to chop up all the chicken, throw it in the freezer and then assemble the rest of my ingredients.
Once everything has chilled out a bit, running it through the meat grinder attachment is a snap. I used the 8mm hole disc so the nuggets would have texture and not resemble meatballs. If you don’t have this size, just use the largest mm size you have.
After my first batch I found it necessary to add some chicken broth to the ground chicken. Otherwise the nugget was a bit on the dry side, especially if I froze and reheated them.
I wanted to achieve a chicken nugget that both my daughter, my husband and I would eat and enjoy. I made sure the recipe made a fairly large portion so we could not only have them for dinner the day I made them, but I could freeze the rest and pull a couple out whenever my daughter needed a quick meal or snack.
I played around with several different breading/coating combinations. Fresh bread crumbs, panko, regular bread crumbs. I preferred using regular bread crumbs and found that the Whole Foods 365 brand not only had a whole wheat version but their bread crumbs didn’t have any added preservatives; which was a huge bonus for me. And no, I am not getting paid to advertise for Whole Foods. I don’t shop there often cause, $$$, but I do rely on them for finding staple goods that won’t be full of chemicals and additives.
While I was hoping to just roll some freshly ground meat in a bread crumb mixture, I also realized after testing my first batch that I would need to do a flour/egg/bread crumb breading process if I wanted the coating to adhere to the chicken nuggets and not get soggy while baking.
Now regular bread crumbs aren’t all that flavorful, so I punched up the flavor with a little garlic and freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Cause garlic and cheese pretty much make everything better. If you have the shredder/slicer attachment for the Ankarsrum, it makes quick work of grating cheese.
Once all your nuggets are breaded, just pop them in the oven until brown and crisp.
All that is left after that is to serve with your favorite condiment and enjoy! Ashley’s homemade ketchup compliments these nuggets nicely.
Instructions for freezing and reheating the chicken nuggets are included in the recipe. For instructions on how to assemble the meat grinder attachment, click here.
Homemade Chicken Nuggets
Prep Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
3 pounds boneless chicken breast
3 1/2 teaspoons salt, divided
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/4 cup dry whole wheat bread crumbs
1 1/4 cup finely shredded Parmesan (not the powdered stuff)
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
Cut the chicken into 2 inch cubes and place in the freezer, along with the metal parts of the Ankarsrum meat grinder, while you prep the other ingredients.
Line two cookie or half sheet pans with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Set aside until ready to use.
Set up a breading station with three shallow dishes (such as pie or cake pans). In the first one place the whole wheat flour. Whisk the eggs in the second one. In the last one add the bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, garlic powder and 2 teaspoons salt; whisk to evenly combine.
Assemble the Ankarsrum base with the meat grinder attachment and the largest grinding disc. Place a large bowl underneath to catch the ground meat. Using the plunger to feed the chicken through, grind the meat on the highest speed.
Add the chicken broth and remaining teaspoon and a half of salt to the freshly ground chicken and gently mix.
Preheat oven to 375° F.
With a large spoon or small disher, scoop up about 2 tablespoons of the ground chicken mixture and shape into a little patty.
Evenly coat with the flour, then egg, then bread crumb mixture. Place on prepared pans about an inch apart. Repeat until all the ground chicken is breaded.
Bake for 22-25 minutes or until the bread crumb coating is beginning to brown and the chicken is cooked through.
Alternately, place baked chicken nuggets on a wire rack to cool. Once fully cooled, lay out on a pan and freeze. Once frozen, place in a freezer safe bag or container for up to 3 months. To reheat: Preheat the oven to 400° F. Lay desired amount of chicken nuggets on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Bake for approximately 10-15 minutes, or until heated through.
Yield: 37 chicken nuggets
Gluten Free Version:
-Replace the whole wheat flour with sorghum flour.
-Replace the bread crumbs with gluten-free breadcrumbs.
-Follow above recipe.