The Perfect Chicken Nugget

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Yield: 
8-10 Nuggets
This recipe underwent extensive lab testing, tasting, and more testing (in other words, we'd never made chicken nuggets, much less the baked kind, so this one took some trial and error). In the end we came up with a recipe that we think you'll love. If you're a grown kid who loves chicken nuggets, you might want to add 1 teaspoon of finely chopped rosemary, the same amount of garlic paste, and a touch of cayenne to the breadcrumbs. Note: This is a 2 day recipe. You can omit the Day 1 directions, but we don't recommend it (*See note).

Ingredients:

**Chicken Breast - 1 breast (about 8 oz.)
***Simple Vinaigrette - 2 Tbsp. (1 oz.)
Salt - 1/2 tsp.
Whole Wheat Pastry Flour - 3 Tbsp.
Egg, beaten - 2
Whole Wheat Breadcrumbs - 1 cup
Extra Virgin Olive Oil - 1 Tbsp.

To make:

Day 1

  1. Cut the chicken breast into nuggets, about 1 oz. each.
  2. Combine the chicken with the vinaigrette and salt. Mix well and store overnight in a covered plastic container. 12-24 hours is ideal. If you cannot make them within 24 hours, rinse off the marinade, pat dry, and store refrigerated until you can.

 Day 2

  1. Preheat oven to 475 (about 375 for convection ovens).
  2. Get out 3 small bowls and put the flour, egg, and breadcrumbs each in their own bowl. This is your "breading station". Get out a sheet pan. If you have it, put a cooling rack on the sheet pan. If not, line it with parchment paper or grease it with olive oil.
  3. Dredge the nuggets, one at a time, first in the flour (shaking off excess), then egg, then breadcrumbs. Now dip again in the egg and then coat with breadcrumbs. This is called double breading, and yields a crunchier crust. Put the breaded nuggets on the sheet pan.
  4. Drizzle about 1/4 teaspoon of olive oil on each nugget, covering each as thoroughly as possible. Don't worry that there are dry spots. The oil will spread when the nugget is baking. Bake on the middle rack of the oven until golden brown, about 8-10 minutes, depending on the size of nugget. You may need to turn the nuggets over during cooking if one side is browning more than the other.
  5. Eat with ketchup and/or Ranch, thinking about how much better they taste (and how much better for you they are) than the fast food version!

*The overnight marinating is very important. We added salt to the marinade, creating a brine. This brine adds flavor, seasons the chicken, and most importantly keep it moist. In testing, we found that baked nuggets got dry when not brined first.

**Chicken breasts vary greatly in size. If you don't have a scale, just read the weight on the package and divide by the number of breasts it contains. There are 16 ounces per pound. So if you buy a 2 lb. pack of chicken with 4 breasts, each should be about 8 ounces.

***You can make a simple oil and vinegar dressing, or use your favorite store-bought kind. Choose something pretty neutral, like Italian, or champagne vinaigrette. Don't use a dressing with much or any dairy in it.

 

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