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Making your own chicken nuggets is a frugal way to have delicious, nutritious finger food on hand for adults and wee ones alike, and they’re super-easy to freeze – so make extra! It's great to pull them out for lunch on a busy day or to have an easy meal on the days when little ones are extra-fussy at dinner time. (Like last night in our house….)
Feel free to change up the herbs in the chicken mixture, too, to highlight flavors your own family likes. Tarragon is one of our favorites and is mellow enough to not overwhelm other flavors, but I can imagine herbes de Provence, Italian seasoning, or even a bit of lemon zest could all be new favorites.
When you're chopping up the chicken, take the time to trim off the fat and skin well or the mixture may fall apart as you mold them. If you're really short on time, you can pound the chicken breast to a uniform thickness, then cut into nugget-sized pieces, but I find this method doesn't hold the breading as well as the ground chicken mixture, nor can you add in the bacon or herbs, which add lovely flavors. Do what works for you.
And don’t be put off by the long list of ingredients for the barbecue sauce – it’s not difficult to make and it is glossy, thick, smooth, and deeply flavorful. You can use it immediately or let it sit out for a couple of days to become richly probiotic.
2 chicken breasts or 6 chicken thighs
5-6 slices of uncooked bacon (optional)
1-2 teaspoons fresh tarragon, to taste
Pinch of unrefined sea salt
Fresh ground black pepper
1 cup sourdough or sprouted bread breadcrumbs
1 cup sprouted wheat flour
2 eggs, beaten with 1 teaspoon water
Cut the raw chicken breasts into chunks and coarsely chop the raw bacon. Place in a food processor with the tarragon, salt, and pepper and process until smooth.
Using moistened hands, form the chicken/bacon mix into nuggets no more than 3/4 inches thick. Bread each nugget by dredging it first in the flour, then the eggs, and lastly rolling it in the bread crumbs. Shake off the excess after each step. Place breaded nuggets on a parchment-paper lined baking sheet.
To save nuggets for later, freeze on the baking sheet, then transfer to a long-term freezer storage container. To bake immediately, place the baking sheet in a preheated350ºF oven and bake for 15-18 minutes. Test for doneness by pricking one nugget with a fork – the juices should run clear.
If you're looking for wholesome versions of ketchup, apple cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, hot sauce, sauerkraut, and dipping sauces other than barbecue sauce, be sure to look for our upcoming book on from-scratch condiments that are easy to make and deeply nourishing for your family! Due out July 2012.
1 onion, coarsely chopped
2-3 tablespoons water
1 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/4 cup blackstrap molasses
1/4 teaspoon hot sauce (more to taste)
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons pure liquid smoke
2 tablespoons olive oil or coconut oil, melted
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons whey or sauerkraut brine (optional)
Place the onion in a blender with the water and blend until slushy. An immersible blender makes this especially easy. Strain mixture through a cheesecloth, squeezing it until you obtain 1/2 cup juice.
Whisk ketchup, onion juice, and other wet ingredients in a medium bowl, omitting oil and whey. Set aside.
Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add in garlic and spices and cook until fragrant. Whisk in wet ingredient mixture and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer gently until the mixture thickens, about 20-30 minutes. Cool to room temperature before serving.
To give the sauce a probiotic kick, stir in the whey or sauerkraut brine and let sit at room temperature for 1-2 days, then refrigerate.
Instead of forming nuggets with the ground chicken mixture, form into patties, then bread as usual. Use as tasty chicken burgers at your next barbecue!
Take them camping. For camping success, either precook them and heat them in the campsite or put them in a fine-grate grilling basket over the coals for an hour or two.
To make gluten-free breading, use coconut flour and sweet rice flour or coconut flakes (if you want your nuggets a bit sweet). Do the breading as you would with wheat products: dip the ground chicken in coconut flour, then in the egg wash, then roll it in either sweet rice flour or coconut flakes, shaking off the excess between each step. You could also skip the breading altogether and just bake the chicken nuggets without any coating.