Chicken Nuggets

I’ve been making homemade Chicken Nuggets for a few years, because I’m afraid to know what McDonald’s puts in their chicken McNuggets. Recently I saw the new Cook’s Country episode where Chris Kimball touts his own variation. There are two main difference: (1) he brines the chicken pieces for 30 minutes, and (2) he does not par-bake them in the oven.  The results were significantly more tender, though less crunchy.  The kids preferred Chris Kimball’s nuggets, giving them 5-stars.

Fresh and tender; delicious even for adults.

Comments:

  1. Chris Kimball has an elaborate description of how to cut the nuggets: first slicing on the bias into thirds, the cutting into 1/2″ pieces. I read it 100 times and couldn’t figure out what he meant (and had already deleted the Cook’s Country episode from my DVR). In the end, I think all you need to do is cut them into even bite-sized nuggets. Whatever size you like your nuggets; just make them that size.
  2. In the past I had par-baked the nuggets to be sure that the chicken was fully cooked, but it turns out that Chris Kimball is right. I checked the nuggets in this recipe and after 3 minutes in the oil and they had no trouble reaching an internal temperature of 165-degrees.
  3. If you want to make them ahead of time, allow the fried nuggets to cool and put the in a gallon-size Zip-lock bag. Freeze them for up to a month. To re-heat them put the nuggets on foil-lined rimmed baking sheet on the middle rack of a 350-degreee oven. Bake for 15 minutes; flipping them after 8 minutes.

Rating: 5-stars.
Cost: $3.
How much work? Low.
How big of a mess?  Medium.
Start time 4:00 PM. Finish time 6:00 PM.

Chris Kimball’s original recipe is here. The descriptions of how I prepared them today are given below:

Brine:
2-1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 cups water
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

Breading:
1-1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1-1/2 cup panko (Japanese-style bread crumbs)
3 teaspoons onion powder
1 teaspoon pepper
3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3 large egg whites
4 cups peanut or vegetable oil

  1. Cut your chicken into what ever sized pieces you like your nuggets; just be sure they are all about the same size.
  2. In a large bowl, add 1 tablespoon salt and 2 tablespoons Worcestershire into two cups of water.  Whisk until the salt has dissolved. Add chicken pieces, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Chris Kimball reminds you to not brine any longer than 30 minutes or your chicken will be too salty.
  3. Add 1-1/2 cups panko in a Zip-lock bag and crush it with a rolling pin.
  4. You will need two pie plates. In the first, add flour, crushed panko, onion powder, 1 teaspoon salt, pepper, garlic powder, and baking soda. In the second pie plate, add whites from 3 eggs and briefly whisk.
  5. Remove chicken from brine and pat dry with paper towels.
  6. Working in 3 batches (up to 1-lb of chicken at a time), coat chicken nuggets in egg whites, and allow any extra egg white to drip back into pie plate. Then dredge in the flour mixture, and press lightly so that the breading adheres. Place coated chicken on clean plate. Repeat breading process with remaining chicken.
  7. Allow chicken to sit at room temperature for 10 minutes, then return chicken to flour mixture and re-coat, again pressing lightly so that the breading adheres.
  8. Adjust your oven rack to middle position and preheat to 200-degrees. Pour 4 cups oil into a large Dutch oven and heat over medium-high burner to 350-degrees.
  9. Cook the chicken in 2 batches for between 3 to 5 minutes until deeply golden brown; stirring occasionally so that they don’t stick and cook evenly. Drain nuggets on wire rack set over a foil-lined baking sheet and place in oven. Cook the second batch once the oil returns to 350-degrees.
  10. Serve with dipping sauces.
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3 Responses to Chicken Nuggets

  1. Katie says:

    Hi. I have to ask: 1) can I use less oil if I am making less chicken and 2) what the heck do you do with the oil afterwards?

    • Hi, the amount of oil necessary has more to do with batch size than total number of nuggets in all batches. You need enough oil so that the temperature when you add the chicken doesn’t drop too much; I’d say if it goes below 300-degrees you don’t have enough oil. Also the pot will have something to do with the amount of oil needed.

      I re-use the oil 4 or 5 times, until it becomes overly dark. But I always discard the last little bit of oil from the bottom of the pot, because it has lots of burned flakes that have come loose from the nuggets. To make that happen, I usually have two gallon-size jugs of oil. One that is new, and one that has been used. Chris Kimball recommends filtering using a paper coffee filter, but I find that it doesn’t work because the oil doesn’t penetrate the paper filter very well.

      If you have kids, these will be a big hit, and you will definitely have no trouble re-using the oil to get your money’s worth out of it. While frying is never healthy, these are a lot healthier that the ones from your local fast-food joint. Both because there are no chemicals and use real chicken, and also because home-fried nuggets absorb less oil.

      Mark

      • probably a little late to this party, but if you use a fine sieve lined with a paper towel it filters the oil very well 🙂 Thank you for the recipe, highly recommended by one of my colleagues!

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