Just so you know, I don’t intend to pull a “Jamie Oliver” when it comes to chicken nuggets. I’m neither a closeted buyer of supermarket nuggets nor I will hide McNuggets under my skirt if you catch me nibbling them. Having said that, with Jamie’s Food Revolution spreading around the world, he managed to get one point across, well to me anyway, that good parenting includes making chicken nuggets at home and not buying them. Although I’m not yet a parent, I somehow sensed an encouragement from him to set a good example for the little guests in an upcoming party.
This was my first attempt at making nuggets and for once, I knew exactly what were added to the nuggets I ate. This was indeed a relief and satisfying.
I suppose the idea of “cooking from scratch” could sometimes mean time-consuming and lots of hassle but making nuggets from scratch wasn’t as bad as I thought (as long as you don’t compare to supermarket nuggets where you just pop them into the oven and ready to eat ). At the end of the day, knowing what you eat does count for something right? If not our sake, at least for the sake of the little ones, yes?
Oven-Baked Chicken & Vegetable Nuggets
(tweaked slightly from Taste.com.au)
1 zucchini, finely grated
500g (about 17.6 oz) chicken breast mince
1 carrot, peeled, finely grated
270g (about 9.5 oz) can corn kernels, drained, rinsed (I’ve omitted this)
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup dried breadcrumbs (I have doubled the amount – 1/2 cup normal breadcrumbs and 1/2 cup panko)
Olive oil cooking spray (if not, drizzle some vegetable oil using a teaspoon)
1 tbsp semolina (or breadcrumbs) for the chicken mixture
Salt to taste and pepper
1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius (392 degrees Fahrenheit). Line a large baking tray with baking paper and spray or drizzle some oil over it.
2. Using your hands, squeeze grated zucchini to remove excess liquid. Places zucchini in a large bowl. Add mince, carrot, corn (if use), semolina and egg. Season with salt and pepper. Using your hands, mix until well combined. Wash your hands after this.
(Depending how much you’ve managed to squeeze the liquid out from the zucchini, the texture of the chicken mixture may vary. I’ve ended up with a stickier mixture and therefore added a tablespoon of semolina – or breadcrumbs. Add more if you feel the mixture is on the “sticky side” or until it is shapeable.)
3. Place breadcrumbs on a large plate. Use one hand to shape about a tablespoon of mixture into nuggets.
4. With another clean hand, sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the nuggets. (This is to prevent the mixture from sticking to your hand in the next step.)
5. Flatten the chicken mixture in the breadcrumbs like the photo below. Make sure all the sides are covered in breadcrumbs.
6. Lift the breaded chicken mixture and try to “smooth out” the edges.
7. Continue step 3 to 6 with the remaining mixture. Spray or drizzle nuggets with oil. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes, turning the nuggets halfway during cooking or until golden and cooked through.
50% normal breadcrumbs: 50% panko breadcrumbs? I love the differing textures of panko and conventional breadcrumbs. As you may know, panko breadcrumbs have larger grains (and thus, better crunch) but tend to fall off quite easily when breading. This is compensated by the finer conventional breadcrumbs to fill the “gaps” resulting tightly breaded outer layer. But don’t worry, you can still get away with using either one of them if you don’t have both breadcrumbs in stock.
Freezing options? As suggested by taste.com.au, freeze the uncooked nuggets at the end of step 2 by dividing nuggets between 2 large zip-lock bag, label, date and freeze for up to 3 months. Alternatively, my preferred option is to freeze the cooked nuggets and reheat when you’re ready to have them. Follow the instructions from here.