Monday, 17 November 2014

Chicken nuggets (my way)

Chicken nuggets (my way)

Chicken nuggets, besides being one of the "signature" items on the menu of the most popular fast food chain (no need to name it), are also present in most of the kids menus all over the world. Because almost all children (and often also parents) love them; except my son and maybe few other kids in the world (excluding vegetarians of course). In particular he doesn't like those nuggets made using bite sized pieces of chicken, where the taste and texture of the meat is fully recognizable even if they are covered in breadcrumbs, usually very salty and deep-fried. But my son actually dislikes almost all kinds of meat and fish and also cheese: I would say he is unconsciously vegetarian, and he would have pasta, then pasta and more pasta, both for lunch and dinner (he is really Italian!).
But when I made these chicken nuggets, beyond any expectations, he liked them, so I want to share the recipe for those moms looking for different ways of presenting meat to their children, especially if like my son are not meat and chicken lovers.
These little patties are much healthier than any fast-food or frozen version: no preservatives and artificial flavors, no excess salt, no "unknown" fats; and of course the highest the quality of the ingredients used (chicken, cheese, eggs, oil), the better the result. Also, they can be deep fried for a tastier - and more guilty - result, but are very good just baked in the oven or, they way I prefer, cooked in a non-stick pan using a small quality of extra-virgin olive oil.
One note on the preparation method: unlike most of the nuggets, in this recipe chicken meat is minced and blended with ricotta cheese, some soft bread and steamed carrots. The result are little patties where the chicken cannot be recognized (good for children who don't like meat, like mine) with a soft texture which make them easy to eat and therefore suitable also for toddlers without all their teeth (sometimes meat can be tough for children). 
And for a completely healthy meal I served them with potato sticks baked in the oven, as tasty as French fries but much lighter.
Chicken nuggets (my way)

Chicken nuggets (my way)
makes about 16 - 18 nuggets
200 g chicken breast (or other chicken meat, bones and skin removed, or turkey)
80 g ricotta
25 g soft bread
1 egg white
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
70 g carrot, diced
optional: 50 g diced zucchini or green peas,steamed
1 egg
3 or 4 tbsp flour
60 g breadcrumb
Steam the carrots  and smash with a fork.
Cut the chicken meat into small cubes and add it into the bowl of a blender with ricotta, egg white, bread roughly chopped, carrots, mustard  and a pinch of salt. Mix until  smooth, then transfer into a bowl (at this point you can add some steamed peas or zucchini for a touch of color) and amalgamate well. Cover with plastic wrap and transfer into the fridge for 30 minutes to one hour until firm. With the help of two tablespoon (the mixture will be sticky even after resting in the fridge) shape small portions of the mixture into flat little patties, roll them into the flour, then dip into the beaten egg and finally roll them in breadcrumbs until well coated. When all nuggets are ready, add 2 - 3 tbsp olive oil (or other vegetable oil) to a non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat; when oil is hot gently place the nuggets in the pan and cook until golden turning them halfway through. Transfer to a plate lined with kitchen paper to eliminate excess oil. Alternatively nuggets can be deep fried or baked in the oven: place them in a baking dish, sprinkle some olive oil and bake at 180°C until golden turning them halfway through.
These nuggets can be frozen raw or cooked; or they can be prepared and cooked in advance (even the day before) then warmed in the oven for about 10 minutes before serving.

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