Although I do not harbor any real nostalgia for the chicken nugget, you have to admire an industrial food culture that is able to scrape the remains of bones from a slaughtered animal, combine this with trimmings, glue it together in the shape of a dinosaur, cover it with wheat and market it as a healthy way to deliver protein into a child’s body.*
However, faced daily with the task of delivering a certain amount of protein (often in the form of chicken, or eggs) into my adult body, I thought I would play around with a chicken nugget concept.
Honestly, I thought this was going to be a hot mess. But to my surprise, these turned out to be ridiculously tasty! I fed them to two athletic kids in their 20s, a friend who had just had a baby, and my husband, all of whom approved.
I will admit these are not a crunchy or crispy nugget. But they are glorious cold and really extra glorious when dipped in a little ketchup. And when you see the nutrition stats, you will know that you can absolutely afford the few extra carbohydrate grams a dip of ketchup will bring. These are gluten free and paleo-friendly if you do not partake of the ketchup. They are super portable too- you could sneak a few in a small tupperware in your purse or backpack.
Here are your macros! I compared them to a popular brand of frozen nuggets that you keep in the freezer and bake at home.
Tyson VS. Shebnation
90 gram serving (5 Tyson Nuggets/5 Shebnation Nuggets)
Tyson Fat: 17 grams–Shebnation Fat: 11.5 Grams
Tyson Carbohydrates: 15 Grams–Shebnation Carbohydrates: 4.32 (#boom)
Tyson Protein: 17 Grams–Shebnation Protein: 30 Grams (#mikedrop)
You will need a few things:
1.25 pounds of chicken cut into .75 ounce pieces. (567 grams of chicken, cut in 21 gram pieces. (I used a scale to weigh these. I had to trim a few pieces, and ended up with 4 ounces (114 grams) of extra raw chicken which I simply reserved and cooked for another lunch).
3/4 cup (84 grams) of finely ground almond meal. (This is what boosts the protein. If you use a different flour you may not get as much protein per nugget).
2 Tbsp spices of your choice. I highly recommend 1 Tbsp each of mild chile powder and herbs de provence, which is simply a nice blend of dried green herbs and lavender. Dried oregano or a nice Italian blend would work nicely too.
Egg whites. 50 grams or 3 large egg whites.
Salt and Pepper.
A parchment lined baking sheet. Tin foil ok too!
- Pre-heat your oven to 400 ° F/ 200 °C or Gas Mark 6
- Dry your chicken breasts thoroughly with paper towel, then utilizing a food scale cut them into 3/4 ounce (21 grams) pieces. It’s ok if they are not perfect. But try to be close.
- Fill a small tray or bowl with the egg whites. If you are separating egg whites rather than using boxed egg whites, whip them up a bit. (For this recipe I actually prefer the boxed egg whites and I usually have them on hand for an easy source of low-fat protein.)
- Mix with a whisk, the almond meal, the two spices plus 1.5 tsp of salt and 1 tsp of pepper. I cannot urge you enough, at this stage to SEASON THE ALMOND FLOUR AGGRESSIVELY. Do not be afraid. You want this dry mixture to be bursting with flavor. There should be no need to season a nugget after it is baked. If you are unsure, taste a tiny bit of the flour. It should be zippy and full of flavor. Please tell me it is zippy and full of flavor. Otherwise, season a little more.
- Place all the chicken pieces into the egg whites. Let them hang out for about 15 minutes. Have a goddamned glass of wine. You know I did. Please have some wine.
- Three nuggets at a time, put the egg-white soaked chicken pieces into the flour mixture. Roll them around, thoroughly dredging them. If you put more than three at a time, the almond flour will become too soggy.
- Once they are coated, put the tray in the oven. After 12 minutes, turn the nuggets over. Bake for 24 minutes.
*In the interest of fairness, Tyson does issue this “position statement” regarding just how much mechanically separated meat may or may not be in their products. However, if you make these yourself, and use chicken breast, you will know exactly how much mechanically separated chicken will be in your nuggets: none.