~ "By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; Through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures." ~ "Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing" ~ "But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy." ~ "Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths."~

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Homemade Chicken Nuggets...with Honey Mustard Sauce

Homemade Chicken Nuggets...with Honey Mustard Sauce. Sometimes I like to have fun in the kitchen...well most times I do:). But every once in a while I really look forward to making a recipe that may not be the norm in my cooking and baking. It can oftentimes be a recipe that is challenging, a recipe that may have ingredients I'm not used to, a creative recipe, or a recipe that brings back fond memories of a dish I loved eating as a child. In this case, it's probably neither of those, maybe a bit of the "fond memory" reason... but not in its entirety. For you see, I didn't really eat chicken nuggets as a child, except for the occasional cafeteria school lunch that included the chicken nuggets.
Growing up, I remember mainly eating the Romanian version of the chicken "nuggets"... not exactly nuggets, more like meatballs:). But they were delicious! So most of our meals, 99.9% of them were actually home-cooked. We really didn't go out to eat, and besides the cafeteria lunches, our meals were mainly Romanian. Eventually Americanized meals came into the picture, so that if we wanted a hamburger, we made it at home. If we wanted BBQ'd chicken wings...we made that at home. The same went for lasagna, spaghetti, pizza, and so forth. We didn't really know what fast food was all about. But later on, when we all started going to college, the opportunity to try various fast foods on campus presented itself on occasions... especially when we wanted a break from all the studying:).
There was the student union with its share of fast food... and then there was the international-style cafeteria that offered Italian, American, Chinese, Mexican food, etc.... Interestingly enough, I had my very first taco salad in college... boy, did I think that was special:)! A deep-fried tortilla shaped like a bowl... and filled with all sorts of goodies. Never had that before. And I could never understand why most people would eat the taco filling, and then throw away the tortilla shell. It was the best part:)... O.K. so it wasn't exactly the healthiest, but for me, it was a treat...not something I ate every day. In any case, since then, I have had my share of fast food...
Nowadays though, fast food rarely shows up on our list of meals... it's mainly when we are travelling...and even then it's limited, maybe for the occasional In-N-Out burger:). But I remember chicken nuggets being so delicious... and I loved dipping them in all sorts of sauces. Again, not exactly the healthiest, but they tasted good:).
A few weeks ago, I recently came across a copycat recipe for Mc Donald's chicken nuggets.... homemade. I rather liked the idea of homemade chicken nuggets, but I wasn't shooting for the Mc Donald's version... just chicken nuggets. So I decided to make my own recipe for chicken nuggets... with a simple honey-mustard sauce.
I chose to shallow fry my nuggets, but you can deep fry them if you like. I just love using grapeseed oil to fry, but you can just as well use your favorite oil. I'm thinking these nuggets are a bit healthier than the fast food option... maybe just a bit:). But I do know exactly what I put in them, and even though they were a bit more dense than the fast food ones, we really enjoyed them. The chicken nuggets were just so delicious. Hope you enjoy...

Note: While I chose a flour coating, you can easily use bread crumbs instead. I wouldn't recommend baking them... I tried baking a batch and sprayed them with oil on both sides. They are o.k., but definitely not the same.
*If you find the chicken mixture to be dry, opt to add more egg until it loosens up a bit, and over mixing/over processing the chicken will make the nuggets tough.

Tip: The chicken nuggets freeze very well, so make a double batch(if you have help) and use 2 frying pans instead of one to make things go quicker .
If you are concerned with the salt amount, feel free to adjust salt to taste... you can easily skip the salt in the flour coating.

You will need: makes about 30 generous nuggets (using a 1 1/2 TBS cookie scoop)

Chicken Nuggets:
4 half chicken breasts, cut in cubes( you could also use a mixture of dark and white meat)
1 egg, beaten*
1 1/2 tsps kosher salt, or to taste
1/2 tsp celery salt
1 tsp onion powder*
1/2 tsp coarse black pepper
*I used a spice grinder to grind dried onion flakes until very fine and then measured it out.

Egg Wash:
2 eggs, beaten

Seasoned Flour:
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp kosher salt, or to taste*
1/2 tsp coarse black pepper, or to taste
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp baking powder
* you can omit the salt, if you like.

For frying:
grapeseed oil, as needed

1. Cut chicken breasts in 1 inch cubes. place in food processor and process for 20-30 seconds...or until meat is a coarse paste....if you like, you can make a fine paste. I just prefer some texture.
2. Place meat in a bowl and add beaten egg and seasoning. (You can likewise add the egg and seasoning when processing the chicken breast.)
3. Mix until combined. Set aside.
4. Mix flour, baking powder, and seasonings with a whisk in a medium bowl. Set side.
5. Beat eggs in a medium bowl and set aside.
6. Using a 1 1/2 cookie scoop( or use your hands) scoop out meat and place in flour bowl. Roll around until meat us covered in flour. Shape the meat into a ball, using your hands. Place meatball on a flat plate and press down using your fingers to about 1/2 inch thick(or so).
7. Do the same with the rest of the meat.
8. Take a floured chicken nugget and place in egg wash. Remove with a fork and dip in seasoned flour. Remove and place on a plate...do the same with the remainder of the nuggets. Sometimes if the chicken nuggets have sat too much on on the plate, they can eventually stick...so you can lightly flour the plate/or place them on parchment paper... or try to fry the nuggets as quickly as you can from the time you dipped them in the egg/flour.
9. Heat oil in a shallow 8 inch fry pan(or bigger)... use enough oil to cover skillet to 1/2-3/4 inch up)... and bring the temperature to 365-375 deg F...You can likewise do this step in a deep fryer, if you prefer.
10. Place chicken nuggets in hot oil and cook on one side for 2-3 minutes(or until golden ...Flip over on second side and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes( or until golden and cooked through). Keep in mind chicken breast cooks faster than dark meat and it continues to cook even after you have removed them from the oil... if you overcook the nuggets it will toughen. But if in doubt remove one and cut open... and adjust time.
11. Remove chicken nuggets unto a paper towel lined plate... Chicken nuggets can be done ahead and warmed in a toaster oven/oven at 375 deg F...You can likewise freeze, defrost, and re-heat in oven at a later date.

Honey Mustard Sauce:

1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup deli mustard/dijon
2 TBS mayonnaise
2-3 tsps lemon juice

1. Combine all ingredients...you can make the sauce ahead.


Sarah said...

Wow. Now I gotta try making my own Chicken Nuggets. Thanks for sharing, Ellie.

Ellie said...

You are welcome, Sarah. I love this recipe and am glad I could share it... hopefully you can give it a try one day:) Thanks for stopping by...

Mommy Bee said...

Oooh.. Printing! Thank you! After the terrible things I've heard about fast food chicken nuggets and the kidlets' love for them.. ugh. Ya know? This will be a wonderful replacement. Thank you!

M Family said...

These look awesome Ellie! I am still working on a healthy recipe for a nephew who is gluten free and anti veggie. My last batch I mixed shredded crookneck squash together with the chicken breast and rolled the nuggets in ground almonds and baked them...they tasted very good, but they were really a pain in the backside to make as they didn't form super easily (I am sure the watery squash didn't help), so back to the drawing board.

Ellie said...

Mommy Bee, Yes, I'm thinking the kids will love these... much healthier version. Oh, if only they would taste just as good baked:)...I hope you like them as much as we did.

M Family,
You know, it isn't exactly easy to make a healthy version AND incorporate good-for-you ingredients...on top of all that, to also make it gluten-free. Your version sounds delicious though... I am glad you tried it.
I am wondering if squeezing the squash dry would have made a difference. I am wondering if you can add some almond meal to the mixture before forming(to absorb any excess liquid). You could also use some gluten-free flour(rice flour, maybe tapioca, flax meal, quinoa or something similar).
I don't know if your nephew can have oatmeal...but I've been known to add some cooked oatmeal to meatballs/patties before... and it works well. It stretches out the amount of meat used, as well as bringing in some fiber.
Just some thoughts.... I love how you rolled the mixture in almonds. I am sure it was delicious! Sometimes I like to roll it in unsweetened coconut as well(if you like coconut). But I just know you will come up with a great recipe in the end:).

M Family said...

LOL, I just realized I used oatmeal too, I couldn't remember because I have been so bad about writing recipes I make up down! I was telling someone else that the reason I didn't try using chickpea flour or the like is because I am challenging myself to make things using what a person with no limitations would have in their pantry :) It is hard to make it healthy and make it gluten free etc...but, I love my nephew dearly and want him to have yummy stuff too!

Speranta said...

Foarte interesanta reteta ,imi place foarte mult!Niciodata nu am facut din piept de pui.Am sa incerc reteta ta,stiu ca o sa fie foarte bune ...

O, saptamana placuta iti doresc!

Ellie said...

Speranta, Reteta asta merita incercata...nu este grea deloc, numai la prajit temperatura trebuie sa fie bine:).
Si eu am ramas impresionata ca carnea de pui de piept a fost gustoasa si nu a fost uscata deloc...cum asi fi crezut.
Foarte bune au fost...sper sa iti placa si tie cand o incerci.

O zi frumoasa!

Montanamama said...

Hello Ellie, I just started following your blog and cannot wait to try your recipes!I am also a Christian, and live in Montana and a mom to 3 amazing kiddos. These chicken nuggets look great.Really looking forward to your blog/recipes!

Ellie said...

Montanamamma, Thanks for stopping by to say hello. I sure hope you enjoy your visit here....and that one or two recipes will work for you. Hopefully the children will enjoy the chicken nuggets... and the adults:)

What a blessing it is to know that you are a Christian as well...and live in Montana! We both know how beautiful Montana is:)...
Happy to have you as a new follower... it is an honor.

Fin said...

Just made these. yum. :)

Ellie said...

Fin, Thanks so much for your feedback on the nuggets...so glad you liked them!
I've made them a few times, and we've really enjoyed them.
Love to freeze them after they have been fried...this way I can just pop a few in the toaster oven to re-crisp and enjoy later:).

Jennifer Hess said...

My 8 year old loved them! they are so easy and seem like they can easily be adapted to your own taste. I'd like to try them baked, maybe mixing in some thigh meat to keep them moist and trying the bread crumb mix. What difference did you notice in the ones you baked?

Ellie said...

Jennifer, I am thrilled your 8 year old like the chicken nuggets. And while I prefer the fried version(obviously it tastes better, but it also allows you to keep an eye on them so that they don't overcook, which yields dry chicken nuggets).
I found with the baked version that I needed to cook them longer in order for them to gain some color, ... and they turned out pretty dry. Plus, the flour coating sort of got dry and hard. They weren't necessarily bad as long as you dipped them in some sauce:). Just not as moist as when I fried them...
But I totally agree with you in adding some chicken thigh meat and using a bread crumb coating. Would give them that extra moistness and would brown better. I'd probably spray the bread crumb coating with a bit of oil before baking... or dip the formed chicken nuggets in melted butter/oil before coating them in the bread crumbs.
But sounds like you already know how to make it work for you:)... for sure the nuggets would be better for you baked, and probably easier as you can bake a pan at a time.
Thanks for stopping by and sharing your feedback. I really appreciate it!

,Mercy said...


I just made this for my kids. They are really very good.No more Mcdonalds nuggets. Thank you

Ellie said...

Oh, Mercy ... that's wonderful! I am so glad you liked the nuggets. Thanks for sharing your feedback... it made my day:).

Linley Family said...

I'm new to making from scratch, but made these tonight and they were scarfed up quickly! I couldn't get them to form any kind of ball though, so found it difficult to shape them. .... What could I try differently next time? Thank you :)

Ellie said...

Linley Fam, You are welcome:). I am glad you tried the recipe... and that it was liked:).
As for getting the meat mixture "thicker and rollable" you can do 2 things... Refrigerate the meat for 30 minutes or so, the refrigeration firms the meat up. Also pat the chicken a bit with a paper towel to remove any excess water that may be on it. Hope that helps and thanks for your feedback!

unrulywitch said...

I made these tonight and my menfolk are REAL happy right now! I did use half thigh meat, put everything in the processors,seasonings too, just until slightly chunky. refrigerated for an hour. I did make a double recipe of the flour mixture cuz I like to just put it all in a covered container and shake a few at a time when I start breading and less clumping that way.The breading was more like extra crispy KFC, but excellent. I made hot mustard,honey mustard and served ranch and BBQ with a chef salad and I also made tempura mushrooms and cauliflower. A real "fry up". Not a meal we would eat often, but a definite treat!

Ellie said...

Unrulywitch, Thrilled to hear how the chicken nuggets recipe was a success in the house! Thanks a ton for your kind feedback... and sharing your results. It means a lot... just having you take the time to write and share! Appreciate it! Thanks for stopping by and have a wonderful day!
P.S. I loved how you made use of all the frying and added some tempura as well! Great job!