cheesy chicken nuggets
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What’s better than crispy chicken nuggets? Cheesy chicken nuggets, that’s what.
I buy my chicken fillets from the local butcher’s; the chickens are local too, raised free range on a nearby farm. They are clearly happy birds which you can tell by the quality of the meat: firm-textured and full of flavour. They are also allowed to roam for much longer than an average chicken lifespan because the fillets are simply enormous: those are no tiny, puny, miserable battery poultry but loud and proud big, grown up chickens.
An average fillet weighs sometimes nearly a pound – and, before you ask, they are untouched by growth hormones nor injected with salty water. A pound of chicken fillet means that not only we always share just one but I also cut off the tender – the mini fillet attached to one side. I collect those in my freezer and when there are a few, I have a nugget orgy.
Yes, they are fried and yes, there’s cheese underneath the breadcrumb or cornmeal coating. But the golden rule of moderation tells me I’m allowed to have a blow-out of fried food after a series of sensibly baked fillets. By all means, bake the nuggets too – only they will be half as crisp and nowhere near as appealing. A side of fries is optional though.
Of course, you can use whole fillets if yours are more sensible size. They should be cut into bite-sized chunks, of course, and the seasoning is entirely ad lib but I stick by my magic combo of garlic, paprika and oregano.
cheesy chicken nuggetsServings: 4Time: 30 minutes plus marinating and chilling
- 350g (10 oz.) chicken fillets or mini fillets, skinless
- 1 tsp salt flakes
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp garlic granules
- ½ tsp smoked paprika
- 2-3 tbsp. plain yoghurt
- 100g (1 cup) finely grated cheese (Emmental, Gruyere, Gouda etc.)
- 2 eggs beaten with 2 tbsp. water
- 250g (1 cup) coarse cornmeal
- oil, for frying
1. Cut the chicken into nuggets, 5 x 5cm or other as preferred, set aside.
2. Grind the salt with the oregano, garlic and paprika in pestle and mortar. Stir it into the yoghurt in a medium bowl, add the chicken pieces and toss to coat. Chill for at least 30 minutes.
3. Prepare two shallow plates, one with the grated cheese, the other with cornmeal. Beat the eggs with water in a shallow bowl. Lift the chicken pieces from the marinade, roll in the cheese then dip in egg wash and coat in the cornmeal. Place them on a kitchen towel lined tray and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes.
4. Pour enough oil to cover the bottom of a large, non-stick frying pan. Heat over medium-high heat until a crumb of cornmeal tossed in sizzles. Add the nuggets, in batches if necessary, and fry for a couple of minutes on each side until golden and crisp. Lift from the pan, drain on a kitchen towel and keep on a tray in a low oven until all the nuggets are cooked.
5. Serve with mayo, dipping sauces, fries – or just carrots and peas.