What’s better than crispy chicken nuggets? Cheesy chicken nuggets, that’s what.
Buy free range
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.
I can tell these chicken fillets from non-free range even blindfold purely by touching or cutting the raw meat.
What to do with the chicken tenders?
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 the two of us always share just one but I also cut off the tender – the mini fillet attached to one side.
I collect those in a bag in my freezer and when there are a few, I have a nugget orgy.
Chicken nuggets every now and then
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 standard 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.
How to make cheesy nuggets?
Even if using dried spices and herbs, it is good to give them a whizz in a pestle and mortar with a pinch of sea salt flakes - it helps the individual spices merge and amalgamate into your individual Chicken Nugget Seasoning. And yoghurt is a magic marinating ingredient as Indian cuisine knows well, as it helps the flavours penetrate into the meat.
Once the chicken has marinated for at least half an hour, set up the coating station: grated cheese in one dish, beaten egg with another and the coating agent in the third. Egg wash beaten with a tablespoon of water sticks better. The coating can be cornmeal like here, or breadcrumbs.
The nuggets don't need deep frying, so that health bogeyman is chased off in this instance. Shallow frying is sufficient, with just enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan.
The fries are totally optional.