Wednesday, October 05, 2011

31 Days: Day 5 - Home cooked meals

How many of you would agree that coming into a home where something good is cooking on the stove improves the whole house? I even read somewhere that if you really want to sell your house, you should bake some chocolate chip cookies before the open house and it's as good as sold. I don't know how many times that's worked, but I myself have fallen under the spell of a fresh baked cookie so I don't doubt it!

Today I'm going to share a recipe Pioneer Woman style. Who doesn't like a recipe with step by step photos? It's practically fool proof. The only problem with my recipes, those that are really mine, is that I don't always have exact measurements. I know there are people who live by the perfectly leveled tablespoon, I'm just not one of those girls. Luckily, exact measurements aren't a make or break issue in this recipe.

I hope you don't have chocolate chip cookies on your mind now because you're gonna have to switch gears a little. I'm sharing my recipe for chicken nuggets. My kids love chicken nuggets. When I say love, I mean it doesn't matter if it's Tyson frozen nuggets or Chick Fila, they eat em up. In fact, my oldest daughter claims she doesn't eat chicken and sticks pretty close to her claims except when it comes breaded in the form of a nugget. I'm not much for packaged things, not that I'm a food snob, I just like to do things myself which usually involves less moolah. I have been making my own version of chicken nuggets for a while now and I rarely have leftovers.

The most important ingredient is, of course, the chicken. Another thing I started doing a while back is buying thighs instead of breasts. I can't remember who influenced me to go from breasts to thighs, but it happened and I haven't ever gone back. Every time I eat a piece of dry chicken breast I think to myself, Yep, that's why I'm a thigh girl. Never goin back. 

The next thing you want to do is thaw your chicken and cut it into bite-sized pieces. Think Chik-Fila. Not perfect, uniform pieces, just small enough so they'll cook fast. The next thing I did was make the stuff for the breading. These are the things you'll need for that.

I just took a bowl and cracked an egg into it and then added about 3/4 of a cup of buttermilk. Next add your chicken pieces a little at a time to coat them. This isn't like chicken fried steak where you hand dip each piece and then dredge in flour. You gotta work these little guys in groups.

For my breading, I usually just do bread crumbs and they're fine, but this time I added flour to that. So I guess you could say I had about a cup of bread crumbs and 3/4 cup of flour. Then I added some Red Robin season salt. Mix it all in good and then add your chicken pieces. My only piece of advice here is to make sure you shake off some of the egg mixture before you add them or you'll have big chunks of breading and egg and you'll have to make more breading before it's all said and done.

Once you have your chicken pieces coated, just add them a piece at a time to your hot oil. I used vegetable oil because that's what I had. You can use whatever frying oil you're used to.

I was on my fourth batch before I actually looked at my clock to see how long these things take to cook. It really only takes 3 minutes to cook each batch. I put them in and then a minute and a half later, I turned them over. The great thing about thighs is that there's not a big risk of overcooking and drying them  out. Thigh meat is dark meat so it's gonna stay tender and juicy even if you get scared and think 3 minutes isn't long enough.

Aren't they lovely?!? They're perfectly seasoned and crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside. I had to block off the kitchen to keep little fingers out just so I could take a picture....and then they were gone. Such is the life of a chicken nugget at my house.

Click here for the rest of the 31 Days posts.

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