So what if I like chicken nuggets?

It all started a few months ago at the grocery store. We have an excellent local chain grocery here and they often have sampling of new or interesting items. I had been craving fried chicken, and had just recently burned my arm with the oil while making what I considered (unfortunately) sub-par fried chicken. I still have a couple of marks from those burns. 

Anyway, we were at the store and the sample was breaded chicken tenders, an organic version and a gluten free version. Both tasted good for frozen food, and they had an excellent coupon so I bought a package for those super-hungry-kid moments. I think I ate most of them. 

Fast forward a couple months and I’ve bought them 2 more times (without the extra good coupon) and eaten them all myself on nights when, like tonight, the baby needed to get to sleep an hour ago but I haven’t eaten dinner yet. Each time I’ve thought, I should just make these – they’d taste better and be less expensive. I think the package was about half a pound for $11 – on sale. 

So today I made them. They were MUCH better, and much less expensive. As usual (especially with the first time I make something) I didn’t measure anything but this will be a repeat recipe. 

Here is what I used:

1lb organic boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut with scissors into strips (not uniformly)

Salt, pepper, cumin, red pepper flakes, ancho chili powder, fresh garlic

Grassfed lassi (yogurt is a potential substitute, as is an egg)

Fresh breadcrumbs, grated Parmesan, coconut flakes

Baked at 400F for 25 minutes

This is a good one handed recipe for moms with babies on their hips. As is the case with most everything I do, my baby was on my hip (mostly nursing) or at my feet creating obstacle courses for me with all the bowls, bags, and containers in her reach. 

The typical breading process is: dredge with flour, dip into beaten egg, coat with breadcrumbs. Here is why I did NOT do that: 

1. Chicken is bland, flour is bland. Salt and pepper (even with other spices!) in the dredging flour (even in the breadcrumbs too!) hasn’t satisfied me. 

2. I buy the really expensive delicious eggs and I eat them every morning. I didn’t want to waste one (or two!) in this breading process. 

3. Breadcrumbs are yummy, but the packaged ones had additional ingredients that I didn’t want. I knew I had an organic sourdough baguette end, so I toasted a few slices and ground them up to a nice texture. Parmesan was unnecessary but added flavor without more spice. Coconut was also unnecessary but added sweetness without refined sugar. 

First I added spices to the cut up chicken and mixed it with a fork. I was pretty liberal with the seasoning.  Then I added a few glugs of lassi to the bowl and mixed it enough to just coat the chicken. I mixed the breadcrumbs and Parmesan (about equal parts) with a handful of coconut, lined my cookie sheet with parchment paper, and one by one I coated each piece of chicken with the breading mixture. When I got to the last 3 little pieces of chicken, I was out of breading, had no reserve crumbs made, and had a fussy baby, so I opted for just Parmesan and coconut for those. The ended up much darker and also delicious. Next time I will periodically add more coconut to the breading, as it seemed to dwindle after the first few pieces. 

The end result was spectacular. I will need to make bigger batches because it won’t last long in the freezer. 

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