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Easy egg-free chicken nuggets, fish sticks

Submitted by on Tuesday, 26 August 2008 No Comment

The problem with Big Guy and store-bought fish sticks and nuggets is not so much the egg, but the ubiquitous garlic. And the problem with garlic is manufacturers don’t have to note it on ingredient labels.

Ever notice that generic reference to “spices” on packaging? Spices can be just about anything, and I’ve given up on trying to find out exactly what they are. I’ve spend ages on phone calls and emails only to have companies shrug a “don’t know” at me.

So I came up with this adaptation of an oven-fried chicken recipe my family’s used for years. Except I’m lazy, so I’ve cut out a few steps along the way.

The beauty of it: The base is stuff you’d usually throw away. I start with a collection of chip and cracker crumbs from the bottom of the bag that I’ve saved in the freezer. Cheez-It shards are a great flavor boost! I’ll add to it if need be, or sometimes I’ll buy a ginormous bag of tortilla chips. You can find them on the West Coast for $3 to $5.

I grind the chips/crackers in the food processor until they resemble bread crumbs. Then I add various spices, depending on my mood.

The last nuggets I made included cumin, a dash of cayenne, mild chili powder and onion powder. Watch the chili powder, though. It’s hard to find any not adulterated with garlic. I usually buy mine at a Mexican store. I use boneless breasts or thighs — the guys seem to like the thighs a bit better — and cut the chicken with kitchen shears to speed the process up a bit.

The last fish stick mix included dill weed and onion powder. The last fish I made was whiting. It was a royal pain to prepare, even with the kitchen shears.

I dip the chicken or fish in buttermilk — club soda also works well if you’re dealing with a milk allergy — and then the crumb mixture. Coat a cookie sheet or jelly roll pan with cooking spray, then bake for 10 minutes.

I usually buy the big bulk bags and prepare five pounds of chicken or fish at a time. It will take a couple hours, but has the advantage of leaving you with something you can pull out of the freezer and have ready quickly on a hectic week night.

I reheat in the oven for 10 minutes.

The guys’ review:

Little Guy: Loves it. Asked me to make the nuggets hotter next time.

Big Guy: Wants to call the fire department to put out what he claims is a blaze in his mouth from the nuggets. OK, so maybe I back off the cayenne and make Little Guy a really hot taco sauce.

Copyright 2008 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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