Do You Have Nugget Fatigue?
By Jorj Morgan
If even the kids are getting tired of chicken with frostbite, itís ďthymeĒ for a fresher, better recipe!
For children age 6 and under, mealtime is a revolving door of the same olí same olí. Thereís PBJ, mac 'n cheese, pizza, and the almighty chicken nugget, which comes in a value meal of 4 or 6 pieces at the drive-thru, in a big plastic bag that sits in your freezer, or on the childrenís menu at nearly every restaurant on earth. So, may I present to you the nugget fatigue test! Find out if your loved ones have it by asking any mom what their kids like to eat, and itís possible youíll get what I like to call The Golden Nugget Review. In fact, some of the people I interviewed to bring you this article say that they could—if blindfolded and engaged in a nugget taste test—tell you if it came from Wendyís, McDonaldís, Chick Fil A, or Burger King. This is sad, folks, and not very cost-effective either.
Nuggets of wisdom
At the grocery store a big bag of frozen nuggets costs around $7. This is a ridiculous amount to pay in exchange for freezer-burned chicken that would stay in tact during an apocalypse. And donít even talk to me about the way nuggets (AKA strips & fingers) are presented at most restaurants—the dipping sauces make a foodie want to weep! Itís already not-so-healthy, and yet the cooks at these establishments want your precious child to plunge one deep-fried piece of chicken after another into ketchup or ranch dressing.
Ladies and Gentleman, get ready for elegant chicken fingers of which even Mr. Wolfgang Puck would approve
So Iím proposing skipping the restaurant, drive-thru, and that big frozen bag of near-calcified chicken parts, and getting more bang for your buck this way: MAKING YOUR OWN CHICKEN FINGERS AT HOME! For the same price as a frozen bag of nuggets, you can pick up 6 to 8 ounces of fresh, boneless chicken breast; the other supplies my Parmesan Chicken Fingers with a Curried Ginger Cashew Dipping Sauce require will last forever in your pantry. You may even find that your children—even your adult diners—like this recipe so much that they request some of its spices (like curry, thyme and ginger) be tried again in other chicken dishes.
My favorite part about these gourmet fingers?
They utilize a primary ingredient that kids across the nation already hold near and dear—corn flakes! So now that the crunchy, yummy cereal you dredge the chicken through has supplied the fiber, look toward the other ingredients, like cashews and spinach, to pack the rest of the nutritive punch. But beyond that, this is your chance to educate your children about ginger root, curry, and other spice rack faves that show little people the amazing world beyond the salt, pepper, and oil their fast food haunts use way too much of.
Who knew my special chicken strips were just another excuse to shop?
Just one more thing before I go: you need a food processor to prepare this recipe. If this is a kitchen gadget you donít yet have, see if a friend will loan you hers—or better yet, just bite the bullet and go out and get one. If I had a nickel for every time my Cuisinart has saved the day, Iíd be a millionaire! OkayÖ I leave you now, with an express directive to go out and shop for cute kidsí dipping bowls and trays that make eating food like this more of an event. When I find the sort of thing Iím looking for, Iíll make a big to-do out of posting it on Nanaís Favorite Things!
Parmesan Chicken Fingers
With Curried Ginger Cashew Dipping Sauce
Makes 4 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
For the chicken fingers:
2 large (6- to 8-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut into 1-inch strips
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 cups corn flake crumbs
4 ounces finely grated Parmesan cheese (about Ĺ cup)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon ground paprika
2 tablespoons olive oil
Juice of 1 medium lemon (about 2 tablespoons)
For the sauce:
1 (1-inch piece) ginger, peeled
1 cup cashews
Ĺ cup reduced fat sour cream
ľ cup fresh baby spinach leaves, washed and dried
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground curry
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Use a fork to stir together the corn flake crumbs, Parmesan cheese, thyme, and paprika in a shallow bowl.
Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Dredge the chicken pieces in the corn flake mixture. Cook in the skillet, turning once, until golden, about 4 to 6 minutes. Transfer to a baking dish that has been coated with vegetable oil spray. Drizzle the chicken with lemon juice. Bake in the oven until cooked through, about 15 to 20 minutes.
Place the ginger into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until minced. Add the cashews and pulse until smooth. Add the sour cream, spinach leaves, brown sugar, and curry. Pulse until well combined. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving bowl.
To serve, place the chicken fingers onto a platter garnished with lemon wedges. Serve the sauce on the side for dipping.