chicken nuggets

Coconut Crusted Chicken

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Coconut Chicken with Mango Salsa

I don't remember when chicken nuggets became one of the stock items on childrens' menus. But it's right up there with pizza, pasta and mac n' cheese.

Of course, grownups like chicken nuggets too. I suppose it's the anything crunchy-fried-golden-brown thing.

Most recipes give chicken nuggets a bread crumb crust, but during Passover there are other alternatives. Check out my recipe below, which has a matzo meal and coconut crust. I keep the pieces bigger than standard nuggets so they feel more like dinner to adults, but you can cut the chicken into smaller chunks to make actual nuggets (which are terrific as hors d'oeuvre).

The coconut gives the chicken a lovely sweet taste, which is fine all by itself, but grown up palates might want to balance that with a refreshing, citrusy, slightly spicy mango salsa.

Coconut Chicken

 

  • 1/4 cup potato starch
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup unsweetened packaged shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup matzo meal
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1-1/2 pounds boneless chicken
  • vegetable oil for frying

 

Place the potato starch in a dish. Beat the eggs in a second dish. Combine the coconut, matzo meal, salt, paprika and garlic powder in a third dish. Slice the chicken into strips (about 2-inches long, 1-inch wide). Press the strips, one by one, into the potato starch, covering the entire surface. Immerse the strips in the egg, making sure to cover the entire surface. Press the egg-coated chicken strips into the coconut mixture, making sure to coat the entire surface. Place the strips on a cake rack and let air dry for at least 15 minutes. Heat about 1/8-inch vegetable oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot enough to make a matzo crumb sizzle, add the strips a few at a time, leaving room between each strip, for about 2 minutes per side, or until golden brown and crispy. Drain on paper towels and repeat with the remaining strips. Serve plain or with Mango Salsa.

 Makes 4 servings

 Mango Salsa

  • 2 cups diced fresh mango
  • 1/2 cup chopped purple onion
  • 1 small chili pepper, deseeded and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh ginger
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • salt to taste

Place the mango, purple onion, chili pepper, mint, ginger, garlic, lime juice, honey and vegetable oil in a bowl and toss the ingredients to distribute them evenly. Sprinkle with salt to taste. Let rest for at least 15 minutes before serving.

Makes about 2-1/2 cups

Chicken Nuggets

I see Back to School signs all over the place and as a matter of fact, here in Connecticut, where there can be a lot of snow days in the winter, teachers are already back at work. The kids start on August 28th, before Labor Day. Just in case. 
 My kids are grown, so I no longer have any of the worries that come with going back to school. About the bus pickup or whether some child they don’t especially like is in their class or whether their new teacher is an ogre who gives too much homework. 
 Those were stressful days, those days before school when the inertia of summer keeps us wanting to stay in place at the beach or in the pool or just lazing around. 
 But we can’t of course. Life goes on. And I am now watching from the grandparent side of things. Hearing the very same things I heard in days gone by. 
 One of the issues that still remains? What to bring for lunch. 
 When it was my kids I heard “baloney stinks.” Grilled cheese is “disgusting” when it’s cold. Soup spills when I open the plastic container. 
 These days everyones’ kids have similar likes and dislikes and there are new considerations such as rules about peanut butter and tree nuts. 
 One food item I knew would always be a winner is chicken nuggets, which are good hot or cold. Plain or dipped in ketchup or hummus. Add a few carrot sticks, a piece of fruit and a small bag of snack and it’s done. 
 It’s still true today. Most kids like chicken nuggets. 
 So that was and still is a good back to school lunch choice. Plus they are easy to make and you can make a lot of them and freeze them for future lunches. 
 Btw, there’s now a handy little device to help folks who go through the lunch planning thing: a new iOS App that was created and designed to help parents and kids plan lunch together for a week at a time (it also creates a shopping list for all the items you need). It was designed —ahem — by my daughter Gillian. But it’s not just me bragging. It’s received rave reviews in  The New York Times  and in-the-know tastemakers like Tina Roth Eisenberg (Swiss-Miss.com), nutritionists and pediatricians have also heaped it with praise. 
 Take a look at Gillian’s website  www.lalalunchbox.com  to read more about it. There’s a huge list of foods available for kids to choose from, but you can also customize items depending on your child’s specific tastes and needs (like allergy issues).  
 Meantime, here’s a recipe for Chicken Nuggets. Btw, these make great hors d’oeuvre for grownups. 
 Chicken Nuggets 
 one pound boneless and skinless chicken breasts 
 1 large egg  
 1 cup panko 
 1 teaspoon salt 
 1/2 teaspoon paprika 
 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder 
 vegetable oil for frying 
 Cut the chicken into about 18-20 (2-3 bite) pieces and put them in a large bowl. Add the egg and mix until the chicken pieces are uniformly coated. In a bowl, mix the panko, salt, paprika and garlic powder together. Dredge the chicken pieces in the panko, pressing to coat all surfaces. If you have time, set aside on a cake rack for 20-30 minutes to air dry. Heat 1/4-inch vegetable oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. When the oil is hot enough to make a bread crumb sizzle, fry the nuggets a few at a time for about 2 minutes per side or until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Do not crowd the pan when frying the chicken. Makes 18-20 pieces. 

I see Back to School signs all over the place and as a matter of fact, here in Connecticut, where there can be a lot of snow days in the winter, teachers are already back at work. The kids start on August 28th, before Labor Day. Just in case.

My kids are grown, so I no longer have any of the worries that come with going back to school. About the bus pickup or whether some child they don’t especially like is in their class or whether their new teacher is an ogre who gives too much homework.

Those were stressful days, those days before school when the inertia of summer keeps us wanting to stay in place at the beach or in the pool or just lazing around.

But we can’t of course. Life goes on. And I am now watching from the grandparent side of things. Hearing the very same things I heard in days gone by.

One of the issues that still remains? What to bring for lunch.

When it was my kids I heard “baloney stinks.” Grilled cheese is “disgusting” when it’s cold. Soup spills when I open the plastic container.

These days everyones’ kids have similar likes and dislikes and there are new considerations such as rules about peanut butter and tree nuts.

One food item I knew would always be a winner is chicken nuggets, which are good hot or cold. Plain or dipped in ketchup or hummus. Add a few carrot sticks, a piece of fruit and a small bag of snack and it’s done.

It’s still true today. Most kids like chicken nuggets.

So that was and still is a good back to school lunch choice. Plus they are easy to make and you can make a lot of them and freeze them for future lunches.

Btw, there’s now a handy little device to help folks who go through the lunch planning thing: a new iOS App that was created and designed to help parents and kids plan lunch together for a week at a time (it also creates a shopping list for all the items you need). It was designed —ahem — by my daughter Gillian. But it’s not just me bragging. It’s received rave reviews in The New York Times and in-the-know tastemakers like Tina Roth Eisenberg (Swiss-Miss.com), nutritionists and pediatricians have also heaped it with praise.

Take a look at Gillian’s website www.lalalunchbox.com to read more about it. There’s a huge list of foods available for kids to choose from, but you can also customize items depending on your child’s specific tastes and needs (like allergy issues). 

Meantime, here’s a recipe for Chicken Nuggets. Btw, these make great hors d’oeuvre for grownups.

Chicken Nuggets

one pound boneless and skinless chicken breasts

1 large egg 

1 cup panko

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

vegetable oil for frying

Cut the chicken into about 18-20 (2-3 bite) pieces and put them in a large bowl. Add the egg and mix until the chicken pieces are uniformly coated. In a bowl, mix the panko, salt, paprika and garlic powder together. Dredge the chicken pieces in the panko, pressing to coat all surfaces. If you have time, set aside on a cake rack for 20-30 minutes to air dry. Heat 1/4-inch vegetable oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. When the oil is hot enough to make a bread crumb sizzle, fry the nuggets a few at a time for about 2 minutes per side or until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Do not crowd the pan when frying the chicken. Makes 18-20 pieces. 

Almond Chicken Nuggets

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We’re snowed in and that’s fine with me because I love a quiet day at home. I can read and also catch up on Rubicon, which I realize has been over for quite some time now but not in my house. We’re only through episode #5.

Mostly I am going to cook because my cousins are coming for the New Year’s weekend. I need lots of food and wine. But, to tell the truth, less food and wine than last year and that was less than the year before and certainly much less than, say 15 years ago.

You eat and drink less as you get older. At least that’s what we are finding out.

Our new year’s weekend get together started years and years ago, when we were young and had little kids and we had learned about the usually awful service at restaurants on New Year’s Eve and we were too tired to party at some friend’s house into the wee small hours and besides a babysitter would have cost double that night. So we decided on sleepovers.

After a few years my brother and sister-in-law, once skiers, decided that dinner at my house with the cousins was less of a schlep, so the tradition grew to include their family. We’d feed the kids and send them down to the basement playroom or to bed and we’d have dinner late, they way you can when you’re young.

I used to have a different menu every New Year’s Eve and over the years there were wonderful dinners, but also some disasters. Like the Beef Stroganoff, grayish and awful looking, so many years ago that no one teases about it anymore because it’s such an old thing.

After years and years we finally settled on a couple of entrees we’d stick to: rib roast or rack of lamb. And even that passed. Now we always have rib roast with Rosemary Sauteed Potatoes and some vegetable or other. Desserts are Apple Pie and some kind of (usually plum) cobbler that I made in October or November when the fruit was available, and stored away in the freezer.

And because we’re older now and we can’t eat (or drink) the same quantities that we used to and find it stressful to fill up at one meal, we begin our celebration at mid day with hors d’oeuvre. Those change every year, although I always make Chicken-Almond Nuggets because they are irresistible. They’re also easy to make and I can freeze them ahead.

I’ll make some today in fact. It’s a good day for it. And in case you’re snowbound or just feel like cooking something really wonderful, here’s the recipe.

Almond Chicken Nuggets

  • 2 whole boneless and skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 large egg white
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon Chinese cooking sherry (or use white wine or sherry)
  • 1-1/2 cups ground almonds
  • vegetable oil for frying

Cut the chicken into bite size pieces and put them in a large bowl. Add the egg white,  cornstarch, salt and sherry and mix until the chicken pieces are uniformly coated with the mixture. Dredge the chicken pieces in the almonds, pressing to coat the entire piece. Set aside, preferably on a cake rack, for 20-30 minutes to air dry slightly. Heat 1/4-inch vegetable oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. When the oil is hot enough to make an almond crumb sizzle, fry the chicken pieces a few at a time for 2-3 minutes per side or until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Do not crowd the pan when frying the chicken. Makes about 36 pieces. Serve hot. 

These may be reheated in a hot oven (425 degrees) for 2-3 minutes per side (more if the nuggets have ben frozen or refrigerated and cold).