Almond Chicken Nuggets


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).