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Dine-In: Taking back the chicken nugget

Now to be clear, I’m not talking about the heavily breaded “parts is parts” chicken nuggets you get through your car window from fast-food joints. My love comes from the homemade kind – big chunks of white-meat chicken carefully dipped and double-dipped before frying to make a crispy, juicy one-bite wonder. There’s just something about the miniature size, along with homemade dipping sauces, that make chicken nuggets a fun food for all ages to enjoy.

But at my house, I try not to fry our food very often, unless it’s okra season of course and then all bets are off.  Otherwise, I have worked to turn my traditional fried recipes into baked ones without sacrificing any flavor or texture.

My family’s favorite baked chicken nugget (or tender if you prefer a bigger size) uses a triple-dip process to get the crispy crunch without having to fry in oil. The flour, egg and breadcrumb coating also seals in the chicken’s delicious juices.

I love serving these with spicy ketchup or a jalapeno Ranch-style dressing.

Baked Chicken Nuggets

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup Panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
2 tablespoons chopped dried herbs of your choice (such as parsley, rosemary or thyme)
Coarse salt to taste
1 tablespoon canola oil
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3 large eggs, beaten

Preheat oven to 425°F. Cut chicken into bite-sized pieces and set aside. In a medium bowl, combine Panko with Parmesan, herbs and a dash of salt. Drizzle oil over and stir well to combine. Place flour and eggs in two separate dipping bowls as well.

Spray a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray. Dip each chicken nugget in flour, egg and Panko mixture, pressing to adhere. Place on baking sheet and bake 7 minutes. Flip and bake an additional 5 minutes. Serve warm with your favorite dipping sauces.


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