The Inspiration Behind This Recipe
In honor of Chick-Fil-A appreciation day, O and I decided to have an appreciation day of our own: equality appreciation day. We really don’t feel the need to agree with the politics of any corporation or its officers, but there’s something about a little piece of our nugget value meal going towards ex-gay rehabilitation that makes us itchy.
Oh, that, and, it’s insanely unhealthy? It’s insanely unhealthy.
There’s this odd misconception that, I suppose because the chicken at Chick-Fil-A has a grain to the meat, it’s remotely healthy. People genuinely believe it’s better for you than Burger King, or whatever, and some genuinely believe it’s not unhealthy. Those people are about as wrong about nutrition as Chick-Fil-A is about what makes someone gay (personal choice, of course!). Does this, my friends, look healthy to you?
All this to say.. O, however,
loves loved Chick-Fil-A. Despite his usually overpowering preference when it comes to a quick Saturday lunch, even he gave up the chain after the hateful reveal of where our money is actually going. What does a man who takes a stance deserve?
Skip the Drive-Thru and Make Your Own Chicken Nuggets
I’d been interested in a copycat Chick-Fil-A nugget before–partly for health reasons, but mostly the challenge. I based our attempt on two separate recipes: Iowa Girl Eats Chick-Fil-A Bites and Food Network’s Almost Famous Chicken Sandwiches. What did I learn? If I can say nothing else, it’s:
Always marinade everything in pickle juice. This is not a joke.
I’m guessing the pickle brine caused some chemical reaction that broke down the chicken protein, resulting in a more tender, saline-solution-inspired flavorful bite of meat. We’re so used to the taste of the pickle juice-marinated chicken with Chick-Fil-A batter that I’m not sure how well it would work with, say, rosemary and garlic pan roasted chicken thighs, but you can’t keep me from trying. Just try. Just try!
I’m not 100% happy with the coating in one sense: it didn’t taste exactly like Chick-Fil-A. I’d increase the amount of powered sugar and definitely deep fry, if I wanted a true replica. However, for a first attempt and a pan fry, they were remarkable. So, in the other sense–the one based entirely off of personal taste and general self-satisfaction: 100% happy.
O adored them, and I had visions of our future.. him at the kids’ table, happily snacking away on chicken nuggets and dunking his little Ore-Ida fries in ketchup while the foie gras-seared filet stuffed with homemade boursin I made for him gets cold at the adult table. For some reason in this vision, I in no way care about my children’s diets and spend $50 a meal on us.
Why You’ll Love These Nuggets
- Because you can. Because they’re simple and fulfilling and make everyone who eats them happy,
- Because you prefer not to propagate hate, or because you enjoy the satisfaction of voting with your dollar–for freedom and equality, or against prejudice, or
- Because there’s a total of twelve ingredients vs. the original: over fifty.
We ate these with incredible oven roasted fries–post to follow, and Iowa Girl Eats’ Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce, which was excellent. I added a bit more honey, and I’d probably cut the dijon by a bit, but otherwise, the creaminess was dead on, and the smooth mustard flavor paired nicely with the bites.
- 2 large chicken breasts cut into bite-sized pieces, seasoned with salt and pepper
- 3/4 cup milk 3/4 cup
- 1/4 cup pickle juice 1/4 cup
- 1 piece egg 1 regular size egg
- 1 cup all-purpose flour all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon malted milk powder malted milk powder
- 2 tablespoons powdered sugar sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda a pinch
- 1/4 teaspoon ground mustard dry
- 1 teaspoon paprika a pinch
- 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
- 1 teaspoon black pepper or to taste
- Whisk together egg, milk and pickle juice, and pour into a large ziplock bag or bowl. Add chicken pieces and marinate in the refrigerator for 2-4 hours.
- Combine flour, powdered sugar, malted milk powder, baking soda, dry mustard, paprika, and salt and pepper in a large ziplock bag or large paper grocery bag. Shake to combine. Remove chicken from the marinade and add into the bag. Shake to coat the chicken completely.
- Heat half the oil in a large skillet or dutch oven over medium-high heat (6 or 7 out of 10.) Test the oil by dropping in a bit of the flour mixture or a few droplets of water. If it sizzles, the oil is ready. If it pops, lower the temperature a bit.
- Gently place chicken pieces into the oil with tongs. Do this in 2 batches, as you don’t want to overcrowd the pan. Cook the chicken for 3-4 minutes, or until golden brown on one side. Turn the chicken over and allow to cook for 3-4 more minutes. Remove to a paper-towel lined plate. Heat the remaining oil and continue with the other half of the chicken pieces.
- Stir together the honey mustard dipping sauce ingredients, and serve with the hot chicken bites.
Number of total servings shown is approximate. Actual number of servings will depend on your preferred portion sizes.
Nutritional values shown are general guidelines and reflect information for 1 serving using the ingredients listed, not including any optional ingredients. Actual macros may vary slightly depending on specific brands and types of ingredients used.
To determine the weight of one serving, prepare the recipe as instructed. Weigh the finished recipe, then divide the weight of the finished recipe (not including the weight of the container the food is in) by the desired number of servings. Result will be the weight of one serving.