The other night, when I was at Cate‘s house for our Blogger Thanksgiving fest, we were reheating a batch of these Homemade Seasoned Baked Chicken Nuggets that I made for the kids. Cate asked me if they were done right after I’d checked on them, and I said “No, they aren’t humming yet.”
It never occurred to me that would be a weird thing to say. It never occurred to me that the idea of food humming is something that not everyone thinks. Or hears. Or says. Yea. But Patsy, Joanne and Cate set me straight. It’s definitely a Sarah-ism. (In my defense, that’s really what I look for whenever I reheat food — the hum of sizzling warmed food.)
So, about the chicken nuggets … honestly, I had never thought of making my own until a recent Skinny Chicken Nuggets post on Tablespoon set off a wild obsession with baked chicken nuggets for me. My kids love chicken nuggets (I think it’s written somewhere in the kid handbook that they have to), and I like feeding them good, wholesome, homemade food that doesn’t take long to make.
Ding. Ding. Ding! We have a winner.
These start with fresh breadcrumbs made from leftover bread (I use the ends of loaves). Just whirl it in a food processor into fine crumbs.
Why fresh? Two reasons: one, the taste is just better and two, you can control the type of bread you use — like that favorite 12-grain that is omnipresent in your kitchen. So, once you have those fresh crumbs, you toast one cup of the crumbs with a clove of chopped garlic in a hot skillet until golden brown. If you have extra breadcrumbs, toast them in a resealable bag and freeze until ready to use.
Once the crumbs are toasted, whirl them again in the food processor with the garlic, salt, pepper and paprika. This will ensure that the seasonings are well-distributed throughout.
Now, for the chicken, you need to cut chicken tenderloins into nugget size pieces. Don’t worry. It only takes a minute or two. Aim for 1″x1″ pieces.
Dredge the chicken in the seasoned breadcrumbs.
- Cooking oil spray
- 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs, run a slice or two through the food processor
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- 1/2 tsp sweet Hungarian paprika
- 1 lb chicken tenderloins, cut into 1" pieces
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with nonstick aluminum foil (or regular foil sprayed with cooking oil).
- Heat a medium skillet over medium heat on the stove. Spray lightly with cooking oil spray. Add the breadcrumbs and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned. Transfer to a food processor and add the salt, pepper and paprika. Whirl until well combined. Pour into a bowl.
- Spray the chicken pieces with cooking oil spray. Then, dredge each one into the breadcrumb mixture, coating all over. Transfer to the baking sheet. Nuggets can be super close together, but shouldn't touch. Once all the nuggets have been breaded, spray lightly with cooking oil.
- Slide the baking sheet into the oven. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until the downside is golden. Flip all the nuggets. Then bake for another 5 minutes.
- Serve immediately.
- To reheat: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the cooked chicken nuggets on a baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes, until they are sizzling.
Sarah Walker Caron is a cookbook author, freelance writer and founder of Sarah’s Cucina Bella. She is the author of four cookbooks including The Super Easy 5-Ingredient Cookbook and One-Pot Pasta, both from Rockridge Press. A single mother to a tween and a teen, Sarah loves nightly family dinners, juicy tomatoes plucked fresh from the vine and lazy days on the beach. She also adores reading and traveling.