Now there are two words which instantly bring a smile to mine and Hungry Hubby’s faces. Being forever the kids we were when we met, trapped in the 30-something bodies we begrudgingly find ourselves today, we love all sorts of food which is typically thought of as kid’s food. I
n Nigella’s magnum opus, How To Eat, I recall reading how she felt the very notion of “children’s food” was an unnecessary one as there is no need for food to be specifically designed for children – they should be encouraged to eat good food, full stop.
Commercialisation and mass production of breaded or battered strips of chicken and packaging them in brightly coloured cardboard boxes served out of driveway hutches may have devalued them and bring to mind mistreated chickens and E-numbers galore but when made at home with good quality, free range chicken, these Ranch Chicken Nuggets are one seriously delicious treat, fit for the dinner tables of any grown up or child!
If I had to pick a cut of chicken, it would almost always be chicken thighs for their flavour and how tender they become with slow and low cooking. Like in my Piri Piri Chicken with Chorizo and Black Beans.
However, I use chicken breast for my nuggets (am I the only one giggling here?!) as after a swim in some buttermilk over night before cooking, they are super, super soft and tender. Adding in some ranch seasoning to the marinade along with some fresh garlic gives these luscious nuggets bags of flavour. I sneak some seasoning into the seasoned flour I use to coat them in too to be sure they are flavour packed.
Like in my Homemade KFC recipe, I only use flour instead of going to the bother of making a batter or remembering not to eat all the bread to make breadcrumbs. If anything, this fine layer of seasoned coating is far superior to both options and a lot less work. Plus the buttermilk acts as glue so it adheres without having to dip them in egg first. This is my own Ranch Seasoning recipe, in case you can’t buy it ready made where you live (pin this for future reference):
The thing with frying food at home (a rare treat in the Apple Chapel) is that it makes me conscious of the need to balance it with a mountain of salad on the side. A side effect of home cooking, rather than ordering a takeaway 😉 Hungry Hubby may have preferred baked beans and chips in the past but his personal trainer is now following my blog so salad it is for us… What would you serve yours with? A bottle of Sriracha is just out of sight for me!
- 400 g chicken breast
- 284 ml buttermilk
- 1 large clove of garlic minced
- 1 rounded tsp ranch seasoning
- 150 g plain flour
- 1 rounded tsp ranch seasoning
- Sea salt and black pepper as liked
- Oil for shallow frying I like rice bran oil but veg oil, canola or light olive oil will work too
If the chicken breast is of uneven thickness, beat it with a meat mallet, pestle or rolling pin to an even thickness, slightly under 1cm thick would be just right. Cut into 1-2 inch size pieces, no bigger.
Mix the buttermilk and seasonings together then thoroughly coat the chicken with it. Cover and chill over night (a couple of hours in the fridge is the minimum I would leave it to get good and tender).
When ready to cook, place a baking tray in the oven and set it to low/about 100˚C.
Whisk the flour and seasoning together then retrieve the chicken in it's marinade and drop the chicken in, shaking off most of the buttermilk as you go. I use one per of tongs for this and a second pair later on for transferring to the pan and turning with. Makes for less mess!
Place a large frying pan or buffet style casserole on the hob and add enough oil to come up about 5mm. A larger pan means you can cook more nuggets at once but you will need more oil.
Test with a nugget to see if it sizzles when placed into the hot oil and if so, add as many as you can without overcrowding the pan. Cook for approx 5 mins per side until golden brown then turn and cook the second side.
Transfer briefly to a pile of kitchen roll then transfer to the preheated baking tray in the oven to keep warm as you finish the rest of the nuggets.
Serve as soon as the last nugget is done!
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