It’s 5:30 in the evening and dance class just let out. The dance studio is swarming with people just like me– parents on a mission to get home and eat dinner.
By the time I heave two small bodies into the car and navigate traffic, we aren’t home until nearly six.
This is when I normally give-in to the cravings of a three and six year-old and drive my way through dinner. It’s turned into a weekly ritual and I’m ready for that to stop.
I’m trying to limit these occurrences by making sure my freezer is stocked with homemade food that will meet our food needs when the days are long.
Since chicken nuggets tend to be the go-to meal of choice for my little ones, it had to be the first item to begin the freezer stocking process.I’ve been making chicken tenders (and occasionally storing in the freezer) for years now, however, it no longer seemed to satisfy their chicken nugget craving.
I knew what needed to be done. The chicken tenders needed to be revamped and resized– I needed to add one step.
Cut the chicken into nugget pieces. Ugh.
“Do you mind cutting these chicken tenders into nugget-sized pieces for me?”
The Market Street butcher happily obliged.
This is going to be so much easier.
With a pip in my step, now that my one hold-up has been removed, I bee-bopped my way to the cashier. These nuggets are going to be a cinch after all, thanks to Market Street’s grocery services.Walking out of the store I chatted up the high-school student who bagged my groceries AND took my groceries out to the car. We talked about the weather and then he asked what I was cooking.
“Cool. I wish my mom would have made me homemade chicken nuggets.”
For 24 hours these chicken nuggets marinate and soak in all that salty flavorful goodness. Once ready to cook, all they need is a quick pat-dry and then a coat of cornbread mix.
Did I cave? I wanted to. However, I stayed true to my heart’s desire to feed my children food that I have prepared.
There was some wailing, but once I got them home and popped those beauties into the oven there was only one issue.
“But mama, we want French fries too.”
Author note: If a more pickely flavor is desired for the nuggets, use ¾ cup of pickle juice in the marinade. I have cooked them both ways, as one child prefers it less pickely while the other prefers it more pickely. Make sure the chicken marinades for 24 hours. Keep in mind some cornbread mixtures fry better than others. I have found that Bob Mills cornbread mixture does a very good job. These nuggets are freezer friendly.
2 pounds chicken tenders, cut into nugget sized pieces
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1/2 cup pickle juice
3 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cups cornbread mix
- In a large bowl, add the chicken, buttermilk, pickle juice and 1 teaspoon salt. Cover and let marinade for 24 hours.
- Combine the cornbread mix and 2 ¼ teaspoons of salt into a pie pan. Stir well.
- Remove the chicken from the marinade and pat dry.
- Meanwhile, fill a large cast iron skillet with a ¼ inch of canola oil and heat over medium heat.
- In batches, take the chicken and place in the pie pan. Coat the nuggets all over with the cornbread and salt mixture. Once the oil is hot, add the chicken to the skillet (don’t crowd the pan!).
- Cook for 2-3 minutes per side, or until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees. Remove the nuggets and place on a paper towel lined baking sheet.
- Continue this process until all the chicken is cooked. It will take about 3 to 4 batches. Serve warm.