Lots of folks on the Internet have some great knock-off chicken nuggets recipes (that taste mighty similar to a certain fast-food item from an establishment known for its advertising campaigns filled with cow antics) that we’ve enjoyed trying out and tinkering with. Not too long ago, we realized that we had some chicken brining in pickle juice for this recipe, but we had failed to pick up eggs at our farmers’ market. We looked in the fridge and saw that we had some of our homemade mayo (recipe here) and since mayo is mostly eggs anyway, we decided to give that a shot for the “batter” to help the coating adhere. We swear the mayo coating helped these retain their moisture and were even more delicious. If you don’t have mayo on hand, just use two lightly beaten eggs in step 2. We like to use a large, deep Dutch oven to cook this recipe. For starters, it helps minimize the oil splatter on the stove, and using cast iron helps make the heat distribution a bit more even. Serve the nuggets with our honey mustard and/or No-Cook Barbecue Sauce.
SERVES 6 TO 8 (OR ONE HUNGRY TODDLER) / PREP TIME: 10 MINUTES, PLUS MARINATING TIME / TOTAL TIME: 30 MINUTES
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs, cut into bite-size nuggets of even size
⅓ cup dill pickle juice (we like Bubbies brand)
½ cup mayonnaise, store-bought (Paleo-friendly is ideal) or homemade
½ cup coconut oil, divided
½ cup almond flour (see Note)
½ cup arrowroot starch/flour or tapioca flour
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon onion powder
¾ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1. At least 15 minutes before cooking, but as long as a day ahead, place the chicken pieces and pickle juice in a large resealable plastic bag, and mix to ensure even distribution of the pickle juice. Refrigerate until ready to proceed to step 2.
2. When ready to cook the nuggets, drain the chicken pieces in a colander. Return the chicken to the bag and add the mayonnaise, massaging the bag to evenly coat the pieces with the mayo.
3. Heat a large Dutch. Add ¼ cup of the oil and heat.
4. While the oil is heating, in a large bowl, combine the almond flour, arrowroot starch/flour, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper. Add the chicken pieces to the mixture and coat well.
5. When the oil reaches temperature, add several pieces of the chicken (being sure not to crowd the pan). After cooking about 3 minutes on the first side to a golden brown color, use tongs to flip to the other side and continue until cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes longer.
6. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels. Continue cooking the chicken in batches, adding the additional ¼ cup oil if needed (though you’ll need to let it come to temperature).
NOTE: If you’re nut-free, replace the almond flour with an equal amount of arrowroot starch/flour or tapioca flour.