When my daughter was eighteen months old I proudly, and a little bit smugly, watched as she downed just about every food that was put in front of her; broccoli, asparagus, cheese, steak – she ate with abandon and glee. I naively believed that we had escaped one of the most difficult and frustrating parts of parenting – the picky eater.
Then she turned two, and it was as if a switch was flipped on her birthday and my adventurous eater who used to wolf down a baked potato loaded with butter, cheese, bacon, chives, sour cream and broccoli would only eat sour cream and cheese – alone, with a spoon. She turned her nose up at everything I put in front of her, even things she used to love.
One day we were out to eat and she stole a chicken nugget off of one of her friend’s plate. Before I could scold her and make her give it back, she did something incredible – she ate the chicken nugget. All of it. And wanted more. Ever since I have been on a quest to perfect the chicken nugget. Those frozen nuggets you can get at the store might taste good, and are great in a pinch, but if my daughter was only going to eat one kind of meat I wanted to know exactly what she was eating – no mystery, processed chicken parts coated in unknown and unpronounceable ingredients. Below is the basic recipe that we love in my family, and the best part is that you can tailor it to your family’s needs and tastes. Even if you don’t have picky eaters, this is sure to be a winner at the dinner table.
- 2lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch cubes
- 2 cups panko bread crumbs
- ½ cup parmesan cheese
- 2/3 cups mayonnaise
- Salt and pepper to taste
Using panko bread crumbs give the nuggets a great, crispy crunch but you can use whatever you have available. I have also found that using mayonnaise keeps the chicken nice and moist while it is baking, but you can also use 2-3 whisked eggs as a coating.
- Preheat oven to 400F degrees.
- Coat a large baking sheet with cooking spray.
- Place the chicken in a small bowl along with the mayonnaise and stir until all the chicken is covered. Sprinkle mixture with salt and pepper.
- In another bowl, mix together panko bread crumbs, salt, pepper and parmesan cheese*. Add the chicken to the bowl and stir until the chicken is well coated. You may need to press the chicken into the mixture.
- Place the chicken on the baking sheet and bake, uncovered, until the chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes.
* This is a great step to customize your chicken nuggets. You could use garlic and onion powder, cayenne pepper, Italian seasoning, taco seasoning or ranch dressing seasoning to change the flavor of the nuggets.
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