My sister and I started making this alternative to the ubiquitous ultra-processed fried chicken nuggets for my niece Sarah a decade ago.
Store-bought bread crumbs can be stale and loaded with sodium, so try making your own. Toast two slices of bread, let them cool, and process them into crumbs in a small food processor. You can also use panko, Japanese bread crumbs, or toss in ground cornflakes for extra crunch.
Cooking the chicken on a cooling rack allows the dry heat to crisp both sides, but if you don’t have one, simply coat a parchment or foil-lined cookie sheet with cooking spray, and turn the chicken pieces over after10 minutes. Try to use real cheese rather than a canned variety; it will make a big difference in flavor.
Baked Chicken Nuggets
Makes about 2 dozen nuggets
1-1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts or tenders
1 cup bread crumbs
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon dried thyme or mixed herbs
Pinch of cayenne (optional)
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup skim milk, yogurt, or buttermilk
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place a cooling rack in the center of a cookie sheet. Set aside.
Cut the chicken breasts into 1-1/2 inch pieces. In a shallow bowl or a large plastic bag, mix together the bread crumbs, cheese, salt, dried herbs, cayenne (if using), and a few grinds of black pepper. Combine the egg and milk in a small bowl. Dip the chicken into the milk mixture and then coat it well with the bread crumbs mixture, either in a bowl or by tossing it inside the bag.
Place the coated chicken pieces on the cooling rack and put the cookie sheet into the oven. Depending on your oven and the size and thickness of the chicken, the pieces will take 15 to 20 minutes until firm and cooked through. Spritz the chicken lightly with cooking spray and then place the cookie sheet under the broiler for 1 to 2 minutes, until browned, if desired.
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