"No matter how terrified you may be, own your fear and take that leap anyway because whether you land on your feet or on your butt, the journey is well worth it."
-- Laurie Laliberte
"If your dreams do not scare you, they are not big enough."
-- Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage."
-- Anais Nin

Sunday, August 28, 2011

How to Terrorize Your Neighbor's Pets* (recipe)

This one's dedicated to my two-year-old niece. Just like her Auntie, if she had to live on only one main dish for the rest of her life, it would probably be chicken nuggets. Give either of us chicken nuggets or tenders and a garden salad and you'd think we'd found Salvation. But more important is her reaction to them. As I have mentioned several times here and on twitter, we live in a suburb of Boston which is the last place I ever imagined I'd have neighbors who owned chickens. Yep, you read it right, chickens. A rooster and a hen. Chickens. I'm still trying to absorb it.

Anyhow, my niece and her two older brothers are kind of fascinated by our feathered neighbors, but their mom is not so happy about living next to a fairly noisy bird. (In his defense, the rooster is old and has lost most of his voice, so he's not really that loud.) One evening, as the sun was setting, and the rooster was doing his thing, Mom jokingly called out, "chicken nuggets." Soon it was a game. Every time the rooster crowed, one or more of us would holler the name of a different chicken dish. (Tell me that rooster isn't at least a little afraid of the crazy neighbors.) While everyone else eventually tired of the game, my niece kept on. Still, every time she hears the rooster, she shouts, "CHICKEN NUGGETS!" as loud as her little lungs will let her. It's like this bizarre Pavlovian reaction that has also rubbed off on me because even when my niece isn't around, if I hear the rooster, I automatically begin to laugh.

asian style chicken nuggets, candied carrots, and mashed potatoes
This recipe was a total experiment. My intent was to make a grilled chicken teriyaki, but we'd run out of soy sauce and I was too lazy to walk the 300 yards (if that) to the corner store. So I improvised and came up with this. Enjoy it.


1-1 1/2 lbs chicken rinsed (but not dried) and cut into 2-bite pieces
3/4 c plain bread crumbs
1 Tbsp garlic powder
1 tsp ground ginger (if you want to turn up the heat, add more ginger)
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Dump bread crumbs and spices into a gallon size zip-top bag. Seal and shake until completely blended.
Drop in chicken pieces. Seal bag again and get one of the kids to shake it until the chicken is completely coated with the mixture.
Spread the chicken in a single layer on a large cookie sheet that's been sprayed with cooking spray or very lightly oiled.
Bake at 375 for about 20-25 minutes until they're cooked through. Turn them once after about 15 minutes.
Serve with honey mustard for dipping.

The usual notes:

Yes, you can use the breading in the traditional 3-step method: dredge with flour (season with a bit of garlic powder and ground ginger first), dip in egg wash, then cover in breading. This is just my quicker, easier, lower fat method.
No, they don't have to be nuggets. Feel free to do tenders, cutlets, or full breasts, just make sure to adjust your cooking time accordingly.
Rinsing does nothing for the chicken, but the bit of water left behind helps the bread crumbs to stick.
My favorite side dish with these is candied carrots, so stay tuned for that recipe.

What to do with the leftovers:

See, that's a tough one. We rarely have leftovers when we cook chicken nuggets, but I love the idea of these either warm or cold on a bed of lettuce with a few sliced almonds, mandarin oranges, and honey mustard dressing and maybe even some chow mein noodles.

*No pets were physically harmed in the making of this recipe, but I can't guarantee they weren't emotionally scarred.


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