Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Baked Panko & Sesame Chicken Nuggets

Call me immature or unhealthy or whatever (just don't say it to my face) but I love me some kid-friendly food. Corn dogs, fast-food cheeseburgers, and chicken nuggets would be my go-to food if I wasn't so concerned about calories and, mostly, what exactly is IN those dang hot dogs! I recently read a few articles that made me shun the fast food world for awhile (and I'm sure they felt my absence) but with some education I've learned what is good and not so good to eat while out.

My biggest concern was, of course, the "pink slime" in ground beef that everyone was talking about. And then I heard the news that stopped my heart for a second or two: chicken nuggets are not good for you. High in salt, fried, and how do they get that chicken in the shape of a crown?

But then I remembered that homemade food is almost always better for you. You control what you put in your food, you control how it's cooked, and you control the portions. I love making homemade chicken nuggets, and I wanted something that was kid-friendly, but something that could please the adult palate too. Panko breading was my answer. This Japanese bread crumb is amazing. It doesn't really have a flavor so it takes on any other flavor that you add to it. The breading stays crispy and light, and I love the texture of it. I paired it with sesame seeds for a nutty flavor and it was so good. I didn't even use a dipping sauce when I ate it, which says a lot, since I am a huge dipper. Go ahead and play with this recipe. Add different spices to see what combo you love best! Parmesan cheese and oregano? Cumin and chili powder? Plain old salt and pepper? The possibilities are endless!

Oh, and by the way, these are awesome the next day cut up in a salad!
Combine your panko, sesame seeds, garlic powder, dried basil, and salt
Dip the chicken pieces in melted butter
Press each piece on both sides into the panko mixture
Serve with your favorite sauce (or none - they are super tasty!)

Baked Panko & Sesame Chicken Nuggets
2 pounds chicken breasts, cut into bite size-ish pieces
1/2 cup melted butter
2 cups panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup sesame seeds (these can be found for cheap in the bulk section)
2-3 tsp garlic powder
2-3 tsp dried basil
1 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 400. Spray a jelly roll pan with cooking spray.

Put melted butter in a small bowl. In a shallow bowl, combine panko bread crumbs, sesame seeds, garlic powder, dried basil, and salt. Dip each piece of chicken in melted butter and then into panko mixture, pressing to adhere it to the chicken.

Place each piece of chicken on your prepared pan. Make sure the pieces don't touch because they won't crisp up. If you need, use two pans. Place the pan in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until the juices run clean. *Optional: put them under the broiler for a few minutes to crisp up the top. Watch them carefully so they don't burn.

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