Last week one of my besties alerted me to paleo Chick-fil-A chicken nuggets. I promptly made them that evening. And then again on the weekend. Many thanks to The Domestic Man for his recipe.
There is nothing like popping a grain free, paleo chicken nugget into your mouth. One after the other. After the other…
When I made them the second time I made a few adjustments. One including bacon fat (and all the paleo people said, Amen!).
Paleo Chicken Nuggets
First things first, word on the foodie street is that Chick-fil-A nuggets are marinated in pickle juice. I had no idea. But it’s sheer brilliance. Keeps the chicken juicy AND finally…a use for that pickle juice.
To start, cube up two pounds of chicken breasts. Throw them into a large plastic bag and add 1/2 cup pickle juice. Seal and let marinate in the refrigerator for 1-3 hours.
Take them out of the refrigerator and pour out the excess pickle juice (they do not have to be perfectly drained).
In a separate bowl, whisk together one egg and and 2 tablespoons of heavy cream.
Add the mixture to the bag. Shake it to coat the chicken and let it sit for five minutes.
While it is sitting, prep the spices. Mix together 1 tablespoon paprika, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon garlic pepper. We also added 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper to kick it up a notch. I could not taste a real difference so next time I will add 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (but it is optional).
Then add 1/4 cup tapioca starch or 1/4 cup arrowroot to the spices. This is what makes these paleo. No flour :)
Mix well. Set aside.
Open the bag and pour out any remaining juice (no need to thoroughly drain).
Add the spice mixture to the bag. We want these nuggets coated with this spice mixture so spend a few minutes shaking and massaging the bag. Don’t be hasty. You’ve come too far to cut corners now!
Heat a fry pan or a heavy bottom cast iron pan on medium high heat. Add 3 tablespoons coconut oil and 2 tablespoons reserved bacon fat. Oh yes. This bacon fat is going to add a nice flavor :) And we all know you need to use up that bacon fat sitting in your refrigerator!!
While you are waiting for the oil to heat, prep your station. Have a plate with paper towels on it near you and a baking sheet covered in aluminum foil. Preheat your oven to 170 degrees.
Once the oil is hot (if you slightly tip the pan you should see small ripples/waves form, then you will know the oil is heated) then you can add your first batch of nuggets. It took me about 4 batches to get all these nuggets cooked.
Also, frying results in oil splattering. Be careful. If you have a splatter guard, use it! If not, just be careful as you add each little nugget.
Fry for about two minutes per side. It should be a golden brown color.
After each side is golden brown remove to the plate with paper towels to drain excess oil. Add your next batch of nuggets to the pan.
While those are frying add the nuggets that are on the paper towel to the baking sheet and pop them in the oven to keep them warm.
Four to five batches later – and possibly a few missing nuggets :) We have yummy, crunchy, juicy PALEO chicken nuggets. We served them with our sweet potato fries. And a pickle spear, what else?
BUT, what do we dip them in? The best homemade honey mustard dressing I have ever tried. Seriously, this recipe comes from none other than Alton Brown. I listed it below.
If I had little ones I would be making these like it was my job (actually, if I understand correctly, it would be my job to feed my children!) because they are delicious and a healthy alternative to fried chicken nuggets. And plus, they would probably tell everyone in the world what an awesome mother I am. Or something like that… :)
- 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- ½ cup pickle juice
- 1 egg
- 2 tbs heavy cream
- ¼ cup tapioca starch (or arrowroot)
- 1 tbs paprika
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- ¼-1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
- 3 tbs coconut oil
- 2 tbs bacon fat*
- *if you do not have bacon fat, use ¼ cup coconut oil
- Cube up the chicken.
- Place it into a plastic bag and add the pickle juice; marinate in the fridge for 1-3 hours.
- After marinating, open the bag and pour out any excess pickle juice.
- In a separate bowl mix together the egg and the heavy cream and add the mixture to the bag. Let sit for five minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a separate bowl mix together all the dry ingredients.
- Again, open the bag and pour out the excess liquid. No need to fully drain, just discard any extra liquid.
- Add the dry ingredients to the bag. Seal the bag and shake, massage, move around the nuggets to coat each one in the spice mixture.
- Heat your fry pan and add the oil and fat.
- Fry your chicken pieces in batches. About two minutes per side until golden brown.
- Remove each batch to a paper towel to remove excess oil and then place on a baking sheet in the oven set at 170 degrees to keep them warm.
- 5 tablespoons medium body honey
- 3 tablespoons smooth Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar (or apple cider vinegar)
- Combine all ingredients in a bowl and whisk until smooth.