Read The Laughing Chef's bio and previous columns


October 15, 2007

Beware, Silverware! It’s Chicken Nugget Time


Here we will lay out a proposition – size does indeed matter, but not in the way that the question is typically laid out. Your ultimate purpose will go a long way to determining what size you wish your food to be.

Hold up your average boneless chicken breast. It is a versatile piece of meat, made all the more so because it is bland enough by itself that it always benefits from extra flavoring. 

Fried, you can expect it to lay on a plate, covered in gravy and next to a small pile of corn and perhaps some mashed potatoes. But what if the goal is not a rib-sticking meal, but something that you graze while foregoing the need for silverware? It is supposed that the need for silverware is an artificial construct, but until society plunges into chaos, it will be widely seen as more desirable to use fork and knife to eat something big than your hands.


It was a revelation that shook the earth that answered this question, and it comes in the form of a simple nugget. That is, the alternative to knife, fork and full breast of chicken is to simply make smaller the breast and multiply its numbers.


The road to nuggetizing a chicken breast is widely traveled for other foods. It starts with a knife, and cutting the breast into bite-sized pieces. Here, where you might otherwise be expected to sautι it in olive oil, you instead place it in buttermilk for a few moments.


While it soaks, fill a large bowl with flour, and generous season that with ground black pepper, cayenne pepper, garlic powder and perhaps some white salt.


Continue to soak the chicken while you prepare the skillet for frying. Baking might be healthier, but the results are not the same.


While you heat the oil, drop the nuggets into the flour mix and roll around until they are dry to the touch. The oil will be ready for them when it spits and spatters when a drop of water is applied to it. This is a sign that the oil has been angried to where it can properly do the job.


Once this has done, drop the nuggets into the oil and cook them for several minutes. Battle temptation to twist and turn the nuggets, or you might damage the nugget. After a short time, a shell will form and will appear to pulse and shape in the hot oil. It is metamorphosis in action. Allow your mind to be expanded by this.


The shell will harden, and this will be a sure sign that the time has come to turn it over. Once both sides are golden browned and hardened, you have arrived at the moment when the nuggets should be removed from the oil. Do so, and place on a paper towel on a plate so that the remaining grease can drain off. Wait for 15 seconds and then point at your silverware drawer and have a hearty chuckle.


© 2007 North Star Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.


Click here to talk to our writers and editors about this column and others in our discussion forum.


To e-mail feedback about this column, click here. If you enjoy this writer's work, please contact your local newspapers editors and ask them to carry it.

This is Column #TLC054. Request permission to publish here.

Op-Ed Writers
Eric Baerren
Lucia de Vernai
Herman Cain
Dan Calabrese
Alan Hurwitz
Paul Ibrahim
David Karki
Llewellyn King
Gregory D. Lee
David B. Livingstone
Nathaniel Shockey
Stephen Silver
Candace Talmadge
Jamie Weinstein
Feature Writers
Mike Ball
Bob Batz
David J. Pollay
Eats & Entertainment
The Laughing Chef