November 13th was National Chicken Nuggets Day, and we tried a new recipe (below and photo #1) to celebrate.
Almost everyone knows that a chicken nugget is a bite-sized piece of chicken, coated in batter and then deep fried (although the recipe here uses baked nuggets, for ease of prep and fewer calories).
In the world of chicken nuggets, better nuggets are made by cutting up chicken breasts. Cheaper versions are made from ground chicken or a meat slurry*. If you care, check the ingredients.
And check out who invented chicken nuggets, in the history below. (Hint: It wasn’t McDonald’s.)
Today’s recipe idea is for Chicken Nuggets Buffalo Wing Style (photo #1).
Buffalo Wings are fried chicken wings served with hot sauce, a blue cheese and celery. Here’s the story of their impromptu creation.
Buffalo Wings have their own national holiday, on July 29th.
But on to the fusion of Buffalo Wings and chicken nuggets: Buffalo Nuggets.
For this recipe, you can make chicken nuggets from scratch or buy them frozen.
You can also buy takeout nuggets from a fast-food restaurant or deli, but that will cost you more.
The great thing about this recipe is that you can buy all the ingredients and just assemble.
The recipe uses blue cheese dressing, which is the prevailing way to serve Buffalo wings. Originally, a hunk of blue cheese was served.
On the sandwich version (photo #3), we used a commercial blue cheese dressing, but crumbled some Bayley Hazen Blue on top of the dressing. We really enjoyed the added piquancy of the crumbles.
We always have some great blue cheese in the fridge. We created a hero sandwich with Bayley Hazen Blue from Jasper Hill Farm.
1. PREPARE the nuggets according to the recipe or package instructions.
2. PLATE with the blue cheese dressing and celery sticks.
The chicken nugget was invented in the 1950s by Robert C. Baker, a food science professor at Cornell University. He created more than 40 poultry, turkey and cold cut innovations.
In the 1950s he created chicken pieces that were breaded or battered, then deep-fried. It was called the “Chicken Crispie” by Baker and his associate.
Two problems facing the meat industry at the time were the ability to clump ground meat without a skin, and produce a batter coating that could be both deep fried and frozen without becoming detached.
Baker’s innovations solved these problems and made it possible to form chicken nuggets in any shape by:
Who Created Chicken McNuggets?
The product that became Chicken McNuggets was conceived by Keystone Foods, a supplier to McDonald’s, in the late 1970s (the company was acquired by Tyson in 2018).
In 1981, McDonald’s launched Chicken McNuggets in select markets. They were in McDonald’s worldwide by 1983.
Why the delay?
McNuggets were so well-received that every franchise wanted them, and there wasn’t a system to supply enough chicken [source].
Following suit, other chains introduced chicken nuggets, as did frozen food manufacturers and restaurants.
Here are the ingredients. The Chicken McNuggets formula was changed in 2016 to remove artificial preservatives and improve the nutritional value†.
Following food trends, different manufacturers created vegan nuggets for foodservice and grocers.
Some fast food restaurants have launched vegan alternatives. McDonald’s is testing vegan McNuggets in Europe. They’re made from chickpeas, carrots, potatoes, cauliflower, corn, and onion, and are coated in a crunchy breading [source].
Modern chefs, who grew up loving McNuggets, have created their own creative, fusion and gourmet versions, from pretzel-coated chicken nuggets to Korean chicken nuggets to zucchini and parmesan-crusted chicken nuggets.
Have fun with your nuggets. As we celebrated Chicken Nuggets Day, we also served them on skewers with cherry tomatoes and celery chunks—and blue cheese dip, of course!
*A meat slurry is reconstituted chicken meat designed for chicken nuggets, dog food, and other industrial uses. Here’s more about it. A study published in the American Journal of Medicine analyzed the composition of chicken nuggets from two American fast food chains. It found that less than half of the material was skeletal muscle (i.e., chicken flesh), with fat occurring in an equal or greater proportion.
†As of August 1, 2016, the ingredients within the U.S. are as follows: White boneless chicken, water, salt, seasoning (yeast extract, salt, wheat starch, natural flavoring, safflower oil, lemon juice solids, dextrose, citric acid), sodium phosphates. Battered and breaded with water, enriched flour (bleached wheat flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), yellow corn flour, bleached wheat flour, salt, leavening (baking soda, sodium acid pyrophosphate, sodium aluminum phosphate, monocalcium phosphate, calcium lactate), spices, wheat starch, dextrose, corn starch. Prepared in vegetable oil (canola oil, corn oil, soybean oil, hydrogenated soybean oil) with citric acid as a preservative [source].