Toddlers eat a lot of chicken nuggets.
They were a staple in our meal plan for years. Since we buy our chicken breasts in bulk, we’d always peal off the fillets to freeze separately for homemade chicken nuggets. Plus some of the other chicken would be cut up for nuggets as well.
And on those days when we were grocery shopping close to supper time, we’d sometimes pick up a box of store bought chicken nuggets to eat that night. While not as healthy homemade, we were guaranteed a smoother meal time from a tired, hungry monster known as a toddler.
We have been mourning the loss of our chicken nuggets for months now.
That’s not to say we haven’t tried other options. First, we tried making veggie nuggets. The recipe had too many steps, and with needy girls around, I accidentally skipped a few steps and we ended up eating peanut butter sandwiches that night. We didn’t try again.
Then, we tried lentil nuggets, which integrated cheese, which were a solid option for the adults, but were panned by the children. Apparently, nuggets should not be orange.
We’d tried pork a few times. After finding the pork chop option too chewy, we tried pork cutlet, which seemed passable, but still not quite the right texture. At least the toddler would eat them, but wouldn’t have been the staple we were hoping for.
And then we tried turkey.
I know that should have been an obvious choice, but let’s remember our nuggets were usually made of fillets from a bulk tray of chicken breasts. Turkey breasts are not cheap, and never come in bulk trays. Nuggets should not have to cost a premium price. Then one day, as I was lamenting the fact that bulk chicken was on sale in the flyer, I noticed ground turkey was too.
If McDonalds can make nuggets out of pink sludge, why not make nuggets out of ground turkey?
I nearly cried when I took the first bite and it both tasted and felt “right”.
Yes, it’s a bit dramatic, but let’s face it: we’d gone through a lot to get to this moment. No longer would we have to convince a toddler to try another nugget form (she was a little nugget-shy after the lentil nuggets). No longer would we have to sneak her out to McDonalds to get her nugget fix without her little sister knowing. NO longer would we have to steal my mother’s food processor to take the boiled vegetables and mix with potatoes and hope there was enough starch to solidify the paste. Finally we had an option that was fairly easy, routinely went on sale, and tasted good.
And best of all, the toddler happily ate it.
Now, usually I try to base my experiments off of other recipes, but this I basically just mixed things together at random, so this “recipe” is going to be vague at best.
1 lb ground turkey
2 c bread crumbs
1 tbsp assorted seasoning (I used garlic powder, onion powder, basil, oregano, thyme and a touch of rosemary)
1/4 c butter, melted
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix 1/2-1 c bread crumbs into the turkey meat. Form into “nuggets” (I went into autopilot and ended up making essentially meatballs that I squished flat into small patties). Mix remaining breadcrumbs with seasonings. Dip nuggets into melted butter and then in into breadcrumbs. Press nugget gently to help breadcrumbs stick. When thoroughly coated, place in baking dish. Bake for 15-20 minutes (depending on size of nugget), flipping halfway through.
Nuggets can be frozen before cooking (add about 5 minutes onto bake time when baking from frozen) or afterwards (microwave for about 1/2 minute to heat up), making these the ultimate “long day at work, don’t want to fight with toddler” supper!