Picture this: it’s the weekend and you’re starving. You don’t feel like cooking and you want some “bad” food. It’s been weeks since you’ve craved fast food or anything truly “bad”. You’ve been so good with the clean eating and you deserve this meal. You run through the options of lettuce-wrapped burgers, sushi, Chipotle, Chinese food, pizza… then, you remember the not-too-guilt-inducing and always delicious option of Chik-Fil-A. Their fried chicken nuggets are obviously awesome, but, they even make some seriously nomtastic grilled chicken breast. That deserves an award in itself!
The only problem is it’s Sunday. GODDAMNIT. Every FREAKING time. Why, God, why?! (no pun intended. even though, technically, God IS the reason they’re closed…) While the Chik-Fil-A corporation is spending their Sunday in prayer, I’m cursing their spiritual game with every foul word in the book all because I can’t get nuggets. (I see this as completely reasonable. Yes, something is wrong with me. I should probably go to church.) Your plans of a cheat meal may be foiled, but, never fear… because real deal, Paleo Chick-Fil-A nuggets are here! There’s even homemade paleo ketchup and homemade paleo bbq sauce to go along with it! And, when I say real deal, I mean real deal… I found out the secret to Chick-fil-A nuggets was brining in a certain type of pickle juice and it really is THE secret.
I was actually quite shocked at how simple, yet, true-to-taste these bad boys tasted. I used the breading from my Italian Lemon Fried Chicken recipe, but, anyone who eats Chik-Fil-A knows you simply cannot replicate their nuggets/patties without their famous sweet & savory breading. I played around with doing a honey-pickle juice brine, but, couldn’t defile my glorious pickle juice in such a foul manner. Plus, I imagine pickle juice & honey tastes pretty effing gross. It had to be a dry sweetener similar to cane sugar and it had to seamlessly blend into the flour like confectioner’s sugar would. That’s where my trusty mortar and pestle came in. I decided to add pulverized coconut sugar to the “breading” mixture and while I knew it would taste somewhat close to the real thing, I really wasn’t expecting what I ended up with… Nugget Wars: Attack of the Clones aka lil Chik-Fil-A nugget clones. Crispety, crunchety, juicity, salty (saltitty just sounds wrong), justbarelysweet morsels of fried chicken goodness. If you ever assumed you couldn’t get restaurant-quality food at home, sorry to say it, but, you were sadly mistaken!
P.S. If you’re impatient like me and don’t want to wait until you’ve consumed all your Claussen pickles to get to the juice, just leave enough juice in the bottom of the jar to keep the remaining pickles moist. Just be mindful, you WILL need to eat those pickles a lot sooner than you anticipated.
- For the Brine:
- 6 boneless, skinless chicken breast tenderloins, cut into uniform cubes/nuggets (I got 30 nuggets from 6 tenderloins)
- Leftover jar of pickle juice – I recommend Claussen pickles for this. (not 100% clean-paleo but will give you [b]THE best[/b] and most authentic tasting brine.)
- For the Breading:
- 3/4 cup blanched [url href=”http://www.honeyville.com” target=”_blank”]almond flour[/url]
- 1/4 cup tapioca flour OR arrowroot powder
- 1 tbsp coconut sugar – ground in mortar & pestle (You [i]could[/i] use a blender/food processor but would need to put at least 1 cup of sugar in the machine)
- 1-1/4 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
- 1/8 tsp paprika
- Freshly ground black pepper
- For Frying:
- 2 cups olive oil (or oil of choice – avocado, etc.)
- Place raw nuggets in a heavy duty ziploc bag or non-metal bowl. Pour enough pickle juice over top to cover nuggets completely.
- Let nuggets sit in pickle juice brine for 3-6 hours. The outside will change color – that’s okay.
- Once nuggets are brined, thoroughly mix breading ingredients together in a medium bowl & set flour mixture aside, ready to use.
- Heat oil in a heavy bottomed pan between med to med high heat.
- Using your left hand, grab 3-5 pieces of brined chicken and shake the excess pickle juice off – place them into the flour mixture and with your right hand, toss until nuggets are evenly coated.
- Place flour-coated nuggets on a paper towel lined plate and repeat until done.
- Once oil is ready, fry nuggets in batches until both sides are golden brown and no longer pink in the center – about 2-1/2 to 3 mins per side.
- [b]Serve hot with dipping sauces of choice[/b]: [url href=”http://meritandfork.com/paleo-ketchup/” target=”_blank”]Homemade Paleo Ketchup[/url], [url href=”http://meritandfork.com/paleo-bbq-sauce-recipe/” target=”_blank”]Homemade Paleo BBQ Sauce[/url], or homemade honey mustard!