Apparently this blog is turning into a cooking show.
Back in my day of frequenting McDonald's, one of my all time favorite things to get was a double cheeseburger, which I would top with some fries, a four piece nugget and tons of sweet 'n sour sauce. Those days of eating like that, fast food in particular, are behind me.
Don't get me wrong, I like fast food. However, for me, it's more so a snob thing at this point. At my age, my pallet should be more refined than a greasy bag. Plus, I just prefer to make things from home with my God given cooking skills.
Lunch today was a simple one. I wanted some chicken nuggets. Well, more so, I wanted some McDonald's style sweet 'n sour sauce. In hindsight, I suppose I could have just made some fries in the oven and called it a day, but hey, that's not homemade.
Making McDonald's sweet 'n sour sauce is by no means complicated. Or better stated, making a copycat recipe of it that will do as a flavorful substituent is by no means complicated. The particular recipe I use has been floating around the internet for so long that I have no clue where it originated. This is made all the more difficult by the various websites out there who all claim, "MY" recipe. Bottom line, I lay no claim to this recipe. I only utilize it because it works.
1/4 Cup Apricot Preserves
1/4 Cup Peach Preserves
2 Tablespoons Light Corn Syrup
5 Teaspoons White Vinegar
1 1/2 Teaspoons Corn Starch
1/2 Teaspoons Soy Sauce
1/2 Teaspoon Yellow Mustard
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
1/8 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
2 Tablespoons Water
Taking all but the water, put the remaining ingredients in a food processor and let it spin for two to four minutes, getting liquefied. Put the two tablespoons of water into a saucepan or pot large enough to hold all the liquids and pour the food processor mixture in as well.
Whisk over medium heat, letting it come to a boil. As it starts boiling, whisk less frequently, allowing the sauce to thicken to your desired consistency. For me, it's when you dip a spoon in, and it runs off, but coats the spoon.
Allow the sauce to cool, and transfer it to a container for the fridge. Again, I like to use washable condiment bottles that I found at the grocery store.
As a disclaimer, eating this warm is delicious, but if you do, you won't think it tastes like McDonald's sauce. It's when it's cooled down that it does. Cold is okay, but room temp is where it really comes through. However, you do need to store this in a fridge. Speaking of which, let it sit for at least an hour in the fridge before serving to let all the flavors incorporate.
This also makes a pretty good sauce for sweet and sour chicken / pork and assorted Chinese fried appetizers - wontons, spring rolls, crab rangoon, etc. Maybe next time I'll make some homemade Chinese dishes with some spicy hot mustard.
Anyway, on to the nuggets.
Good nuggets start with good breading, which is so simple to make. It starts with flavorful bread, and a food processor.
I had a sesame seed bun left over from my Big Mac making, so I'm not going to let that go to waste. You don't honestly need a lot of bread to make a lot of bread crumbs, so if you're following this and use a hamburger roll, one should be sufficient. Otherwise, you can use slices of bread, a hot dog bun, french bread, etc. Whatever you like.
One thing to keep in mind is that I was being frugal, not wanting to waste bread in my preparation stage. This turned out to be a bad thing for me which I regretted when I goofed up. Bottom line, make sufficient crumbs the first time, or have a canister of them on hand as backup. Or just use canned breadcrumbs if you don't want the hassle.
Grind that up in your food processor, and let it hang out on a baking sheet for an hour or two, sitting out in the open. You essentially want the air to suck out some of that moisture. You can even let it sit out overnight if you want.
Depending on how long you let them sit out, and your own personal preference, this next step is optional. After two hours, I like to pop my crumbs into a three hundred fifty degree oven, and give them a bit of a toasting. This removes all the remaining moisture, as well as gives them a nice toasted flavor.
I thought I took a photo of the toasted crumbs, but I guess not. Anyway, let them go for a few minutes in the oven, getting to your desired toasted level. If you let the crumbs sit out overnight, they should be plenty dry, and toasting them at this point would only be for the flavor.
Next up is the actual chicken of a chicken nugget. I hate ground chicken. I certainly am not a fan of deconstructed and pasted back together pink blends either. For me, I like real chicken.
Ultimately, you want two chicken breasts, but you can take a shortcut, and get those cut chunked chicken breast packages, which is what I did. Same thing, just pre-cubed. Otherwise, slice your chicken breast into squares.
Using a meat tenderizer, smash those bad boys down to about a quarter inch thick. Be gentle though. The goal here is flattened, not mangled.
have some choices for how to cook these, and now is the time to make that decision. Sure, you could fry these up
to a golden brown, and they would be rather delicious. Or, if you're
like me, and you're trying to enjoy a treat while not breaking the
calorie bank, you can opt to bake them. If you're frying them, start heating up your oil in a pan or deep fryer. If baking, heat your oven to four hundred twenty-five degrees.
In a large seal-able bag, combine the following:
2/3 Cup Flour
1/2 Tablespoon Salt
1/2 Tablespoon Pepper
1/2 Tablespoon Paprika
1/2 Tablespoon Onion Powder
Seal the bag, and shake it like a child you hate to incorporate it all together. Get you this nice ca-caine looking mixture right here for initially coating your chicken pieces.
Which you'll want to do by adding a few pieces of chicken to the bag at a time and giving it vigorous shake. You don't want to add all of your chicken at once because you could end up with a sticky mess of unevenly coated pieces. When you have all of the pieces coated, but still in the bag, grab yourself a colander and a large trash can.
Carefully dump the bag into the colander over the trash can, gently shaking the colander to remove as much excess flour as possible.
Not wasting that initial bag you used, shake this out too over the trash can, and put it aside for your next step.
In a bowl, I used the same one my chicken pieces were in to save on dishes, whisk the following ingredients together:
2 Eggs (large or extra large)
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
1/4 Teaspoon Pepper
1/4 Teaspoon Paprika
1/4 Teaspoon Onion Poweder
Yes, it's essentially the same ingredients as what you used before. However, now is also the time to kick up the flavor a bit. If you like your chicken nuggets spicy, ad 1/4 (or more) teaspoons of cayenne pepper and / or a tablespoon of your favorite hot sauce. Your hotness is your preference.
Put the chicken pieces back into the bag you floured them in, and as quickly as possible, dump the egg mixture on top, seal it, and get to shaking again. You want to ensure that every piece gets coated, and becomes somewhat sticky across every inch.
Dump this into your colander when done to let any excess egg drip off. However, there shouldn't be much, if any.
Now you're going to need a new bag, which you're going to pour your breadcrumbs into. DON'T USE THE OLD BAG. Also, remember that thing I mentioned above about turning into a sticky mess if you throw all the chicken in at once? Yeah, don't do that either...Like I did for some reason. You will suck up all your breadcrumbs fast, and not everything will get coated.
This is also why I said above that having extra is a great plan, because I ended up having to make more. I had no canister of crumbs, nor anymore bread, and had to throw together a quickly grinded up bag of Ritz crackers. DOH!
To do it correctly, toss one or two pieces of chicken into the bag, give it a light shake to coat everything, and repeat until all the chicken is evenly coated. Just leave it all in the bag until you're done shaking it up.
If frying, throw them in the oil, and let them go on their own for five to six minutes on each side, keeping your oil around three hundred fifty degrees. If you're baking them, place a piece of parchment paper down on a baking sheet and spray it evenly with cooking spray. Then play your chicken on the pan and spray the top.
Bake these for eight minutes, and flip them over, baking for an additional eight minutes.
Plate them up, sauce them up, and get to eating!
In hindsight, I don't hate that half and half mixture of breadcrumbs and Ritz crumbs. That's a pretty good combo. Maybe try that too.
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