Why do little kids love chicken nuggets? I wondered this yesterday as I trimmed the chicken that I had purchased on sale in order to get it into the freezer.
Each chicken breast had the tenderloin attached and as I cut it off to bag for freezing, I thought about Chicken Tenders. They are so yummy, small enough for a light lunch, and they remind me of Chicken Little. I like that fable and think that if my kids were still small, I would serve them Chicken Tenders and tell them the story of Chicken Little. I think they would've liked that.
So instead of freezing them, I let them soak awhile in buttermilk and egg. (You could also add squeeze of Dijon or BBQ sauce.) The buttermilk does a beautiful job of tenderizing the meat.
Then, I breaded them with Panko, Japanese bread crumbs. You could just as easily use flour, bread crumbs, or oatmeal.
I used my cast-iron skillet because it gives such a wonderful brown color to the finished product. (This photo was taken when they were first placed in the skillet! NO BROWN yet!)
I bagged the tenders and Aly, my little one (umm … she is 14, nearly 15!) has been taking them for lunches this week. Ben is happy with deli salami, but Aly likes 'fresh' food.
What kid wouldn't eat what is on that plate! YUM!
… And then ask for grapes, apples, … or brownies!
For kids with wheat intolerances, or for those not wishing to use 'wheat': GRILL the tenderloins with no breading, but with a bit of salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder and perhaps lemon juice. Fresh, of course! I would top those with BBQ sauce or ketchup, depending on the child's age and preference. (What a wonderful option for kids allergic to wheat and dairy!)
- BAKE, rather than grill, the tenderloins with all of the above options.
- DON'T buy pre-frozen chicken nuggets or tenderloins! I implore you to resist the 5-minute convenience. The little nutritional value they have is not worth the 5-minutes or the money spent.
- You don't have to use only tenderloins. Buy chicken breasts when they are on sale, cut them across the grain into strips, and 'sell' them to your family as tenderloins. :)
- Bake/Grill ahead. If you see your week as supremely busy, spend a small bit of time on the weekend preparing chicken or other meals this way. In the event that you are faced with a late sports practice or dance rehearsal, you can reassure your kids that there is yummy food at home waiting for them. They don't have to settle for preservatives, colors, extra fat, and additives in their foods.
Depending on the version of the original fairy tale of Chicken Little, the moral changes. In the "happy ending" version, the moral is not to be a "chicken"—scared—but to have courage. In other versions, the moral is usually interpreted to mean "do not believe everything you are told".
In this instance, I prefer the "happy ending" and I encourage moms everywhere … do NOT be chicken. Be courageous and buy up the chicken and cook it … your kids will love it in all its forms. Simply feed your family well, as locally as possible, and as purely as possible.