Kitchen School by the Ages
Homemade chicken nuggets offer a bonus lesson for future chefs—food that have been industrialized, like nuggets, still taste far better if you make them yourself (a point you wont even have to make aloud once your kids taste these). And there's another subtle lesson in the home made nugget: making them is work. No one who had to make their own chicken nuggets and French fries ever got fat off of chicken nuggets and French fries (especially if they also raised the chickens and grew the potatoes). There are no bad foods, but there are bad ways to eat them.
Lesson 1: No wimps in the kitchen. If you like chicken nuggets, my friend, then you will help to handle the squishy chicken meat, and dip your fingers into the egg, and get messy in the flour. Two of my kids loves this, two need a towel nearby to endure it, but they all love the results. I add into this a lesson in where meat comes from and one in food safety—no licking your fingers!
Lesson 2: The set up. Each nugget goes through a process: flour, egg, breading. The flour sticks to the nugget, the egg sticks to the flour, the breading sticks to the egg. Skip any step, and you will have a naked nugget. A nice thing about this project is that the child can practice breaking the eggs (it's easy to pick any bits of shell out) and, if you use the cornflakes, smash them up in a freezer bag.
Lesson 3: The assembly line. What's easier—putting all the chicken into each step at once, or bringing the chicken pieces through one at a time? What do you think McDonald's does? Like Family Chef blogger Naomi Shulman, I chose to pan-fry these rather than bake them, so our assembly line ends with prepped nuggets sitting on a cooling rack (the breading sticks better if it dries on anyway). I put a splatter cover over the pan, and added another lesson in hot, splattery stoves to stay away from. If I'm feeling ambitious, I might talk about how the hot oil cooks the breading and makes it crunchy and brown. Or I might just tell them to go set the table.
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