Chicken Nuggets with Peri Peri Dip
FEATURING MONJAY MEZZA’S PERI PERI DIP
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Chicken nuggets. They must be the quintessential kids’ meal. Of course, they fall under that category so that we can hide our own secret love affair with them. As adults, we’re not supposed to like chicken nuggets; we’re supposed to like on-trend dishes such as cacio e pepe and then dissect their flavour profile with hyphenates like ‘mid-palate’. That’s why chicken nuggets are tucked into the corners of restaurant menus under the heading ‘Kids’ Meals’, where we glance at them with suppressed bitterness and jealousy.
But this is what makes chicken nuggets so good. They appeal to the whole family, from the littlest to the biggest. And why not? Succulent pieces of chicken tenderloin, coated in a crunchy jacket, dipped in Monjay’s Peri Peri Dip, or Feta & Olive Dip, or Hummus with Roasted Capsicum & Jalapeno… Seriously, the combinations are limited only by your imagination.
And chicken nuggets have a secret weapon. Buried underneath the crispy crumb coating is a thin layer of flour, in which secret ingredients can be hidden that might otherwise be strenuously objected to by small kids and big kids alike. Finely chopped herbs, like rosemary or tarragon, spices such as cumin or caraway, can all be smuggled in, hidden underneath a crunchy coating of breadcrumbs.
- 700g chicken tenderloins
- ½ cup plain flour
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs (or breadcrumbs from stale bread)
- 1 tbsp finely chopped tarragon
- 2 tbsp parmesan, grated
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 20 grams butter
- Monjay’s Peri Peri Dip
How to Prepare
Warm the oven to 100 degrees.
Place three bowls on the kitchen bench. Crack two eggs into one of them and whisk to combine. Place the flour in the second bowl and the breadcrumbs in the third. While the kids aren’t looking, surreptitiously add the tarragon to the flour and mix together. Add the parmesan to the breadcrumbs and mix. Season both the flour and the breadcrumbs.
Slice the tenderloins into nugget-sized pieces, then dredge each piece first in the flour (shaking off any excess), then the egg, and finally in the breadcrumbs. Press the breadcrumbs lightly with your fingers into the chicken so the coating sticks.
Bring a wide frying pan to heat over a medium-high flame. Add the oil and the butter (the butter helps the crumbs brown nicely and the oil prevents the butter from burning) and, when hot, fry the nuggets for two to three minutes on each side. If you need to do it in two batches, that’s preferable to crowding the pan, which can drop the temperature too far and cause the crumbs to soak up the oil before they start frying, making them soggy.
Keep the cooked nuggets on a baking-paper lined tray in the oven while you finish the rest. Serve with our Peri Peri Dip flavour-punch and watch them disappear.
Note: This dish can easily be made gluten free. Simply substitute the flour for a gluten free version, and the same for the breadcrumbs. The lack of gluten in gluten free bread actually makes it more crumbly, which in this case is a benefit.
Side Ideas: Great with grilled corn. Simmer corn cobs for ten minutes or so, then finish off on a hot grill. Top with butter, a squeeze of lime and a grating of cotija cheese. Or, try a cauliflower bake, with cream and mustard and topped with a handful of cheddar cheese.
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