Happy Hour Chicken Nuggets | When I was kid in North Andover, Massachusetts, I used to eat chicken nuggets everyday for breakfast. And I mean everyday. It was the true breakfast of champions. Or it was just plain weird and I have no idea why my parents let me do it. I used to go through one of those giant frozen bags and a bottle of BBQ sauce by sunset, only to rise again the next day to depopulate the chicken world. I’ve since changed my breakfast menu (in case you were wondering), but that doesn’t mean I still don’t get nostalgic about my nuggets. And when I do, we go all out in my kitchen.
This is our grown up recipe that we call our “happy hour” chicken nuggets, since we batter them in beer, double dip them in seasoned flour and saltines, and then get tipsy on sheer joy. It’s time you join in the fun too.
* This recipe will easily make you 30+ nuggets.
- Vegetable Oil - 6 cups
- Chicken Breasts - 2 (about 1¼ pounds), skinless
- Imperial Beer - 8 ounces (or use other pale lager)
- Eggs - 2
- All-Purpose Flour - 2 cups
- Baking Powder - 1 teaspoon, double-acting
- Saltine Crackers - 10 (about ⅓ cup), roughly crushed
- Hoisin Sauce - 1 tablespoon
- Agave Nectar - 1 tablespoon
- Sriracha - 1 tablespoon
- Oregano - 3 sprigs, optional
- Smoked Paprika - ¼ teaspoon
- Ancho Chili Powder - ¼ teaspoon
- Mustard Powder - ¼ teaspoon
- Sumac - ¼ teaspoon
- Salt - 1 teaspoon
- Lime - 1, garnish
- ATX BBQ Sauce - 1 recipe, optional
- Boiled Palapa Mayo - 1 recipe, optional
- If using, make the Boiled Palapa Mayo and ATX BBQ Sauce (make them a day ahead).
- Ok, let's turn our attention to our beer batter. So grab a big bowl and stir together 1 cup of flour, the baking powder and a pinch of salt.
- In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, hoisin, agave and sriracha. Then, while whisking, pour in a cup of the beer. Drink the rest. This is the beer we use,
- Now we're going to whisk the wet into the dry. So, while whisking again, pour the beer mixture into the flour, and stir it all well until it looks like this (the texture should be wet - just thick enough to where your whisk starts to stick to the bottom of the bowl),
- Toss in the oregano sprigs, cover the bowl with tin foil, and toss it in the fridge for at least 1 hour to marinate and thicken a bit.
- Ok, time to turn our attention to the rest of our breading station. We're gonna have 3 stops on this train! First stop is the seasoned flour stop. Put it together by adding ½ cup of flour to another bowl.
- Then stir in the smoked paprika, ancho, mustard powder and sumac. Set it aside. First in line.
- After an hour, take out the beer batter. Trash the oregano stems. That's the second stop.
- The third stop is the saltine stop. Go ahead and mash up the saltines with the palms of your hands while they're still in their packages (that way it won't make a mess).
- Dump the crushed saltines into the last bowl, along with the last ½ cup of flour and a ½ teaspoon of salt. Mix it all together.
- Now onto the chicken! First step is to slice the breasts in half lengthwise, into 2 even pieces.
- Then cut each breast half into strips about ¾" wide.
- Then cut them into nuggets about 1" long. For two breasts you should get at least 30 nuggets.
- Pat the nuggets dry with a paper towel and make sure your breading station is ready to go.
- Pour the oil into the dutch oven over medium-high heat until it gets up to 360 degrees on your thermometer (if you don't have a thermometer, get one to call yourself a cook).
- When your oil is just about there, grab a nugget and drop it into the first bowl of seasoned flour and shake off any excess.
- Then drop it into the beer batter and let the excess drip off too.
- Now let's double dip this guy back in flour, so toss it into bowl number three with the floured saltines and coat it completely.
- When the oil reaches 360, lower the heat to medium, take a couple of nuggets and gently place them in the oil. Fry them in batches - about 5 to 6 at a time - for 2 minutes 45 seconds until they are dark golden brown. Flip them with your spider once or twice so they don't burn.
- Then pick them out with the spider and let them drain on a paper towel. Cut one in half to make sure they're juicy and delish!
- Grab that microplane and zest the lime over the fried nuggets while they're hot and also sprinkle on a big pinch of salt.
* If you have a scale, each raw nugget should weigh 0.4 ounces, which is about ¾″ x 1″ x ½″ tall.
* We don't add salt to the 1st stop (the innermost layer) of our breading station, because we don't want it to prevent our batter from sticking!
* To get the perfect batter, the #1 thing to remember is to not crowd the nuggets when they're frying. Small batches will yield big results.
* These guys should only take 2:45 to fry, assuming your chicken is at room temperature. Add some time if you take them directly out of the fridge.
* Don't worry about the beer! These are completely kid friendly and they are a huge hit with the munchkins.