Friday, June 13, 2008

McChick'n Nuggets

I was leafing through a Homemakers magazine today from a few years ago. You can pick up old magazines for dirt cheap at the thrift store and look through the recipe section to see what the non-vegan world is up to. Sometimes it can lead to new ideas and inspiration for vegan dishes. This particular issue did not have any good ideas, but it did have a McDonald's ad that made me snort. The ad shows a young boy, around seven years old, with his face and hands all amess from the BBQ sauce he has been dunking his McNuggets into. The caption reads, "At least what made it in him was all white seasoned chicken breast." Well, that's not all he is getting (and, seriously, I used to eat McNuggets. I find this chicken breast claim dubious). According to McDonald's own website, McNuggets contain "chicken meat, chicken skin, salt, flavour [hydrolyzed plant protein (corn, soy, wheat gluten), disodium inosinate, disodium guanylate]. Coated with: wheat flour, water, toasted wheat crumbs, modified cornstarch, corn starch, yellow corn flour, salt, vegetable oil shortening (soybean), sodium bicarbonate, sodium aluminum phosphate, spices, sodium aluminum silicate (manufacturing aid), modified milk ingredients, wheatstarch. Cooked in 100% vegetable oil (Canola oil, corn oil, soybean oil, hydrogenated soybean oil with THBQ, citric acid and dimethypolysiloxane)." All of this boils down to 310 calories, 19g of fat (29% daily value for an adult!), 45mg of cholesterol, and a whopping 670g of sodium. And let's not forget the fries and the drink. Needless to say, I felt compelled to make chickenless nuggets tonight.

Makes 24 nuggets
- 1 cup vital wheat gluten
- 1 tsp poultry spice
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 cup water
- 2 tbsp olive oil

- 2 cups panko bread crumbs
- 2 tbsp nutritional yeast, crushed between your fingers
- 1/4 tsp tumeric
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp ground flax seed
- 1 1/2 cup soy milk
- 1 tbsp oil
- 1 tsp apple cider vinegar

1. Whisk together flour and spices in a bowl. Whisk together water and oil and a separate bowl and add to flour mixture. Stir and bring into a dough. It's rather hard to knead this dough, so I stretch out the sides and then fold them into the centre. I then press down to mold it back together again. This works the gluten and helps mix everything together.
2. Roll dough out into a long log, about 12-14 inches long. Let rest while you mix together the bread crumbs, nutritional yeast, tumeric, and paprika in one bowl, and the flax seed, soy milk, oil, and vinegar in another.
3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees, line a baking sheet with foil and spray lightly with oil.
4. Slice dough into 24 pieces (about half inch each). Press down a bit to get a nugget shape, dip in soy milk, then lightly roll in bread crumbs. Repeat with all pieces of dough.
5. Re-dip nuggets back in soy milk (let it soak up so you get a thick breading), and roll again in the bread crumbs. Press the nugget into the crumbs to get a nice thick coating and to maintain the nugget shape. Place on baking sheet.
6. Bake for 10 mins, flip, then bake for another 10 mins. Flip again and cook for 4 mins, then flip and cook another 4 mins (this keeps the breading from browning too much).
7. Serve with dipping sauce of you choice. These are a bit chewy when they are piping hot, but firm up nicely when they cool down a bit.

A NOTE ON BREADING: the key to a good breading is to keep one hand wet and the other dry. Use one hand to dip the nuggets and place into the breading. Shake the bowl to coat the nugget in crumbs, then use your dry hand to handle/press the nugget.