What kids don’t love chicken nuggets and french fries? I really love being able to offer this modern day staple meal to my kids but just in a healthier way than the bagged frozen versions.
So, let me start out by saying that I am going to walk you through how my family has become accustomed to eating this meal. It may not be realistic for some or seem to be too time consuming or inconvenient but really it’s not. You can totally make this same meal but just tweak a couple of things to suit your lifestyle.
We raise our own chickens every year, which we then butcher ourselves and freeze. When we can, we try to take back control of our actions when it comes to our health and wellness. This is important to me and it should be to you as well. When we raise our own meat, we control and know without a doubt what it is we are then later consuming. Our chickens do get fed chicken feed and have an area that we fence off for them to be and roam.
One theme that you may pick up on when reading through my posts is where we like to use what it is we already have on hand to make things work and in this case we repurposed some chain linked fencing that we setup in an old barn where they are able to be raised safely. Just a side note, we also again repurposed this same fencing for our gardening needs, which you can read in this post here.
Really, when raising chickens for meat purposes you only have about ~7 weeks from when you get them as chicks until butcher time, so needing them to have more of a luxurious environment is really not that necessary. We do however, make sure they have enough room, food, water and when they are young, heat to keep them warm.
Ok, back to that dinner thing. Maybe this seems harsh and somewhat grotesque to some, to go from talk about raising and butchering of chickens to then later a dinner recipe on using and eating that very same meat, but when it comes to farm talk, this is the real deal.
When it comes to dinner, obviously the first step is to know what it is you’re making, but when you have your own meat in surplus in your deep freezer for use, then it becomes that much simpler to gather the needed items for your recipe.
At the time we butcher our chickens, we cut them into breasts, thighs, legs and wings and put them in separated freezer bags. This works out so great for when chicken breast is all that is needed for a recipe such as this, I can just grab this out of the freezer instead of having a whole chicken to deal with, when I really don’t need all of it! So, after the breast thaws, I cut it up into pieces.
Then I batter the chicken pieces with first placing it in some flour then an egg and milk mixture and lastly in whatever type of breading you want to use. I used a combo with some breadcrumbs with some crushed up crackers. Again I like to include my children in the process as I feel it’s not only fun but teaches them about cooking and healthy eating. I really like a panko style breading but didn’t have any on hand, so just used what I did have handy.
For cooking, you could use a frying method or the oven but I like using my air fryer as it gives it that crisp fried texture, but in a healthier for you way, then the deep fried version. I set my air fryer at 375 degrees, set them in there while making sure they don’t overlap, so they can cook evenly, then spray them with cooking spray and let cook for 6 minutes per side. So after the first side for six minutes I then pause it, turn each piece, spray again and cook for another six minutes.
Hey, what about the fries? This time I went with a more wedge style fry but it really depends what you are in the mood for when cutting up the potatoes. Every time I make homestyle fries I change up which type to add some variety, even though the end product really is in all the same thing when it comes down to what you’re putting into your body. I cut the ends and any bad spots off, but leave as much skin on as possible, since thats where a lot of the nutrition is.
When I make a more classic french fry, I just cut them differently, thats all. They even make those handy potato slicers that probably make it easier when cutting em up, but I’ve never gotten into having more gadgets in my kitchen when I can just use my trusty ole’ knife. Next, cut them up, put them in a bowl and mix with about 1 T of canola oil. I don’t tend to measure with any tools either, so I say ‘about’ because I usually pour an amount that seems sufficient for the potatoes I’ve got. I then lay them flat on a baking sheet, season per your taste (I went with a minced garlic and seasoned salt to cover) then put in the oven to bake at 400 degrees for roughly 20 minutes, turn, then another 20 minutes or so then take one out and taste to make sure they are well and cooked. I end this with a nice broil in the oven for another 5 or so minutes to get them to have that nice crispy texture.
Pair this dinner with obviously whatever type of side that suits your fancy but I would not be doing anyone any favors if I did not promote and suggest a green colored veggie. We went with a side salad with some broccoli and carrots. I also want to take another sec here and jump on my soap box and point out a couple of key nutritional points.
I first of all mentioned using canola oil instead of using an olive oil. Here’s why; olive oil, while being a very healthy option, is a monounsaturated fat and contains omega 9-Oleic acid. This type of oil, along with avocado and macadamia nut oils, should not be heated at high temperatures. Their use is great for cold use, finishing meals or after cooking and/or light cooking. Heating oil above its smoke point damages the oil and increases its free radicals, which in turn is bad for our health. Olive oil has a smoke point of 375 degrees.
The kicker here is that canola oil is actually not a great option for our health either. Canola oil is a processed, chemically altered (hydrogenated) fat and while this is good for improving and lengthening shelf life and being able to cook at a higher heat, it’s not so great for us. While I know this, I still use it sparingly. Preferred fats are; butter, ghee, coconut oil, lard, monounsaturated fats and then polyunsaturated fats. These fats are rich in many important and good things for our health. I’m definitely going to hit more on this at some point, as I am first of all passionate about putting the facts out there that we should and need to be aware of and that also this specific post really is coming to it’s natural end. So, we can save that discussion for another time.