Meat Glue Week: Chicken Nuggets

I grew up eating Chicken McNuggets; they were one of the few types of meat I would eat and whenever my mom wanted to get some protein in me, she’d take me to McDonalds. Before Chicken McNuggets were introduced in the eighties, there wasn’t much of a market for boneless chicken, but afterwards, boneless chicken pieces exploded in popularity. McDonald’s created Chicken McNuggets to fill a gap, but what the ended up doing was creating a whole new fast food group.

Say what you want about the evils of McDonalds, but I actually enjoy their food for what it is: fast, convenient and rigourously tested to meet the taste standards of the majority. To me, chicken nuggets taste good and if you believe what McDonald’s tells you, they’re good for you too!

Chicken McNuggets are made with all white meat chicken, but they’re nothing like chicken strips and apparently the reason why is meat glue. The meat glue helps bind together processed chicken so it can be shaped into those iconic McNugget shapes: boot, tombstone, and the oval.

There are quite a few McNugget recipes floating around on the net, but none of them contain meat glue, so I came up with an ad hoc recipe. I mixed up ground chicken with salt, pepper and meat glue then let it set overnight in the fridge. I was hope that the next day the chicken patty would be solid enough to cookie cut out some shapes, but it seemed like the meat glue didn’t do much to the consistency of the meat.

Since I couldn’t cut out shapes, I hand shaped the chicken, then used Thomas Keller’s buttermilk fried chicken recipe to coat. The nuggets were good, but nothing like McNuggets; some how the texture of all white meat McNuggets was different. My nuggets had the distinct feel of ground chicken, whereas McNuggets feel like, well, I can’t describe the texture of McNuggets.

As tasty as these chicken nuggets were, I think I’ll leave nugget making to the professionals!

30 Comments add yours

  1. I think the ground chicken meat was ground too small. When you think about it, chicken nuggets don’t have the fat either.
    From the texture, I had always guessed that nuggets were white meat.

    Funny, I was thinking that I needed to grind the chicken up more. I did try with some pieces of cut chicken, but I didn’t weigh them down enough so the meat glue didn’t glue them together.

    steph on May 12th, 2010 at 10:58 am

    You need to put the minced chicken and some bread crumbs in a food processor, you should get this semi dry chicken mixture. Roll the mixture into a ping pong ball shape, roll them in flour, dunk them in a couple of beaten eggs, then roll them in bread crumbs. Now use your thumb to press down on the ball to shape it into nugget form, then fry.

    Thanks for the tip!

    steph on June 16th, 2010 at 12:18 pm
    Mike on June 12th, 2010 at 6:23 pm
  2. Did they air that Jamie Oliver mini-series about improving the U.S. school lunch program there? In it (for those who haven’t seen it), he showed a group of kids how chicken nuggets were made. He boned out a whole chicken and put the breast, thighs, etc., on the side. Then he hacked the carcass into chunks and whizzed it up in the food pro, pushing the resulting goo through a sieve to catch the bony bits. He then added a starch, seasonings, and formed chicken nuggets. He said in every other case in which he had done this, the kids to whom he was demonstrating said they were grossed out. But this group of West Virginia kids said they would still eat the things.

    I’ve always thought processed nuggets tasted like wet cardboard. Why nuggets when whole chicken pieces can be cut up, dredged in flour and cooked?

    I have seen that mini series and what he makes does end up looking pretty gross.

    steph on May 14th, 2010 at 10:33 am
  3. theminx – you’ll also note if you watched the episode that he said “thankfully they do not make them like this in America.”

    We have slightly higher standards with all of the government agencies keeping an eye on things.

    I’d try using another binder in addition to meat glue, perhaps flour of some sort. In my experience, the texture of the nuggets could best be described as “breadlike.” At least the nuggets look gorgeous!

    Thanks, I think adding a binder would help.

    steph on May 14th, 2010 at 10:34 am
  4. As a fan of the comedy music group Paul and Storm, I can’t think of Chicken Nuggets any longer without hearing their song Nugget Man.

    I always thought nuggets were invented by McDonalds, but Nugget Man is the real inventor! Apparently the man who invented nuggets was the Edison of poultry!

    steph on May 14th, 2010 at 10:36 am
  5. Perhaps McDonald’s nuggets are not ground, but are actually small mechanically separated left over bits of chicken. So instead of a ground meat texture you’d have a little more bite.

    McDonald’s seems to have nuggets that have “whole” little bits of chicken, so they could be mechanically separated bits of chicken. I have to buy some chicken breast to try it out.

    steph on May 14th, 2010 at 10:38 am
  6. Your nuggets look great! I’d much rather have your meat-glue-and-buttermilk-fried-chicken nuggets than McDonald’s nuggets!

    Thanks! They were quite tasty, but I’ll admit, McDonald’s is easier!

    steph on May 14th, 2010 at 10:44 am
  7. I have tried re creating those wonderful little nuggets too! I realized one day that the closest to their chicken I can get at home is taking a chicken breast and beating the living hell out of it with a mallet. Its soft like the ground stuff, yet still together. I cannot for the life of me get the breading right but the chicken is on point. Maybe that could help?

    Pounding the chicken sounds like a great idea, thanks!

    steph on May 17th, 2010 at 10:04 am
  8. We’re pretty sad that you didn’t McDonalds shape them.
    (like those were real chicken shapes anyways)

    Did you provide all the sauces? BBQ? S/S? Honey? Mustard?

    Muncha muncha.

    I wanted to shape them into McDonald’s shapes, but the chicken wasn’t shapable enough!
    We didn’t have all the sauces, just honey mustard.

    steph on May 17th, 2010 at 10:06 am
  9. The boot shape has always been my favourite

    Mmm, boots! I personally love the tombstone now, but when I was a kid, my favourite was the elusive circle.

    steph on May 21st, 2010 at 11:11 am
  10. I always thought nuggets were invented by McDonalds, but Nugget Man is the real inventor! Apparently the man who invented nuggets was the Edison of poultry!

  11. Your nuggets didn’t taste like McDonald’s ones because McDonald’s ones contain a lot of corn. I heard that it is mostly made of corn and the rest is chicken so they obviously won’t taste like fresh, homemade, tasty nuggets.

    I’ve heard about corn in McNuggets too, but I thought that McDonald’s only had all white meat nuggets now. I guess I’ll never know!

    steph on May 27th, 2010 at 7:26 pm
  12. Chicken thigh meat. Use it.

  13. Hi,

    first off ‘all white meat’ does not necessarily mean ‘all breast meat’. When you hear ‘all white meat’ in advertising it can often mean that it was dark meat that was bleached of color and is thus white. (There is also a centrifugal process that makes dark meat ‘white meat’ – )

    Also when they say ‘all white meat’ that doesn’t mean that the sole/or primary ingredient is ‘white meat’ only that all the meat in it is white. It could be 90% corn made with bleached dark meat and still be an ‘all white meat’ chicken nugget.

    Marketers are like lawyers in that the most obvious intepretation of the words is probably what they want you to believe they are saying but is not what they are actually saying and might be completely the opposite.

  14. you’re adding meat glue to something on purpose??? Any idea what the ramifications are on your health? I would avoid this produst at all costs, it is NOT safe for human consumption. Google meat glue for more info.

    I googled “meat glue”… Apparently you have no idea, or basis in reality for what you write. Not that I want any “meat glue” or have eaten anything made with it.

    Mke on August 17th, 2011 at 5:56 pm

    JosieBear1951 on April 6, 2011 at 3:05 pm
  16. McDonalds contributes to the torture of animals. Please don’t support them or any fast food companies for that matter. Humans don’t need to eat meat!!!!!!!! Vegetables forever.

    Why does everything have to be spoilt by people who think their own ideals are the only way, and that everyone should be forced into following them.

    meateater on April 14th, 2011 at 12:58 pm
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