Baked Parmesan Chicken Nuggets
When we were kids, my mother used to make this Parmesan chicken dish that was so good we would fight for drippings, every last crumb. She would start with a whole chicken, remove the skin and bones (and use them for making chicken stock), and then cut the meat into small pieces. (She made “nuggets” before anyone called them that!)
Then she she would dip the pieces into melted butter, dredge them in breadcrumbs and Parmesan, and bake them.
My god were they good.
Several years ago when I asked mom for the recipe, she hadn’t made it in so many years she had completely forgotten how. After several false starts, my father and I finally recreated what comes close to her original recipe. The secret of course is the melted butter. When we made it with olive oil, it was okay, but not the earth-shattering deliciousness we were looking for. At least that part of the recipe my mother remembered! (halfway through our recipe experimentation) Also, when you use boneless skinless meat that has been cut into small pieces, the ratio of buttery crunchy coating to the meat is much higher than regular coated baked or fried chicken.
Updated from the recipe archive. First posted in 2006.
Note that the color of your roasting pan may make a difference in your results. A dark roasting pan (as pictured) may impart more heat and may brown the bottom of the chicken more.
- 1 clove garlic, minced (1 teaspoon)
- 1 stick butter (1/2 cup or 1/4 pound), melted
- 1 cup dried bread crumbs
- 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese (or 2/3 cup if you are using a Microplane zester)
- 2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic salt (can sub regular salt)
- A large pinch of Italian seasoning (herb mix)
- 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 lbs of skinless, boneless, chicken meat, cut into 1-inch to 2-inch wide pieces
1 Preheat oven to 450°F. Pat the chicken pieces dry with paper towels. Patting the chicken pieces dry will help the chicken pieces have crispy breading when baked.
2 In a small bowl, stir the minced garlic into the melted butter. In another bowl mix together the breadcrumbs, Parmesan, parsley, salt, garlic salt, Italian seasoning, and pepper. Piece by piece, dip the chicken pieces into the garlic melted butter, and then dredge into the Parmesan breadcrumb mixture to coat.
Note that if your chicken pieces are cold, they may cause the melted butter to thicken, leaving too much butter sticking the chicken pieces. If you see this happening, just reheat the butter.
3 Place coated chicken pieces on to a 9x13 (or larger) roasting dish. Try to leave a little room between each piece. (You may need to use more than one roasting pan.) Drizzle with remaining garlic butter and bake uncovered 15 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through and juices run clear. Note that the chicken will get much more browned on the bottom side than on the top.