Oh, Thanksgiving. Time of gratitude, feasting, and lots of leftover turkey. Much to my food-blogger chagrin, my kid loves a nugget above most other foods. I've spent a lot of time reading labels on the hippie brands at Whole Foods and some are pretty good at leaving out the scary ingredients, but make up for it with a loooooong list of "organic" and "natural" things like paprika extract and corn starch and stuff that we don't necessarily need in our nuggets.
Also, I always want to do something creative with Thanksgiving leftovers, but often lack the brain power after a huge meal and no sleep.
Have I mentioned that M refuses to sleep in houses other than ours? It happened gradually: At about 18 months he started waking up crazy early (like, 4:30 am, early) when we slept away from home and refused to go back to sleep. Then, he started refusing to sleep at all. The last time we stayed at my parents' house, he fought sleep until 4 am. And when we last slept at my in-laws', he slept from 9:30 pm to 1 am and that. was. it.
Maybe the turkey's tryptophan will knock him out? Fingers crossed.
Anyway, these nuggets solve a lot of our problems: They use up the leftover turkey, don't require a lot of thought, and are something my kid likes anyway, but without a lot of the additives.
I used a leftover rotisserie chicken for some of the recipe developing because for us, and I'd imagine for many of you, a leftover chicken is more common than leftover turkey, so this recipe can be used year-round. Also, I prefer to use bread over breadcrumbs in the actual meat mixture (save the panko or breadcrumbs for the nuggets' outside) because I think the slice soaks up the milk more efficiently and acts as a better binder and liquid adder. But use homemade, bakery-made, or ezekiel bread if you can: Don't even get me started on the crap in most commercially available breads. And while grating the onion might seem like an unnecessary step, I think it helps the nuggets hold together better than minced onions do, but if you want to chop, make sure they're done finely.
Leftover turkey nuggets
10 oz leftover turkey or chicken (combination of light and dark meat)
1 piece of stale(ish) bread
¼ cup whole milk
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 small or ½ large onion, grated
½ tsp sage
2 oz cheddar or gruyere, cut into small cubes
1 eggs, lightly beaten
1/3 cup panko or whole wheat bread crumbs
1/3 cup parmesan
½ tsp salt
Soak the bread in milk while prepping the rest of your ingredients.
Combine the soaked bread with the leftover turkey and pulse in a food processor until the mixture is in coarse crumbs.
Turn the mixture out into a large bowl and add the Dijon mustard, grated onion, sage, and cheese and mix well. Season with salt and pepper and mix a few more times.
In two separate bowls, lightly beat the egg with a fork. In the second bowl, combine the panko, parmesan cheese, and salt and mix with your fingers or another fork.
Using a large spoon, scoop about 2 Tbsp of the turkey mixture into your palms and roll them into balls. Flatten them into nuggets and dredge them first in the egg, then in the panko/cheese/salt mixture.
Heat olive oil over a medium-low flame. Cook the nuggets until the bottoms are golden brown and the cheese inside of the nugget begins to ooze. Flip and repeat on the other side.
Yield: About 12-14 large nuggets