In the park the other day, I was talking to a mum who was bemoaning the fact that her two kids, aged eight and five, will eat nothing but chicken nuggets and fish fingers. Not homemade nuggets using free-range chicken, nor fingers using fish from a sustainable source, but the stuff that comes in packets, frozen.
"Why don't you make some of your own?" I suggested. "You can even get the kids to help you. They love it."
"I don't have the time," she replied. "And I wouldn't know where to start, anyway!"
Well, she's come to the right place.
For this delicious crumb coating is wonderful on either chicken or fish, and superb for both children and adults. It's nutty, savoury and very moreish. Clearly it contains nuts, so if there are any allergies in your family, just leave them out.
I've used skinless free-range chicken breasts for this demonstration, but to make fish fingers, use firm fish such as cod, haddock or Pollock.
For 3-4 kids
2-3 free-range chicken breasts, cut into chunks
2 tbsp plain flour, lightly seasoned with pepper
1 free-range egg For the crumb coating
100g mixed nuts (almonds, Brazils, walnuts, hazelnuts), lightly toasted in a dry frying pan for 1-2 mins
3 slices of brown bread, ideally crusts
50g of Parmesan, grated
1/2 bunch of thyme, just the leaves
250ml sunflower or vegetable oil
1. To make the crumb coating, put all the ingredients into a food processor and whiz until it clumps together, then transfer to a plate.
2. Toss the chicken breast chunks in the seasoned flour.
3. In a cup, beat the egg with a fork, then transfer to a plate.
4. Dip the floured chicken in the egg.
5. Now roll the eggy chicken nuggets in the crumbs, ensuring they are all coated. You can also do this in a freezer bag to create less mess.
6. Heat the oil in a large frying pan until hot enough to make a breadcrumb sizzle. Use a slotted spoon to gently transfer the nuggets to the oil. Cook in batches for 4-5 mins until the chicken is cooked through. Drain on kitchen paper.
7. Serve with sweetcorn and a small buttered baked potato, or whatever your children fancy.