Cajun chicken nuggets
Oil-free, baked and full of spicy fire.
At first glance these might appear to be kiddie food but, believe me, they're not for children unless you know children with a well developed taste for spicy fire.
They are, instead, slices of chicken kept tender and juicy by their yoghurt marinade and cooked, without the need of oil, in a crust of breadcrumbs and Cajun seasoning.
You can buy Cajun seasoning pre-mixed from supermarkets and spice merchants. If you would like to make your own – it’s just measuring and stirring – I have included the mix I make for you below.
Cook's tip: Make quick fresh breadcrumbs with ordinary white bread, slightly dried, in the blender. Pita bread makes great breadcrumbs, too. You could use panko, but toast it lightly it in a little vegetable oil in a frying pan first as it won't brown in the nuggets' short cooking time.
Cajun chicken nuggets
Makes about 10 nuggets.
1 chicken breast fillet, skin off
180ml (¾ cup) unflavoured natural yogurt
1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning (see below)
½ cup fresh breadcrumbs
Cut the chicken breast into 3cm (a little bigger than 1 inch) pieces. Put the pieces in a bowl or resealable plastic bag and pour over the yogurt, tossing and massaging to ensure they’re all well covered. Let the nuggets marinate in the fridge for at least an hour; overnight is better.
Set your oven to 220°C (425°F) and get out a baking tray.
Mix the Cajun seasoning and breadcrumbs together on a plate.
Remove each nugget from the yogurt and shake off the excess, although don’t be too thorough: this is what sticks the coating to the chicken.
Roll the nugget in the breadcrumb mixture until well coated and place on the tray.
Put the tray in the oven for 15-20 minutes, until golden and cooked through. You can turn them over halfway through, if you like, although it’s not absolutely essential.
If you want something to dip these into – and why wouldn’t you? – consider condiments that can stand up to the nuggets' fire. Garlicky aioli would be a good match, as would Dijon mustard (perhaps mixed with a little honey), mayonnaise with some wholegrain mustard stirred through it or even a spicy bottled barbecue sauce.
Cajun seasoning mix
2 teaspoons paprika
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon sea salt flakes
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
Measure the herbs and spices into a small bowl and mix together until well combined. Store in an airtight container.