After reading a recipe in a children’s cookbook for “healthy” turkey nuggets, I decided to give them a try. The recipe called for uncooked turkey soaked in milk, then rolled in a mixture of whole-wheat flour, bran flakes, onion powder, and a modest amount of salt. Into the oven they went—and emerged 20 minutes later looking small, tan, sad, and, well, uninspired. I cheerfully doled them out to my kids, with a ketchup-and-mustard dip, and was gratified when they cleaned their plates. It didn’t make me the least bit suspicious that they devoured all the side dishes that night!
The next day, cleaning the kitchen, I discovered balled-up napkins filled with cold turkey nuggets wedged under the cover of a radiator near the kitchen table. They’d been carefully wrapped so that the turkey within was completely ensconced in the napkins.
Point taken! The next time I made nuggets, I added grated cheese, seasoned breadcrumbs, and, yes, salt into the concoction. And instead of milk, I coated the turkey pieces with olive oil before rolling them into the mixture. My crispy, savory nuggets were a big success. And once I showed the kids how to make them themselves, the nuggets became even more of a household staple. No more food surreptitiously wrapped in napkins means a meal was a big success, at least, in my house!
What You’ll Need
- 1½ pounds boneless turkey cutlets
- 1¼ cups seasoned bread crumbs
- ⅔ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Pinch of black pepper
- 5 tablespoons olive oil
What to Do
- Preheat the oven to 350℉.
- Show your little chef how to line a baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper. (The parchment will keep the nuggets from sticking.)
- With a sharp knife, slice the turkey cutlets into 2- to 3-inch pieces. Place them into a large mixing bowl.
Teachable Moment #1: What Your Kids Don’t Know About Turkeys
- Baby turkeys dine on berries, seeds, and insects; adult turkeys eat all of the above, along with acorns and small reptiles, including lizards and snakes.
- Turkeys run at speeds of up to 25 miles an hour—and can hit 55 miles an hour in flight.
- Male turkeys are called gobblers; females are called hens. The flap of skin hanging over a turkey’s beak is called a snood; the skin hanging off its neck is called the wattle.
- About 100 years ago, wild turkeys were nearly extinct in North America, due to hunting. But since then the turkey population has soared, and there are around 7 million turkeys in the wild in North America today.—Smithsonian.com
- Invite your little foodie to measure the breadcrumbs and the cheese onto a large rimmed plate. Let her measure and add the garlic powder, salt, and black pepper. Put the breadcrumbs, cheese, and spices into a clean plastic bag.
Teachable Moment #2: Cheesy Facts about Cheese
- Parmesan is a type ofextra-hard cheese made from cow’s milk—and it’s the cheese people pair most often with spaghetti and other types of pasta.
- Parmesan cheese comes in loaves—just like bread. It takes 160 gallons of milk to make one loaf, which weighs about 110 pounds.
- The older Parmesan cheese gets, the stronger it tastes!
- If you want a bit of Parmesan cheese, don’t slice it with any old knife that’s hanging around the kitchen. Grate it with a grater, or break off pieces with a special cheese knife.—WorldGuide.com
- Let your aspiring chef pour the olive oil over the turkey. Demonstrate how to stir with a large spoon to coat the turkey with the oil.
- Show your child how to shake the turkey nuggets, a few at a time, into the breadcrumb and cheese mixture. (Check to make sure all the nuggets are nicely coated.) Let your child arrange the nuggets in a single layer on the parchment paper-lined baking sheet. (Remind her to wash her hands thoroughly with plenty of soap and water after handling raw turkey.)
- Place the nuggets in the oven. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until turkey is thoroughly cooked. Remove from oven and use a spatula to lift the nuggets and place them on a serving platter.
Tip: Serve these nuggets with ketchup, a mixture of ketchup and mustard, cranberry sauce, or honey. If you want to dress up the nuggets, add 1 teaspoon of dried basil and 1 teaspoon of onion powder to the breadcrumb mix.