Cast Iron

Nugs & Tots

April 16, 2018
Photo by James Ransom
Author Notes

An Americana take on fish and chips: beer-battered chicken nuggets and crispy tater tots. If the tartar sauce isn't your thing, give this "secret sauce" a try. Or good ol' ketchup and mustard. —Emma Laperruque

Test Kitchen Notes

Featured in: Beer-Battered Chicken Nuggets Will Ruin You for All Others —The Editors

  • Serves 4
Ingredients
  • Tartar Sauce
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 3 tablespoons thinly sliced cornichons
  • 2 tablespoons capers, roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon minced pepperoncini
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon whole-grain Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon minced dill
  • 1 tablespoon minced parsley
  • 1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
  • 1 pinch kosher salt, or to taste
  • Nugs and Tots
  • 1 pound frozen tater tots
  • 1 tablespoon Old Bay Seasoning
  • 1 1/4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 cups canola oil, plus more as needed
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1 cup pale, not-too-hoppy beer
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 2 pinches kosher salt, plus more to taste
In This Recipe
Directions
  1. Tartar Sauce
  2. Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Season with salt to taste. Refrigerate until ready to eat.
  1. Nugs and Tots
  2. Preheat the oven to 425° F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment or a silicone mat. Add the tots and toss with the Old Bay Seasoning. Bake for about 25 minutes, until very colorful and crispy.
  3. While those bake, make the nugs. Cut the chicken breasts into chunks—roughly 2 by 1 inches, a scant 1 ounce in weight. Add 1/2-inch worth of oil to a straight-sided skillet (I like a 10-inch cast-iron best here) and set over medium-high heat to reach about 365° F. While that heats up, prepare your dredging station: Add 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, plus 1 pinch salt, to a shallow bowl. Combine the remaining flour, beer, hot sauce, garlic powder, onion powder, and salt in another shallow bowl. Stir the former with a fork to break up any clumps. Stir the latter with a fork until completely smooth. (Adding the beer incrementally—splash then stir, splash then stir—helps create a smooth batter.)
  4. When the oil is ready to go, prepare the chicken nuggets: Coat in flour, dunk in the batter, then get right into the pan. You don’t want to overcrowd the pan, so you’ll probably need to do this in batches. Fry for 3 1/2 to 5 minutes per side, until deeply browned and cooked through. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate—or a cooling rack with paper towels underneath—to drain and slightly cool. Sprinkle with more salt. These are best within 15 or so minutes post-fry, but if you have to wait on the tots at all, no big deal.
  5. Serve the chicken nuggets and tater tots with the tartar sauce.

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Review
Emma is a writer and recipe developer at Food52. Before this, she worked a lot of odd jobs, all at the same time. Think: stir-frying noodles "on the fly," baking dozens of pastries at 3 a.m., reviewing restaurants, and writing articles about everything from how to use leftover mashed potatoes to the history of pies in North Carolina. Now she lives in Maplewood, New Jersey with her husband and their cat, Butter. Stay tuned every Tuesday for Emma's cooking column, Big Little Recipes, all about big flavor and little ingredient lists. And see what she's up to on Instagram and Twitter at @emmalaperruque.