Cooking for a family is sometimes challenging because there are small, medium, and large mouths to feed. It’s always important to take into account the size and shape of meals because changing the size of something might make the meal more appealing, especially to little ones. My favorite ingredient to use when offering different size options is ground protein. It’s easy form into a variety of sizes and there are so many types of ground proteins on the market you’ll never get bored. Plus, if you have kids that like to get their hands dirty in the kitchen and love playing with playdough then have them help shape the different size protein patties.
I’ve made ground protein patties in all different sizes and with almost every type of protein: lamb, pork, bison, elk, goat, turkey, chicken, and more, but my personal favorite is a 1:1 mixture of ground chicken breast and ground chicken thigh. Many recipes call for an egg and breadcrumb binder, but since I’m trying to stay away from gluten and other nutrition-less fillers, I began replacing the egg and breadcrumbs with veggie noodles. This works especially well when making poultry patties because poultry is more flimsy than other proteins which makes it challenging when trying to mold it into various sizes, especially larger patties. Although ground chicken or turkey thigh is a little firmer than breast, it’s still not ideal when forming, searing and flipping. Take it from me, once you incorporate my secret Gluten-Free ingredient tip to help better bind the meat, you’ll never feel the need to use the egg and breadcrumb method again.
Many of my cooking tips and tricks were created out of need to simplify things in the kitchen while adding nutrient dense food to meals. I never used to buy ground poultry because as mentioned, it’s challenging to form the meat into different size patties, but one day I was craving chicken nuggets so I bought some ground chicken breast. As soon as I tried forming the chicken into little nuggets I realized I needed something to bind it together. While staring at an array of veggie noodles in my refrigerator, it dawned on me that they might just do the trick. I decided to combine the veggie noodles into the seasoned ground chicken. It not only helped form firmer nuggets, it also added bright fiesta-like colors as well as nutrients to my meal. The nuggets make a great snack that are easy to eat on the go or great for the kiddos. The sliders and burger patties are perfect lunch and dinner options. Mix and match any ground protein with any veggie noodle and form them into different shapes and sizes. The possibilities are endless.
Speaking of veggie noodles, I used to make my own, but after breaking and returning three machines I decided to save my time and frustration and I found them at my local Whole Foods Market. In their ‘Made Right Here’ section you can now buy pre-spiralized veggie noodles in a variety of flavors: yellow squash, zucchini, sweet potatoes and beets.
- 1lb ground chicken breast
- 1lb ground chicken thigh
- 4 cups shredded veggie noodles, assortment
- Example: squash, sweet potatoes, beets, shredded carrots & broccoli – the more variety the more festive
- Scallions, white ends finely chopped (reserve green tops for pesto ailoli)
- ½ cup coconut oil
- Salt, Pepper, and Special Seasoning
- Preheat oven to 350°
- In a bowl, combine ground poultry, scallions, and season thoroughly.
- In another bowl, combine shredded veggie noodles. If the noodles are too long take scissors and cut them short. The pieces shouldn’t be any more than an inch.
4. In a third bowl, work in batches to thoroughly mix together chicken and veggies.
5. Using an ice cream scoop or spoon, scoop out the required ground chicken amount (for nuggets, sliders, or full patties) and mold according to desired form. Refer to chart below.
|Patty Size||Size||Sear Time||Bake Time|
|Nugget||1-2 TBS||2-4 min/side||3-5 min|
|Slider||1/4 cup||3-6 min/side||4-6 min|
|Burger||1/2 – 3/4 cup||4-8 min/side||5-7 min|
6. In a cast iron pan, heat coconut oil and sear chicken on all sides until golden brown.
7. Place on grated baking sheet and bake in the oven until internal temperature is 160-165 degrees, refer to above chart for approximate bake time.
8. Serve with Scallion Aioli sauce.
Scallion Aioli Sauce
- 2 eggs
- Scallions, reserved green tops chopped
- 1 bunch parsley, stems removed and chopped
- ½ cup champagne vinegar
- 1 lemon, juiced
- ¾ – 1 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Salt & Pepper to Taste
- Place all ingredients except for the olive oil and S&P in a food processor and blend until parsley are very finely chopped.
- ‘Gradually’ add olive oil to ensure the ingredients emulsifies. Don’t add the last ¼ cup if its consistency is too soupy.
- Pulse in salt & pepper to taste.
- Reserve in refrigerator for up to 5-10 days.