Historically, wood cookstove cooks were very willing to deep-fat fry foods (especially breads) because it is easier to manage the temperature of the cooking oil than the temperature of the oven. Now, please don't read the last sentence and believe that it is difficult to bake in a wood cookstove. We do have to consider, however, the fact some stove designs are better than others; and no matter what design the stove is, stovetop cooking is easier than baking. Of course, people also didn't consider fried foods as unhealthy as they do now.
So, for my first post about deep-fat frying on a wood cookstove, I'd like to share with you my method for making homemade chicken nuggets. You might find it odd that I called chicken nuggets a meat stretcher, and I can assure you that I was very surprised to find out that this was so. Here's how it works: If Nancy and I were going to have Poor Man's Chicken Monterey, I would cook two chicken breasts. However, if we were going to have homemade chicken nuggets, one chicken breast would be more than sufficient. Thus, you can stretch a small amount of chicken over quite a few people by using this method of preparing it.
Here is what you need:
Now, the first thing to do is to build a hot fire in the wood cookstove. Whenever you deep-fat fry, you need a very hot fire.
Second, put an inch of oil in the bottom of some kind of pan with tall sides. I like to deep-fat fry in a cast iron chicken fryer. You want something with tall sides so that the hot oil doesn't slosh or splatter out onto the cooktop of the stove. Place the pan of oil on the hottest part of the cooktop to begin heating. It goes without saying that whenever you have oil heating for deep-fat frying, you want to keep an eye on it. This is especially true when you are heating oil on any kind of stove where the heat beneath the oil is not under thermostatic control.
|Usually, the hottest part of the cooktop on the Margin Gem is|
right between the two lids over the firebox and slightly to the
right. Thus, this is where the pan of oil for frying the chicken
nuggets was placed.
|The chicken cut into small pieces for making the nuggets. We|
were using boneless thighs in this picture.
Fry them until they are a deep golden brown on the bottom side. The fire should be kept very hot during the entire time that the nuggets are frying.
|I moved the pan a little so that I could get a shot of the raging|
fire I had under the chicken nuggets.
Turn the nuggets over with a fork so that they can fry on the other side. As long as the size of the chicken pieces has been kept fairly thin, there won't be any trouble with the chicken being thoroughly cooked in the same amount of time it takes for the outside of them to become a nice golden brown.
Remove the chicken nuggets to a paper-towel-covered plate to drain and cool a little before they are eaten.
|Finished chicken nuggets.|