Buffalo Stuffed Chicken Pops
Buffalo Stuffed Chicken Pops Yields 12-15 Here's a fun little project I thought of when developing some items for a new restaurant concept. I really enjoy Buffalo chicken dip, but for a restaurant it's just a “me too” item, that's almost as easy to make at home as it is to drive to the restaurant. So, I had a dream, and that dream was buffalo dip stuffed chicken nuggets rolled in a crispy panko breading and fried, and meybe even served on a stick (I didn't like the stick option once I tried it). The initial results were stunning. Because I don't believe in “secret recipes” I decided to share it. It takes a little work and preparation, but definitely worth the effort. Your dining guests will appreciate it. For the dip (the center) 12 oz Cream cheese (1.5 packages) softened ¼ c hot sauce (franks or valentina worked great for me) 1 bunch scallions (finely chopped) ½ cup shredded cheddar or crumbled Blue cheese (you can experiment with your favorite cheeses here) Combine all ingredients thoroughly. You may have to microwave the cream cheese a few seconds to get it soft before adding the rest of the ingredients. Be careful because you don't want your other cheese to melt yet, we want that cheese pull when we bite into the finished pop. Place in the freezer to chill and harden for about an hour. Pull it from the freezer and using a teaspoon roll into around 1” balls. It's ok if they're not perfect, but size consistency is most important. Place on a parchment lined tray and back into the freezer.
The Chicken Nugget 1# boneless skinless chicken breast or thighs, diced in 1” pieces (sure turkey works too) you can also buy ground chicken 2 tsp salt 1 tsp white pepper 1 tsp black pepper 1 tsp parsley flakes (or fresh chopped parsley) ½ tsp garlic powder This works best if your chicken is very cold. Like almost frozen, as the mechanical grinding will heat it up. My preference is to use a meat grinder with the smallest die, but pulsing in a high powered food processor will work
Combine all ingredients and run through the grinder (or pulse into a food processor until it's homogenous, but not too heavily pureed, (you need some bits of chicken in there)This is why I prefer the grinder. If your chicken is already ground you can just add the spices and be done, but I've found grinding myself gives better results. Give it all a good mix, it should be very sticky. Chill well until ready for use
The Breading 3 eggs beaten well ¼ c water 1 c flour (GF ok) 2 c panko (GF ok) Salt and White Pepper Set up a breading station. A pan of flour, a pan of eggs and water well combined, a pan of Panko, season each with a little salt and pepper
Assembling Here's where it all comes together. You’ll need a bowl of cold water for help forming and keeping the meat from sticking to your hands. Have a lined sheet pan ready, because these will go back into the freezer (sorry, but it’s worth it) take about a 1 oz scoop of chicken (cookie scoop is my tool of choice) and flatten it out on your wet palm. Place a cream cheese ball in the center and wrap the chicken around it. Roll into a smooth ball and then roll it in flour. Place on a lined sheet and repeat until all are done. It’s kinda like making a scotch egg. You’ll get better at it as you go, just keep those hands wet. At this point you can push in the popsicle sticks if you like,. Place back in the freezer for 30 minutes. Roll in egg, then panko. You can cook them now or freeze until ready to fry
Frying My preference is to avoid seed oils. I know avocado oil, beef tallow, sustainable palm oil, coconut oil is expensive, but you can pan fry these in a couple inches of oil, or use a smaller saucepan, fry in small batches and reuse the strained oil again later. My choice here is avocado oil. Vegetable oils work just fine, but I avoid them. We'll save that conversation for another day.
Fry them 3-5 minutes in 350* oil, and drain well on a rack or paper towel. My indicator for doneness is when the filling tries to start sneaking out. They can be held warm for up to an hour. A little more hot sauce and ranch or blue cheese for dipping will complete the dish Enjoy!