It’s Not Thanksgiving For My Family Without Nanny’s Fried Turkey Nuggets

A family-favorite alternative to the traditional roasted turkey.

Fried Turkey Nuggets

As most families do, my family has a definite favorite dish on our Thanksgiving menu. While we’ll always have canned cranberry sauce, deviled eggs, slow cooker mac and cheese, and Nana’s homemade dressing at Thanksgiving, none of those dishes are the star of the show. There’s one dish that everyone in my family looks forward to more than any of the others: the fried turkey.

When you hear fried turkey, you’re probably thinking of a whole fried turkey that’s usually cooked outside in a large fryer. The kind that you see people slowly and carefully dropping into a hot fryer full of oil, but this is quite the opposite. The fried turkey on our Thanksgiving menu is more of a nugget. It’s made from turkey breasts that are cut into smaller pieces, battered, and fried until golden brown. 

The recipe was originally introduced to my family by my great-grandmother, Nanny. Not only are the fried turkey nuggets everyone’s favorite, but they come together with a short and simple ingredient list. In addition to the turkey breast, you’ll just need buttermilk, flour, salt, pepper, and oil for frying.

My grandmother, who is now in charge of preparing the fried turkey nuggets each year, has perfected the process and has a few tips for making sure it turns out perfectly. First, the turkey should be marinated in buttermilk for at least a few hours, and overnight if possible. Second, make sure each nugget is completely dry before dropping it into the frying oil. And lastly, make sure not to overcrowd your fryer when adding your turkey nuggets.

My grandmother always spends quite a bit of her time in the kitchen on Thanksgiving morning cooking the fried turkey as she makes multiple batches. One year while the turkey was frying, my grandmother was having issues with her fryer and everyone immediately sprung into action to fix the fryer. My uncle even offered to go home and return with his fryer. Everyone jumped in to help to make sure that we didn’t go without everyone’s favorite dish.

So if you’re looking for a new way to cook turkey for Thanksgiving this year, I can’t recommend the fried turkey nuggets enough. However, if you do serve them, just know that they’ll likely be requested every year from now on. And a few of the nuggets likely won’t even make it to the serving platter, as they’ll disappear as soon as they come out of the fryer.

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