It may or may not come as a surprise to you that SO often in my classes children don’t know where the food we are cooking or eating has come from. In regards to meat, they will understand that chicken breasts/ thighs/ wings etc come from a chicken because that’s what it says on the packet BUT what about meats that aren’t named after the animal they come from? Where does beef come from and where does pork come from? But also, how are chicken nuggets made?* What part of a chicken makes a nugget?
Growing up, my younger brother used to call every meat chicken – ‘what chicken are we having for dinner today mummy?’. My sister and I, not being much older, used to laugh and say ‘it’s not chicken, it’s meat!’. My mum then always went on to tell him what meat it was and where it came from. Nobody is born knowing these things so of course we have to be taught.
Another childhood memory I have just thought of is Teddy Bear ham – hopefully some of you will know what I’m talking about. We used to beg my mum to buy it for us at from deli counter in the supermarket and she’d never want to buy it. I don’t blame her – I wouldn’t buy it today. But, what child doesn’t want to eat food that looks like a teddy bear? I still have no idea how they make that…
Some things might not be easy to explain but cooking can help massively. Handling raw meat isn’t the first thing you’d want your children to be doing in the kitchen, I know, it will be a hygiene lesson as well. However, getting your children involved in cutting up meat can be as easy as giving them a small paring knife and fork to cut up a chicken breast or piece of pork. Most children don’t like touching raw meats because of the texture so I often suggest using a fork rather than their hands to hold the meat in place and it helps. This way they’ll start asking questions about what they’re preparing and you can answer before they scoff it all down at dinner.
A great recipe we do in classes is Popcorn Chicken! We use cornflakes rather than breadcrumbs so that we can bake them and they’re still extra crispy without being deep fried – making them a healthy alternative to chicken nuggets*. Here’s my recipe.
(Makes enough for 4-5 portions)
500g Chicken, cubed
150g Plain Flour
1 Tsp Cajun Seasoning
½ Tsp Salt
¼ Tsp Pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 200ᵒC. Line 2 large baking trays with greaseproof paper. To make the batter; in a large bowl, add the flour, salt, pepper and Cajun seasoning. Make a well in the centre and add the egg. Use a fork to beat the egg whilst adding a little flour at a time. When the batter becomes thick, start adding the milk in small additions. This method will ensure that you have no lumps in your batter.
In a separate bowl, roughly crush the cornflakes – they should be in small pieces, not dust.
Dip the chicken into the batter and then roll around in the cornflakes. Place the chicken on the lined baking tray.
Bake in the oven for 10 minutes or until cooked through.