How to Make McNuggets, Greggs' Vegan Sausage Roll and Other Fast Food Favourites
As we cruise into the second month of lockdown, life indoors has become a surreal new normal. With bars, cafes and restaurants closed indefinitely, we no longer have the freedom to eat what we want, when we want, because the UK's food supply chain is, quite simply, fucked.
There's also the lack of fast food to contend with, since the majority of big chains have temporarily closed thousands of UK stores in response to the pandemic. While that of course makes perfect sense, it does leave a greasy hole in the nation's stomachs, where nuggets, chips and sausage rolls once lived.
To help you fill that boot-shaped McNugget void in your life, I recreated a few favourite fast food items, so you can too.McDonald's Chicken McNuggets
Right now, many of us would happily trade places with those kids who said they'd eat mechanically-recovered chicken nuggets, right in front of a heartbroken Jamie Oliver. The good news is: now you can (sort of)!
The homemade McDonald's favourite comes with a crispy golden coating, 100 percent tender breast meat (no skin and grisly bits here, Jamie) and a variety of sauces ripe for dunking. If you're feeling crafty and have nothing better to do with your time, go the extra mile and transform a face mask box into McNugget box, like I did. McQuarantin' it.
Serves: 18-20 pieces | Prep: 1-2 hours (including freeze time) | Cook: 15-20 minutes
For the chicken:3 x skinless chicken breast, diced and blended in food processor1 eggSeason with salt and pepper
For the dredge: 256g (1 cup) cornflour
For the batter:200ml water1 egg15g (1 tbsp) yellow mustard, Frenchies15g (1 tbsp) garlic powder15g (1 tbsp) onion powder4g (1 tsp) MSG or flavour enhancer4g (1 tsp) salt and pepper55g cornflour135g flour
For the frying:Half a bottle of 1L neutral oil, like vegetable or rapeseed oil, for frying
For the nuggets1. Dice chicken breast and put into a food processor, along with one egg. Season with salt and pepper, blitz until chicken is paste-like and smooth.2. Line a baking tray with baking paper or foil and, using wet hands, shape the chicken nuggets into the four classic shapes; bell, ball, boot and bone.3. Freeze the shapes for 1-2 hours so that the chicken can hold its shape when dredged, battered and fried.4. Heat oil in a cast-iron pan or deep fryer to 190 degrees. If you don't have a thermometer, stick a wooden chopstick in the oil; if you see bubbles start to form you know the oil is ready.
5. While the oil is heating up, make the batter. Add all the ingredients into a bowl and whisk until smooth. We're looking for a thin batter.6. Take the chicken out of the freezer. Using one hand for the dry ingredients, lightly dust with cornflour, shake off excess, and use the other hand for wet – to dip into batter and shake off excess. Add the nuggets to the oil in small batches and don't crowd the pieces.
7. We're going to twice fry so that the nuggets can crisp up. Fry the first batch for five minutes. Remove, drain and leave for five minutes, then fry again for another five minutes until golden brown.8. Remove the nuggets from the oil and drain on paper towel to soak up excess oil.9. Serve with dipping sauces (recipes below).
For the saucesSweet and sour sauce60g (½ cup) apricot jam2 tbsp golden caster sugar3 tsp apple cider vinegar½ tsp soy sauce½ tsp French's yellow mustard¼ tsp salt⅛ tsp garlic powder2 tbsp water
Add all ingredients together in a saucepan, mix well and heat on a low flame to lightly cook off the sugar, or until sauce slightly starts bubbling. Remove from heat and sieve to strain any lumps.
Honey mustard1 tsp honey2 tsp yellow mustard
Mix together well in a small dish.
Ranch3 tbsp mayonnaise2 tbsp buttermilk¼ tsp garlic powder¼ tbsp onion powder½ tbsp chopped chives¼ tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley¼ tbsp chopped dillSeason with salt and pepper
Mix together well in a small dish.Subway Italian BMT
"Have it your way!" they say – but can you really? Yes, actually, you can, by making it all yourself. The Subway BMT is an all-round solid sandwich, where each component brings something to the table, and all work well in unison. No wonder it's an "all-time Italian" classic (their words, not mine, nor the people of Italy's).
However, it's absolute blasphemy that Subway discontinued their ranch dressing last year, so in honour of a great fallen comrade I've used ranch in this recipe, but feel free to use whatever sauce you fancy.
Serves: 2 subs | Prep: 1 hour (if making bread) / 5 minutes (if not, because it's just assembling a sandwich, isn't it) | Cook: 20 minutes (if making bread) / 5 minutes (for toasting)
For the bread (serves 2):256g (2 cups) plain flour15g (1 tbsp) bread flour4g (1 tsp) sugar7g (1 and ¼ tsp) dry active yeast, or if using fresh yeast be sure to use three times the amount (21g in this case)¼ tsp honey6g (1 tsp) salt¼ cup (32g) vegetable oil177ml water
* If you can't be bothered to make your own bread, a jumbo hot dog roll will do.
For the filling: Slices of Black Forest hamSlices of Genoa salamiSpicy pepperoni1 x iceburg lettuce1 x tomato1 x cucumber1 x red onion1 x green pepper2 x Edam or Provolone cheese slices (cut into triangles)
For the ranch dressing (serves 2):3 tbsp mayonnaise2 tbsp buttermilk¼ tsp garlic powder¼ tbsp onion powder½ tbsp chopped chives¼ tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley¼ tbsp chopped dillSeason with salt and pepper
* Again, if you can't be bothered with this, just use the bottled stuff.
For the bread1. Bloom yeast in water and honey in a small bowl, mix well and let sit for 5/10 mins.2. In a separate mixing bowl add flour, salt, sugar and oil and mix well together.3. Add the water-yeast mixture to the dry ingredients and make sure everything's incorporated.4. Knead for 8-10 minutes until the dough is smooth and springs back when pressed.5. Put dough in lightly oiled mixing bowl and brush oil on the dough to prevent drying out, cover with cling film in a warm place or in the oven with the oven light on for 1-2 hours.6. Once doubled in size, deflate the dough slightly and roll out on the lightly floured surface.7. Shape into 8-inch foot-long rolls.8. Use a proofing couche – or rolls of cling film or foil to create ridges – and cover with a tea towel.9. Lightly dust the grooves with flour, place dough in the grooves, cover with a tea towel and rest for 45 minutes.10. Preheat oven to 180 degrees/356°F/gas 4. Make three scores in the top of the dough to let steam escape from the bread when baking and spritz the dough with water. Bake for 20 minutes or until bread is golden brown.11. Take out of oven, butter the top with cold butter and wrap in a tea towel to create steam and ensure bread stays soft and moist.
For the sandwich1. Slice all the salad ingredients.2. Cut the cheese into triangles.3. Cut the roll in half, place cheese on the bottom of sub and lightly toast under the grill.4. Once the cheese has melted, assemble the rest of the sub. According to the original Subway photo, for "authenticity" build in the following order: lettuce, tomato, cucumber, green pepper, ham, salami, pepperoni and dressing.THE GREGGS VEGAN SAUSAGE ROLL
The release of Greggs' vegan sausage roll was, bizarrely, one of 2019's most divisive moments. Piers Morgan called it "disgusting" on national television (even though it really doesn't taste that different to a normal sausage roll?) and Twitter was aflame with people offended at the existence of a food item that absolutely nobody was forcing them to eat.
Anyway, this recipe uses ready to roll puff pastry, because even with all this time on our hands, no one has time to make puff pastry from scratch. The vegan version still puffs up and flakes beautifully in the oven, matching up to the original 96-layer Greggs version. For the "bespoke" Quorn mixture, be sure to use a plant-based mince that isn't dry and bitty; choose something soft and malleable.
Also, it's incredible how sticking in a bunch of sage can trick the brain into thinking you're eating an actual sausage, but jokes on you, brain – there's no meat here.
Serves: 6 sausage rolls | Prep: 30-40 minutes | Cook: 15 minutes
For the sausage mixture:1 x 400g plant-based mince (I used Meatless Farm Co.)250g closed cup white mushrooms1 white onion1 x packet of fresh sage (16 leaves)1 tsp garlic powder1 tsp onion powder1 tsp MSG or flavour enhancerSeason with salt and pepper
For the pastry:1 x 500g packet of ready to roll vegan puff pastry (I used Jus Rol)Olive oil (for brushing)
1. Finely dice the onions, sweat onions until soft and put into food processor.2. Finely slice the mushrooms, cook until soft and until no liquid remains.3. Add mince, chopped fresh sage, garlic powder, onion powder/msg, season to taste.4. Add mixture into food processor and blitz until smooth.5. Preheat oven to 150C/130C fan/gas 2.6. Roll out puff pastry into 2mm thickness7. Roll out vegan sausage mixture into cylinders
8. Place the cylinders on the pastry, wrap the pastry around the mixture, trim and score the top to allow steam to escape9. Brush olive oil on top10. Bake for 15 minutes or until puff pastry is golden brown. Be sure to turn the sausage rolls halfway through to bake evenly on all sides.NANDO'S GARLIC BREAD
While the bread at Nando's might not be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of the cheeky chicken chain, their side order deserves a spot in the limelight. Its crusty exterior and soft, pillowy insides make for the perfect vessel to dunk or soak up sauces, soups, or even the ideal tool to sandwich things in between.
Serves: 2-3 | Prep: 1 hour | Cook: 5 minutes
For the bread:256g (2 cups) plain flour15g (1 tbsp) bread flour4g (1 tsp) sugar7g (1 and ¼ tsp) dry active yeast, or if using fresh yeast be sure to use three times the amount (21g in this case)1.5g (¼ tsp) honey6g (1 tsp) salt32ml (¼ cup) vegetable oil177ml water
For the butter:25g butter1 clove garlic, minced1 or 2 sprigs of fresh parsley, finely chopped
1. Bloom yeast in water and honey in a small bowl, mix well and let sit for 5/10 mins.2. In a separate mixing bowl add flour, salt, sugar and oil, and mix well together.3. Add the water yeast mixture to the dry ingredients and make sure everything's incorporated.4. Knead for 8-10 minutes until the dough is smooth and springs back when pressed.5. Put in lightly oiled mixing bowl and brush oil on the dough to prevent drying out, cover with cling film in a warm place or in the oven with the oven light on for 1-2 hours.6. While waiting for dough to rise, preheat oven to 180 degrees/356°F/gas 4.7. Once doubled in size, deflate the dough and roll out on a lightly floured surface.8. Divide the dough into two or three portions and shape into the classic Nando's garlic bread shape, which weirdly looks a lot like a lemon.9. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Be sure to turn halfway through to cook evenly.10. Leave to cool for 5-10 minutes on a cooling rack.11. Slice bread in half . Mix butter, garlic and parsley together and spread on bread. Lightly toast under the grill.