Today’s recipe is all about the sides. Sometimes the sides are the best part of the meal. I love that in those home style American restaurants there is often a vast array of sides to choose from. If you don’t know what I mean, there are some restaurants where you order something like chicken, and then the dish comes with something like 2-3 sides and the options are numerous. Apple sauce? Green beans? Biscuits? Mashed potatoes? Oh yeah, that’s the good stuff.
My favorite place for sides is Cracker Barrel. For a little while while Ryan and I were dating we lived about an hour away from each other. Half way in between us was York, Pennsylvania and at exit 16A off of I-83 was a Cracker Barrel. If you’ve never been to Cracker Barrel please stop there sometime during your next road trip. It’s well worth it and, I think, an important example of Americana. Anyway, I’d drive north into Pennsylvania and he’d drive south towards the Maryland border and we’d meet at Cracker Barrel and have dinner and then go to the movies. We’d get raspberry lemonade and then something like a roast beef dinner or chicken ‘n dumplings (that’s ‘n not in). Those meals come with a choice of bread and two sides. Yum.
When it comes to sides Ryan and I are likely to choose cornbread and mashed potatoes and that’s why this recipe is so perfect. It’s a cornbread muffin topped with mashed potatoes. I used a piping bag to make the mashed potatoes look beautiful and give the impression of being like cupcake icing. I topped it all with a splash of hot sauce and a chicken nugget. All the best sides combined into one elegant savory cupcake. And let me tell you, it was epic. I thought this combo was going to taste good, but it is better than good. In fact, it is blow your taste buds off good.
I originally got this idea from Pinterest and a pin I saw from Teacher-Chef. However, she used boxed ingredients and I wanted to make this from scratch. The mashed potato recipe is mine and the cornbread recipe comes from Once Upon a Chef. I was initially worried that the cornbread was too sweet, but it was actually perfect. The sweetness of the cornbread matched with spicy hot sauce, creamy potatoes, and a crispy chicken nugget was perfection. Your taste buds will be delighted with a blast of varying flavors and textures. This cupcake will make you so darn happy. Amazing as an all-in-one side with dinner or as a snack while watching football.
Finally, I will admit that I did use frozen chicken nuggets. Making my own seemed like more work than I wanted to take on. If you’re better than me, you can totally make the nuggets from scratch. But, how ever you make the nuggets please PLEASE use the oven. It will make the nuggets crispy (the microwave will make them soft) and the crispiness really heightens the deliciousness of this cupcake.
Messy level: Unfortunately this is pretty messy. The cornbread needs two bowls and a muffin pan. The mashed potatoes need a pot and a masher. Also piping the mashed potatoes is a messy pain in the butt! If you’re not trying to be fancy, just spread the potatoes with a knife! I ended up removing the bag and just using my finger to push the potatoes through the fluted piping tube. It looked pretty but my thumb was covered in potatoes.
Cornbread Muffins with Mashed Potatoes and Chicken Nuggets
- ½ cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- ¾ cup yellow cornmeal
- 1¼ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 large eggs
- 2 tbsp honey
- ¾ cup milk
- 2 lbs potatoes (I used Yukon Gold)
- 6 tbsp milk
- 4 tbsp butter
- 1 package of frozen chicken nuggets
- hot sauce
- Preheat the oven to 350/180°.
- Line a muffin pan with paper liners or spray with cooking spray.
- Whisk together the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, sugar and salt in a large bowl.
- In a small bowl, break up the eggs with a whisk. Mix in the honey and then the milk.
- Add the wet ingredients to the dry. Stir until just mixed. Don't worry if there are a few lumps.
- Fill each of the muffin cups until almost full.
- Bake for 17-20 minutes, or until golden.
- Remove from oven. Let them cool a bit while the potatoes are cooking and being mashed.
- Peel the potatoes.
- Cut them in half so they are all about the same size.
- Put them in a large pot and cover with cold water. Salt the water a little bit.
- Bring to a boil and cook for 20 minutes. The potatoes are ready when they are soft but not breaking up on their own. (Try to get your potatoes cooking while the muffins are in the oven)
- Drain out the water.
- In the pot mash the potatoes until there are no lumps (or as best as you can, it's so tough!).
- Add in 3 tbsp milk and 2 tbsp butter. Use the masher to mix it into the potatoes.
- Add in the next 3 tbsp milk and 2 tbsp butter. Add a little salt to taste. Use the masher to mix it all together until smooth and creamy.
- Taste the potatoes. Adjust butter and salt to your liking.
- Let the potatoes cool a bit so you can handle them. Cook the chicken while you wait.
- Put the the chicken nuggets on a baking sheet.
- Bake in the oven until cooked (according to the package instructions).
- Put the mashed potatoes into a piping bag (or just use a knife).
- Pipe, or spread, the mashed potatoes on top of the cornbread muffins.
- Splash a little hot sauce over the mashed potatoes so it drips down the sides.
- Top with a chicken nugget.
- Stuff your face.