March 19, 2010

It Appears That Chicken McNuggets Are Extruded.

how McNuggets are made, originally uploaded by Jake Pierson.

This McNugget mold is apparently hanging as decoration [!?] in the McDonalds in the Madrid-Barajas airport.

Which means that at some point in their existence, McNuggets have the consistency of Play-Doh.

Perhaps it is Spanish pride in the gastronomical scientific genius of El Bulli that sees this transformation as an artistic event? I mean, In his Momofuku Cookbook, David Chang and Wylie Dufresne do have an entire section devoted to the miracle of meat glue.

Chicken McNuggets [wikipedia]


I don't think that's an extrusion die. The extruded meat tubes would run into each other coming out of the die if they were all grouped together like that (unless maybe the whole thing runs vertically, dropping them into a batter vat?). I would have guessed they are diecast, and briefly heated in the mold to cure the adhesive binder and give them enough shape to hold up in the battering and frying process.

Do you think those shapes are trademarked? I'm thinking icecube tray.

I have many happy childhood memories of savoring the boot-shaped chicken nugget. They were my favorite. Even then I knew the shapes were too regular and consistent to happen in any natural way.

I'd expect The McKnife would constantly shave off extrusions to the appropriate McNugget-thickness. They'd never reach Play-Doh Fun Factory-length.

The Wikipedia entry says a McNugget is a "small piece of minced chicken breast and mechanically separated meat held together with phosphate salts and some chicken skin. The pieces are then coated with batter, lightly fried to set the batter..." Supersize Me says chickens are "'ground up' into a chicken mash then combined with a variety of stabilizers and preservatives, pressed into familiar shapes, breaded and deep fried."

Ice cubes would be great, or Jell-o Molds.


I'd like to see a mold like this used to make a really nice Maryland Crabcake.

Just imagine your cocktail party guests greeted with what appear to be McNuggets, only to find actual food.

I think it could make an evening.

step one of the chicken mcnugget

I always wondered how they got them into those shapes. Wow.

You're right about cutting the extrusions to length, not sure what I was thinking there, but I still think the chicken slurry would be too soft for that to work right. And all the extrusion dies I've ever seen (all for aluminum admittedly) have been round, because the liquid stuff being extruded flows through a round pipe up to the die. This looks like more an injection molding plate, and those linear features at the bottom could be gates. Which means they would have some McSprue leftovers at the end of the process.

As disgusting as they may be to actually eat, I'd love to get a tour of the plant and see how it's done.

"Which means that at some point in their existence, McNuggets have the consistency of Play-Doh."

So while that may be true, your statement isn't. Aluminum, for example, is often extruded at room temperature.

That said, super interesting; thanks for posting.

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