In the past few years, as chicken sandwiches have had their boom and bust and chicken wings got too popular to keep in stock, chicken nuggets have made a bit of an unexpected resurgence. Last year, Popeyes made a big deal of its first chicken nuggets to be added to the menu (despite the fact that the restaurant has had chicken tenders this whole time). KFC is now debuting chicken nuggets as well, a product that looks suspiciously similar to its popcorn chicken. And now Boston Market is all-in on the nugget rush, too. The restaurant chain recently released what it’s calling Rotisserie Chicken Nuggets, and if you think too hard about them, you’re going to give yourself a headache.
When you imagine chicken nuggets I’m assuming that, like me, you think of battered or breaded little handheld pieces of poultry that are fried or baked. But Boston Market has a slightly different offering, which is literally just... chunks of chicken breast cut up into uneven pieces, seasoned, and slapped onto a tray. Observe:
Calling cubed chicken breast “nuggets” is pretty bold, if you ask me. It’s just goddamn chicken pieces. But then I suppose if you marketed them as “seasoned chicken chunks” customers probably wouldn’t be as interested in buying them. You need the allure of the word “nugget.” The pull of a term so delicious that it’s impossible to resist.
Boston Market’s “nuggets” (I can’t use that word without quotation marks to describe these!) come in two varieties, Signature and Spicy. There’s no description as to what “Signature” actually means. I’m guessing that the Rotisserie Chicken Nuggets are seasoned in the same inoffensive, perfectly okay blend of herbs and spices that the trademark rotisserie chicken is. The Spicy kind is supposed to be, well, at least a little hot.
A small Rotisserie Nugget meal at our local Boston Market comes with eight pieces of chicken breast, one side, a dipping sauce, and a drink, for $9.29. (A large order is 12 pieces, at $11.79.) My fiancee and I ordered both types, and my first reaction when I gazed upon them was just to let out a long sigh before I dug in.
The Signature Rotisserie Chicken Nuggets were salty, dry, stringy, and bland. We paired them with the “Signature” dipping sauce (I didn’t even know Boston Market even had dipping sauces), which tasted a lot like Raising Cane’s sauce, but with slightly more tang to it. Even with the decent sauce, they were a chore to eat. You’ve all had baked chicken breast before, so congrats! You already know what these Rotisserie Chicken Nuggets taste like.
The Spicy “nuggets” were pretty much the same: chewy, salty, and dry, with zero kick. We paired those with the Smoking Flame sauce, which tasted like a mildly spicy mix of the Signature dipping sauce plus barbecue sauce. Again, the sauce was good, the chicken was terrible. Hey, at least the sides were perfectly delicious. I’m a big fan of Boston Market’s mac and cheese, along with the creamed spinach.
If I sound like a grouch, that’s because I am a little grouchy about these things. When you go out to eat, even if it’s fast food, I think part of the enjoyment is that you’re going out to eat something that doesn’t taste like your own cooking. I could have stayed at home, overcooked and oversalted some chicken breasts, and microwaved a package of Stouffer’s mac and cheese on my own, thank you very much.
From Boston Market’s perspective, I totally understand needing to keep up with the other chains. Everyone’s got nuggets. Maybe if you don’t, you look kind of like a slouch. But that’s the thing: Nobody visits Boston Market for nuggets to begin with. You want that meat-and-potatoes comfort food vibe, which the chain is much better at executing with its regular rotisserie chicken. I guess the main problem is, these nuggets remind me of my own cooking at its worst, and why on earth would I want to pay for that?