Last night, The Wife and I had dinner at Long John Silver's. I got my usual - the one with two bits of fish and three bits of chicken. The Wife had the same.
At one point during the meal, The Wife managed to extract the chicken from its golden brown (and highly addictive) coating. I didn't take a picture of what was revealed, although I should have.
See that? That, my friends, is mechanically separated chicken. This is, for all intents and purposes, chicken's last chance to be eaten. Bones that still have neat attached (like the bones that are removed from the "Boneless, Skinless" breasts) are fed into a machine that forces it through a sieve at high pressure, removing every last scrap of meat and creating a Play-Doh like paste.
Take a good look at that picture up there. Now imagine that paste molded into a vaguely cylindrical shape, and pale white instead of pink. Give it a nice greasy sheen, and you have the core of the LJS chicken thing.
I only mention LJS because that's what I had last night. If you've ever had a chicken nugget, you've had a molded wad of chicken paste. Next time you have one, pay attention to the texture of what you're eating. It doesn't exactly feel like chicken, does it?
Don't get me wrong, I'm not swearing off Long John Silvers - I still like the fish, and the batter is fantastically addictive. I just won't be ordering the extruded chicken things.