Saturday, February 19, 2011

Pecan Crusted Chicken

There is a Creole/Cajun restaurant in my old neighborhood that my husband and I love.  We would there it at least once a week, before we had kids, for dinner and were there at least two more times each week just for drinks and apps.  The place is in an awful location, yet it has received numerous awards.  If you have gone there you will probably become a regular.  The food is wonderful yet affordable.  Everything is delicious - Jack Daniels shrimp, crawfish Etouffee, and my favorite the pecan crusted chicken with a creole mustard.  The chicken is the dish I order 90% of time, it is so yummy and the serving size is large enough that I always have leftovers to enjoy the next day, and this is a dish that is just as good, if not better the next day.  Since we moved we haven't been getting there as often as we would like and I often have a craving for the chicken.  To help I have been working on making my own version for those times when I need a fix and just can't get there.  It is coming close, the sauce still needs some work, but the chicken is almost spot on.  I will share the chicken recipe with you now, but am going to work on the sauce some more and will share that at a later date.  Even without the sauce the chicken is great, so go ahead and give it a try!

Pecan Crusted Chicken
4 Boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 c. Roughly chopped pecans
4 Tbs. Butter
1 Shallot, minced
1 c. Panko
2 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
1 tsp. minced fresh thyme leaves
1/8 tsp. Cayenne pepper
3 Eggs
3 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp. Ground black pepper
1 tsp. Seasoned Salt
1 c. All-purpose flour

Preheat oven 350
Using a fork poke chicken 9-10 times, sprinkle with Kosher salt.  Place on wire rack set over baking sheet, refrigerate while preparing coating.
In a food processor, chop nuts until they resemble a coarse meal.  Over medium heat, melt butter, swirling pan constantly until butter is golden brown.  Add shallot and a pinch of kosher salt.  Cook shallots until light brown, stirring constantly.  Reduce heat, add Panko and nuts.  Stirring frequently cook until golden brown about 10-12 minutes.  Transfer mixture to shallow dish or coating plate.  Add lemon zest, thyme and cayenne, stir to combine.   In second shallow dish beat eggs, mustard and black pepper.  In third shallow dish mix together flour and seasoned salt.
Remove chicken from refrigerator, pat dry with a paper towel.  Working with 1 piece at a time, dredge chicken in flour, then egg mixture,  allow extra to drip off.  Coat each side of chicken in panko nut mixture, pressing gently so crumbs adhere.  Transfer coated chicken to wire rack, set in baking sheet.  Repeat until all chicken is coated.
Bake for 20-25 minutes or until thickest part of the chicken reads 160 degrees on an instant read thermometer.