#SundayCookingAdventures: Butter Pecan Chicken

2014-11-16 12.06.26

I made this chicken, looked at the finished product and thought, hmmmm. This doesn’t look so good. And I abandoned the idea of posting it.

Then I tasted a piece. And I thought, OMG, this coating is out of this world good. Like, maybe the best chicken I’ve made in a long time.

And then finally, my husband came downstairs and said he smelled “biscuit food,”  zeroed in on the finished chicken and wondered when he could eat.

He picked the two pieces to photograph and here they are for all to see. This recipe is not as healthy as most of the recipes I post, but it is still much lower in saturated fat than deep fried or other pan-fried chicken recipes.

2014-11-16 11.17.25

I do have some suggestions:

I would cook this in a non-stick pan if you have one. I do not, so when I cooked the second batch I added a little more oil (half a tablespoon) and that seemed to help with the sticking (it stuck a lot).

When you make the coatings, I would make the recipe plus another half. I made the recipe as shown below and barely had enough to finish coating the chicken. That goes for both the mustard coating and the bread crumb coating. So make extra to make sure you get all the flavor in every piece of chicken.

If you don’t have buttermilk, you can put one tablespoon of lemon juice into a 1 cup measuring cup and fill with (any kind of) milk to one cup. Let set for an hour. Then add it to the chicken. Having done it both ways, I think buttermilk gives you the best flavor, but the milk and lemon juice substitute works in a pinch.

Chop your nuts finely. Otherwise, they don’t stick to the chicken as well.

That’s it. It’s hard to describe the flavor of this chicken. The sweetness of the honey combines with the tart mustard and the texture of the nuts and bread crumbs. It’s a glorious combination.

So whether or not you think it looks good, give it a try. You won’t be sorry.

This recipe came from The Tribune Food & Drink weekly guide many years ago. I tried to find it online to give you a direct link, but I couldn’t. It was created by then test kitchen director Donna Pierce, who now has her own blog.

Butter pecan chicken

6 boneless chicken breast halves, flattened to about 1/4 inch*
2 cups buttermilk
1 cup finely ground dry bread crumbs
1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted*
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt (I omitted)
2 tablespoons coarse mustard
2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
1 tablespoon honey
2-3 tablespoons olive oil

1) Place chicken in a shallow bowl or pan. Pour buttermilk over chicken; move chicken around in dish to make sure it’s all covered with buttermilk. Cover. Refrigerate one hour.

2) Remove chicken from refrigerator; set aside to come to room temperature. Meanwhile, stir together bread crumbs, pecans, thyme, dry mustard, red pepper flakes, and pepper (and salt if using) in a shallow pan just until combined; set aside. Combine mustard, butter and honey in a medium bowl; set aside.

3) Heat 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Remove one chicken piece from the buttermilk; roll it first in the honey-mustard mixture, then in the crumbs. Add to skillet. Repeat with two more pieces. Cook, turning once, until browned and cooked through, about 4-5 minutes each side. Remove from pan and keep warm in a separate dish. Clean skillet, heat 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons of oil, and cook second batch. Serves 6.

*Cooks note: To flatten chicken breast halves, place them one at a time in a heavy food storage bag. Use a mallet or rolling pin to pound the chicken to desired thickness. To toast pecans, place in a small dry skillet over medium heat. Cook, stirring until fragrant, about 1 minute; do not overcook.

Nutritional information (with 2 tablespoons of oil and salt): 321 calories, 46 percent of calories from fat, 16 grams fat, 5 grams saturated fat, 85 mg cholesterol, 13 g carbohydrates, 30 g protein, 378 sodium, 1 g fiber.

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