Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Pistachio Almond Crusted Chicken!

Is it really mid April? It feels like I haven't been in the kitchen forever! Well I guess it was worth it though; two weekends ago I went down to LA/San Diego and instead of making loads of food, someone else was doing the work and I was just consuming loads of it. I felt bad but at the same time, not really! It was time to enjoy. That's what vacation is, fill your eyes and ears with wonders and your tummy with goodness and boy was it wonderfully good, all of it! 

I love my museums, I love my food, and I love to randomly walk around and we did just that! My HS friend and I went down to visit his sister and our HS friend. I'd rather not count the years since HS but I can't believe it's been a decade since I've known them! Seems like yesterday we were all gathered at the quads in our HS courtyard having lunch and dreaming about life.... good times... It's okay though, we may be older but we're still the same silly teens we once were on the inside!

It was a good thing I lined up back to back hikes towards the end of my days off because I was definitely eating my way through the cities!

Side note: Torrey Pines in San Diego, absolutely gorgeous, if you ever get a chance, that should definitely be a place to hike through! Hike to the beach, can't get any better than that! 

Now, after a week of eating salads in hopes of restoring balance, I'm back in the kitchen! I think I've emphasized in the past how much I enjoy the cooking show America's Test Kitchen, well I'm going to rave again, they are awesome! I wanted to try this recipe out as soon as I finished watching the segment. They make everything look so easy. Granted they took about 15 minutes to finish the whole dish where as in reality its close to an hour but still, for some of the dishes they prepare, you'd think it'd take longer. 

Nut crusted chicken cutlets with thyme and lemon! Yum right? Oh did I mention it was baked?? You would've never known, well at least I didn't but as soon as I found out it was baked, I fell in love with the recipe. Of course like everything I play with, I've always got to put in my own touches. Minor tweaks really: I added pistachios (because it just sounds delicious, forget even tasting it) and while I was prepping I couldn't bring myself to use 1/2 stick of butter so I cut that down to 1/4 and it works! 

I don't know what their version tasted like, but my pistachio almond crusted chicken cutlets are mouth watering! It looked good before it even went in the oven! The aromas from the nuts and shallots were enhanced ten fold after browning with a little bit of butter. Panko flakes provided an extra crisp to the outer coating giving it a crispy texture you'd get if you fried the chicken. Crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside. Definitely a crowd pleaser! Then there are other subtle flavor enhancers like Cayenne pepper, Dijon mustard, and thyme that brings it all together. I can't rave enough about this dish, you have to try! 



Adapted from America's Test Kitchen episode: Shake and Bake Reinvented: Nut-CrustedChicken Cutlets with Lemon and Thyme

Printable version here


Serves 4
Ingredients
  • 4-5 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (6 to 8 ounces each), trimmed of excess fat
  • Kosher salt
  • ½ cup roughly chopped almonds
  • ½ cup roughly chopped pistachios
  • 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 2 pieces
  • 1 medium shallot, minced (about 3 tablespoons)
  • 1 cup panko (Japanese-style bread crumbs)
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ½ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Using fork, poke thickest half of each breast 5 to 6 times. Place on wire rack set in rimmed baking sheet and evenly sprinkle each breast with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (or 1/4 teaspoon table salt). Refrigerate, uncovered, while preparing coating.
  3. Process nuts in food processor until they resemble coarse meal, about 20 one-second pulses
  4. Heat butter in 12-inch skillet over medium heat; cook, swirling pan constantly, until butter turns golden brown and has nutty aroma, 4 to 5 minutes. Add shallot and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (or 1/4 teaspoon table salt); cook, stirring constantly, until just beginning to brown, about 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low, add panko and ground nuts; cook, stirring frequently, until golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer panko mixture to shallow dish or pie plate and stir in thyme and cayenne.
  5. Lightly beat eggs, mustard and black pepper together in second shallow dish or pie plate.
  6. Place flour in third shallow dish or pie plate.
  7. Pat chicken dry with paper towels. Working with 1 piece at a time, dredge chicken breast in flour, shaking off excess, then coat with egg mixture, allowing excess to drip off. Coat all sides of chicken with panko mixture, pressing gently so that crumbs adhere. Transfer breaded chicken to clean wire rack set in rimmed baking sheet and repeat with remaining chicken.
  8. Bake until instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of chicken registers 160 degrees, 20 to 25 minutes. Let rest 5 minutes before serving.
 

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