Monday, March 25, 2013

Pecan Chicken


Sunday Night Dinner

It's Sunday night which means I typically cook a real dinner. Sundays are a quiet day around here, a chance to regroup and spend time with family before going back to work and school on Monday. Sometimes kids stay in pajamas all day and that's okay too.

I love Pecan Chicken. I first had it at Sweet Lorraine's and it came with a honey mustard sauce and glazed carrots and rice pilaf. It's actually a staple on their menu and has been for years, and is one of those dishes that they are famous for. While this recipe we are going to make it's exactly like it, it's pretty darn close. I prefer to serve it with mashed potatoes rather than rice, and I think we will have green beans tonight with a little bit of butter and lemon juice rather than carrots. Looking in the fridge today the carrots had to go!

Pecan Chicken is always a Sunday night dinner because while it isn't too hard to make, it does take a little bit of time so I would rather do it when I have ample time and don't have to rush through the process. The recipe is based on this one at busycooks.com but it's changed over the years. I originally saved it in the days before Pinterest and the version I have on file is quite different but by the same person. The new version frankly has too many steps and ingredients for me but I'm sure it's worth it. Here's my version based on the original one she had. . . got all that? I know it's pretty convoluted.

I used to buy regular boneless chicken breasts but found that often pounding/rolling them to get them thin did not always work and was a pain. At one local butcher counter they will split them for me as they come fresh from the case rather than packaged but I find that those are still very thick. Today I purchased Amish chicken that is marked "thinly sliced" and they always work so much better. Consider this a "tip". They come butterflied so I split each one in the center. There were a total of 3 breasts, 6 pieces when I split them, for dinner tonight.


Pecan Pieces
 For the pecans you want them chopped rather than in the larger pieces that they come in. I take them and put them in the food processor and pulse them. I find that if you just turn it on and let it go you might get them to be the desired consistency but you might not. The heat from the motor, combined with the speed, makes for a less than consistent process and often you end up with a burned taste as well more of a pecan butter (like peanut butter) with a lot of oily residue rather than the dry pieces we want for a coating.


Pecan Pieces after "pulsing" repeatedly, smaller pieces
A 6 oz package is typically enough for our dish but if you want, you can buy in bulk and then put the rest in the freezer. I always store my nuts in the freezer, both in the package and after I grind them down, to keep them fresh. My freezer has packages of all kinds of things, secured with rubber bands, like pecans, almonds, chocolate chips, sunflower seeds, pine nuts, pomegranate seeds and shredded coconut. I find that rolling the packages up and sealing them with a rubber band keeps things fresh for a very long time.


Dressing the Chicken


Once the nuts were done, I was ready to assemble the chicken with the coating. This part can get a little messy so I have a couple more tips.

Now I could have fancied this up for the blog but I used 3 paper plates (well they are heavy duty so that's kind of fancy). One plate holds the nuts, another the dressing, and the third has the flour, with some garlic salt and pepper stirred in.

I start with the flour. Dip each chicken breast into the flour and make sure to coat it pretty well. This will allow the dressing to stick in the next step. I flip and press down a couple of times. I try to do all of the breasts, stacking them up on the same plate before I move on to Step 2, to keep them nice and dry. The next two steps are pretty messy; I always end up with pecan coated fingertips that look pretty funny and are kind of awkward.

Chicken Breasts with Flour


The chicken breasts go from the flour on the paper plate to getting dipped in salad dressing and then a coating of pecans. Again this part is pretty messy. As I assembled them I put them in the lined Pyrex in single layers, with the parchment paper in between. I stored them in the fridge for later so we can fry them up and make the sauce for dinner with less clean up later.

Chicken with Pecan Coating, ready for the fridge for dinner later
When it's time for dinner I heat up the butter and olive oil in a heavy skillet on medium high heat. It's important to cook the chicken thoroughly (obviously!) but also make sure that you don't burn the pecans which can happen easily. I often cut through the chicken to check it to make sure it cooks all the way through. I think my pieces are thicker than the original recipe so I usually cook them about 5 minutes a side.

Pecan Chicken - ready to remove from pan
I really do cut the pieces each in half (well except for the one I photographed for you - but I relied on the other ones to know it was done) so I can make sure they are cooked. Really, I don't want to chance it with less then perfectly cooked chicken. The risk is just too high.

As these cook in batches, place the cooked chicken on a plate with a tent of foil to keep it warm.

You will find that there are a lot of renegade pecans that stayed behind in the pan. This is good, along with some extra oil and chicken juices. To the pan I add the sour cream and dressing we reserved for the sauce. I squeeze the dressing in first, let it boil for a second and then add the sour cream. I let the sour cream sit on the counter while I am cooking. Chilled sour cream can cause you problems. Let it get to room temperature.

Finished Sauce

Cook until it boils and slightly thickens. This is really good on the chicken as well as mashed potatoes or rice.





Ken's Honey Mustard

Pecan Chicken Recipe

Ingredients:

1 lb of boneless skinless chicken breasts, thin sliced preferred
1 6 oz package of pecan pieces
1/4 cup creamy honey mustard salad dressing (I use Ken's Steakhouse)
1/4 cup flour
garlic salt and pepper to taste

1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup of sour cream (room temperature)
1/3 cup of creamy honey mustard salad dressing
Pepper to taste

Directions:

In the food processor on pulse, grind the pecan pieces into smaller pieces, taking care not to overheat and go too fast.

Place the pecans on a plate, along with the flour (seasoned with garlic salt and pepper) and dressing on two separate plates.

Prepare chicken to make sure it is "thin" by either pounding or rolling, or purchasing that way. If the chicken is butterflied, split into two pieces. Take each piece and dredge in flour. Follow with the dressing and pecans, trying to coat all sides.

Melt butter and olive oil in a heavy skillet over medium high heat, taking care not to burn the pecans on the chicken. 5 minutes per side with monitoring should work. Remove from skillet and place on a plate with foil to keep warm.

In the same pan, add the dressing and sour cream and cook on medium until it boils. This sauce can be poured on chicken as well as rice or mashed potatoes.



1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing this recipe! I live in Texas now and really miss that place for the pecan chicken. ☺

    ReplyDelete