I’m always searching for new ways to make chicken and wanted something crunchy but not greasy. I went to America’s Test Kitchen to see what ideas they had. I just love reading about all their efforts to get the perfect recipe. Their recipe called for almonds which I think would be awesome but Taylor and almonds don’t mix, so I used pecans.
My go to method for tender chicken breasts is to marinate them in buttermilk, but this recipe suggested poking the chicken with a fork and sprinkling salt on top and then letting them sit in the refrigerator for a few minutes. This must have worked because I had huge chicken breasts and they were still so tender. My first rule is that the chicken has to be tender!
Methods to tenderize chicken breasts:
- Pour buttermilk over chicken breasts in a ziplock bag and refrigerate overnight or
- Poke the thickest part of the chicken breast with a fork and place on a rack set in a rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and refrigerate uncovered for 10 minutes.
Pro tip: If you’re out of buttermilk, you can make your own with just two ingredients. Here are three different methods for how to make your own buttermilk.
Next, I wanted it crunchy but not greasy. For Nut-Crusted Chicken with Lemon and Thyme, I browned butter and then added panko and ground up pecans and the seasoning. Then I dredged the chicken in flour, dipped it in an egg mixture and coated them completely in the nut-panko mixture. The end product was super crunchy and full of flavor from the brown butter, fresh thyme and the pecans. We all loved this dish.
Nut-Crusted Chicken with Lemon and Thyme is great with just a baked potato but if you want something a little more interesting, here are some suggestions:
Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen
Nut-Crusted Chicken with Lemon and Thyme
- 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 1 cup pecans
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1 shallot minced
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 1 lemon lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme minced
- ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 3 eggs
- 2 teaspoons dijon mustard
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- 1 cup flour
- Preheat oven to 350º. With a fork poke the thickest half of each breast 5-6 times. Place on wire rack set in rimmed baking sheet and evenly sprinkle each breast with ½ teaspoon salt. Refrigerate, uncovered, while prepare coating.
- Process nuts in food processor until they resemble coarse meal. Heat butter in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Cook, swirling pan constantly, until butter turns golden brown and has a nutty aroma, 4-5 minutes. Add shallot and ½ teaspoon salt. Cook stirring constantly until just slightly brown, about 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low, add panko and ground nuts. Cook, stirring frequently, until golden brown, 10-12 minutes. Transfer to pie plate and stir in lemon zest, thyme and cayenne.
- Lightly beat eggs, mustard and black pepper together in second pie plate. Place flour in third pie plate. Pat chicken dry with paper towels. Working with one piece at a time, dredge chicken 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 to a clean wire rack set in rimmed baking sheet.
- Bake until thermometer registers 160º, 20-25 minutes. Let rest 5 minutes before serving.