Friday, April 29, 2011

Almond Crusted Chicken

Almond Crusted Chicken
(Courtesy of Cooks Illustrated)

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Kosher salt
1 cup roughly chopped almonds (I think mine were too big, I would have gone smaller)
4 Tbsp (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
1 medium shallot, minced (about 3 Tbsp)
1 cup panko (Japanese style bread crumbs)
2 tsp finely grated lemon zest (from 1 lemon)
1 tsp minced fresh thyme leaves (I just used dry)
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
3 large eggs
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 cup all purpose flour

1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Using fork, poke thickest half of chicken breast 5-6 times. Sprinkle evenly with salt. Refrigerate, uncovered while preparing coating.

2. Process nuts in food processor until they resemble course meal. (I left mine too chunky and everyone said they tasted delicious, the texture just resembled soft gravel. Next time I will process them to a finer texture). Heat butter in a skillet over medium heat. Cook, swirling pan constantly until butter turns golden brown and has a nutty aroma (4-5 minutes). Add shallot and 1/2 tsp kosher salt. Cook stirring constantly until just beginning to brown (2 minutes). Reduce heat to medium low. Add panko and ground nuts. Cook stirring frequently until golden brown (10-12 minutes). Transfer panko mixture to shallow dish or pie plate and stir in lemon zest, thyme and cayenne.

3. Lightly beat eggs, mustard and black pepper in a second shallow dish or pie plate. Place flour in a third shallow dish or pie plate. Pat chicken dry with paper towels. Work 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 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.

4. Bake until instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of chicken registers 160 degrees (20-25 minutes). Let rest 5 minutes before serving.

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