This is one of the most satisfying dishes I have made in a while, and it kind of came about by accident. Catfish was on sale for $3.99 the other day and I originally made the pecan cornmeal crust for that, but when I had some leftover, I decided to try it with one package of the 10 pounds of chicken breast I had in the fridge as well (it was $1.99/pound for boneless skinless chicken breasts!!! I couldn’t help myself!!!) When I tasted the pecan and cornmeal crusted chicken, I decided I liked it better than the catfish, but there was something missing. It needed some sort of sauce. I made a cream sauce with what I had on hand, but no, it didn’t work. Too rich. I needed something tangy. Balsamic reduction maybe? No. Then it hit me…HONEY MUSTARD SAUCE. Honey mustard sauce goes very well with chicken to begin with, but honey and pecans also go beautifully together. The whole thing is just a match made in heaven, and this has got to be one of my favorite ways to make chicken. Here’s how:
2 pounds of boneless skinless chicken breasts (I had 4 chicken breasts)
1 cup pecans
1 cup yellow cornmeal (try to look for coarser cornmeal, rather than finely ground)
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Get your pecans chopped up into small pieces either by using a knife and cutting board or taking them for a spin in the food processor. Make sure the pieces are pretty small, as bigger pieces will have a hard time sticking. Place the pecans into a breading bowl, and whisk in the cornmeal and cayenne pepper to combine.
Trim any excess fat or skin off the chicken breast. Beat the egg with a fork until the yolk and egg white have blended, then dip the chicken in the egg wash. Season the chicken with salt and pepper (and plenty of it), then coat them with the pecan cornmeal mixture.
If you have leftover pecan cornmeal and can’t seem to throw it away (I have this problem too), sprinkle it over the top of the chicken breasts. Drizzle a little olive oil over the tops, and bake the chicken breasts on a sheet pan for somewhere between 20-35 minutes, since baking time will vary depending on the size of your chicken breasts. If you don’t have an instant read thermometer, please get one, and give yourself the gift of never eating overcooked meat or food ever again. I use mine every day, for checking meats, checking bread temperatures, for checking semifreddo and custard temps, for candy making (brittle, pralines, etc) and a million other things. My thermometer is the most important tool in the kitchen (spatulas are my most favorite tool in the kitchen, not the most important). It is equally important to get a GOOD one (most are garbage. I used one at my dad’s house a few weeks ago and it was 30 degrees off!!!) Thermoworks makes the best ones, hands down.
Honey Mustard Sauce: Whisk together 1/3 cup dijon mustard, 1 tbsp whole grain mustard, and 1/2 cup of honey. Season with salt and pepper. Now taste it. Is it too sweet for your liking? Add more mustard. Is it too tangy? Add more honey. That’s the great thing about cooking your own food, you can adjust it to your tastes. Drizzle over your chicken, and enjoy!
I would love to hear any comments, questions, or suggestions below. Thanks for reading!