Friday, March 5, 2010
We've been having a lot of chicken in our recent dinners, and this one was another winner. I was nervous that the breading might be too bland (crushed pretzel + dried thyme), but it was so flavorful, and the color was a warm, brown hue from the pretzels. While I could have eaten it without the sauce, the sauce took it over the edge. I did halve the sauce recipe, and I am glad I did as we had a lot leftover. We used pre-shredded cheese, but I would definitely recommend getting an 8-oz block of cheese and shredding it on your own. A little elbow grease will go a long way for sauce! I would also recommend pounding your chicken breasts as thin as possible- we loved how crispy and flavorful (and quick) this recipe was.
You can see the crushed pretzel crust up close:
Pretzel-Crusted Chicken Breasts with Cheddar-Mustard Sauce
4 small, boneless, skinless chicken breasts
5-ounce bag of salted pretzels, any shape (roughly 3 cups)
1 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves, chopped (Used 1-1/2 tsp dried thyme leaves)
Garlic salt and freshly ground black pepper
Vegetable oil, for frying
1/8 cup flat leaf parsley leaves, a handful, chopped
1/8 small yellow onion, finely chopped
1 large sour dill pickle, finely chopped
1 lemon, cut into wedges
Cheddar-Mustard Sauce (This is the halved recipe)
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp flour
1 cup whole milk
1-1/4 cup sharp yellow cheddar cheese, shredded
1 heaping Tbsp spicy brown mustard
1. Preheat a large non-stick skillet with a 1/4-inch of vegetable oil over medium-high heat.
2. Using a gallon storage bag, place 1 chicken breast in each bag and seal it up, pushing out excess air. Use the bottom of a heavy pot or pan and pound each breast until flat, just shy of busting out of the bag. Repeat with the other 3 chicken breasts. (The thinner the breasts, the better.)
3. Place the pretzels in a food processor or blender and grind until fine. Transfer the ground pretzels to a shallow dish, add the dried thyme.
4. Crack and beat 2 eggs in a second shallow dish with a splash of water.
5. Season both sides of the pounded chicken with garlic salt and black pepper. One at a time, coat each chicken breast in the egg and then the ground pretzels.
6. Add the pretzel-coated chicken breast to the hot oil. Cook in a single layer, in 2 batches if necessary, about 3 or 4 minutes on each side, until the juices run clear and breading is evenly browned.
7. While the chicken is frying, in a medium saucepot over medium heat, melt the butter and add the flour to it. Cook flour and butter for 1 minute and then whisk in the milk.
8. When the milk comes to a bubble, stir in the cheese and mustard with a wooden spoon. Season with a little salt and pepper, and remove cheese sauce from the heat.
9. Transfer the fried pretzel-crusted chicken breast to a serving plate, drizzle with the mustard cheddar sauce, then sprinkle with a little parsley, finely chopped onion and sour dill pickle. Serve lemon wedges alongside.
UPDATED (eff. 11/2/10): I wasn't thrilled about the cheese sauce Rachael Ray used above, so in a recent edition from her own magazine, I found a different cheese sauce which I like better! The sauce was easy to prepare, and you can tell a hint of tanginess from the cream cheese (though the cream cheese, in my opinion, can be eliminated if desired.) I would definitely recommend getting a block cheese (vs. pre-packaged shredded cheese) and grating it yourself- The cheese will melt much better and won't have a grainy taste. (Pre-packaged shredded cheeses are coated with flour, which prevents them from clumping.)
Rachael Ray's Cheese Sauce
1-1/2 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp + 1-1/2 tsp flour
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
1-1/4 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
2 oz cream cheese, cubed
1/8 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt, to taste
Ground cayenne (red) pepper, pinch
1. In a heavy saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Once melted, add the flour and cook, stirring constantly for 2 minutes.
2. Gradually whisk in the heavy cream until smooth.
3. Whisk in the milk. Simmer gently until the sauce is thick enough to coat a spoon, about 5-7 minutes,
4. Remove from heat, and whisk in the grated Cheddar cheese, cream cheese, and Parmesan cheese until melted and smooth.
5. Season with salt and cayenne pepper.
Source: Adapted from Rachael Ray