Friday, March 5, 2010

Pretzel-Crusted Chicken Breasts with Cheddar-Mustard Sauce

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
2 eggs
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


Seconds for Satisfaction said...

That looks fabulous!

papa smurf said...

This was great babe!

Dunne' said...

I've made this recipe before and it's SOOO yummy! Thanks for reminding me of it; I'll need to put it on the menu soon!

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