You have your marinaded chicken. You have your fried chicken. You have your grilled chicken. There's a million different recipes out there. Well, I found a new one and you need to try it!
My plate tonight- I forgot to take the picture before I started eating. Whoops! At least I remembered a few bites in :)
This is a recipe from Emeril Lagasse who very well could be the king of southern cooking. If Paula Deen is the queen, then Emeril is surely the king. He may not have the southern twang that Paula has, but don't be fooled... this man knows his way around southern food. Did you know he has three different restaurants just in New Orleans? He has perfected "creole" cooking and most of his recipes have a definite southern flair.
This Pecan Crusted Chicken did not disappoint. I loved it and so did Mom and Dad! If you think about it, it's not that bad for you. First off, it's baked not fried. Good start right? You use boneless, skinless chicken breasts.... even healthier. And you coat it in pecans! Nuts have protein and are good for you right? That's what I thought.
Don't you love pecans? I do. I grew up eating them. I remember my Grandma had a pecan tree on the side of her house when I was younger and one day I picked up a shell that had fallen off the tree and was confused by what it was. I took it into her and she shelled it for me and we both ate it. Delicious! I was hooked. I love them in cookies, pies, salads even! So it was a no-brainer to coat these chicken strips in them! I know pecans can be pricey, so try catching them on sale at the store and throw them in the freezer. This will help them last so much longer. Also, we usually buy the store brand of nuts because it's a little cheaper than big names.
Emeril's recipe also lists a honey mustard dipping sauce, but I used one from Paula's recipe that I knew my family already liked. I'll list both, so you can choose which one you want to use!
Oven Baked Pecan-Crusted Chicken Fingers
1 c. pecan pieces
1/2 c. bread crumbs
1 tbsp. creole seasoning (You could use Emeril's "Essence" or use what you have, like I did!)
2 large eggs
1/4 c. olive oil (Olive oil is expensive, so I just used about 2 tbsp. I'm on a budget, y'all!)
2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut lengthwise into strips
honey mustard dipping sauce
Preheat your oven to 375. Either lightly grease your pan or for an even easier clean-up just line your pan with foil.
In the bowl of a food processor, combine the pecans, bread crumbs and creole seasoning. Okay, confession. The food processor is a pain. It's so big and clunky and there's so many different parts, so I chose a different method. Do you have one of those magic bullets? We don't either, BUT we do have something similar :) So I just dumped all that stuff in one of those cups and blasted it until it was all crumbs. Way easier and a lot less clean-up and work!
Ready to pulverize!
Once you've got all that together, dump it into a shallow dish or plate. Then mix the eggs, olive oil and another teaspoon or so of creole seasoning together. I just put it into a bowl and whisked it with a fork until the eggs were broken up and it all looked combined.
Then it's time to slice up your chicken. I had a package of chicken breasts, but you could go ahead and buy the chicken tenderloins. I started out making strips out of the chicken breasts and they weren't all the same size and it bothered me. (I think I have OCD...haha) So I decided to make them into nuggets...kind of. Okay, they're bigger than nuggets. You'll see!
Got my assembly line set up! (Before I cut the chicken into nuggets.)
Okay, this part is easy... I promise. Just make sure you have your pan ready because you don't want to have to do it with pecan chicken hands! Take your chicken piece, one at a time, dunk it in the egg mixture and then coat all sides in the pecan mixture. Shake off the excess and lay it on the pan. See... easy! Keep repeating until you use all the chicken pieces. You'll probably have some egg mixture leftover, but don't worry about it. Please don't try and scramble them. They probably won't taste good :)
Ready for the oven! Lookin' good.
Now bake these for 15-20 minutes. They're not going to really brown, but after 15 minutes or so, cut into one and see where you're at with cooking time. If there's any pink then you need a few more minutes.
On to the honey mustard dipping sauce... two ways!
1/2 c. mayonnaise
2 tbsp. honey
2 tbsp. creole mustard or other hot whole-grained mustard
pinch of salt
pinch of cayenne, or to taste
Combine all ingredients and stir together until everything is combined. Store in the refrigerator.
Paula's: (The one I used!)
3/4 c. mayonnaise
3 tbsp. honey
2 tbsp. yellow mustard
1 tbsp. lemon juice, or juice of 1/2 a lemon
2 tbsp. orange juice (more or less as needed)
horseradish to taste
Combine all ingredients and stir to combine. The orange juice may seem strange, but I think all the citrus cuts the pure mayonnaise taste and the OJ makes gives it a little more sweetness than the honey on its own. I usually put a teaspoon or so of dijon mustard in also, so it has a nice little bite to it! Store in refrigerator.
I served these chicken nuggets with some sweet potato biscuits and an easy spinach salad (my spinach from the Farmer's Market!). The sweet potato biscuits are actually from a Paula Deen dry mix I bought at TJ Maxx. It was so good and easy! All I had to do was add a can of sweet potatoes, mash them and add some butter and milk. I had a feeling they might be kind of bland so I added some brown sugar and cinnamon to them and they were awesome! If you're ever at TJ Maxx, go browse the foods section and see if you can find them! I don't know where else they're sold. They were obviously sold somewhere before they got to TJ Maxx.
Anyways, hope y'all enjoy! Let me know if you try it and what you think!